Tome Francis - Fund scam: do not play political ping pong by shortchanging children

The implementation of the Free Primary Education (FPE) and Subsidized Secondary Education (SSE) programme was seen as a final bright star falling into alignment.

The public as well as donors hailed the programme and supported it morally and financially. However, eight years down the line, this dream is on the verge of being shattered.

A huge chunk of the funds injected into this programme have instead been embezzled by corrupt bureaucrats in the Ministry of Basic Education.

Regrettably but predictably, the Ministry deliberately failed to have in- built mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation that would have provided Kenyans with consistent information regarding the state of the FPE and SSE. Everything just went awry.

Amid all these scandals, it is perhaps the ability of top technocrats to brazenly deny the obvious that is startling. Already, the Permanent Secretary and the Government Spokesperson (aka, the spin doctor) are furiously spinning strange tales in a bid to evenly cover up this muck.

They are wondering why a donor who contributes less than five percent of the FPE and SSE should complain when corruption rears its ugly head in the Ministry. To them, these donors are akin to an outsider who sheds more tears than the bereaved.

The worst is when they allege that the money stolen did not even come from the donors. These gentlemen seem to think that stealing donors’ money is what constitutes theft; however, stealing from the Kenyan tax payers is not theft at all!

By the way, it doesn`t matter whether it is FPE or SSE money that was stolen; the bottom-line is that a punishable crime was committed. It is therefore sickening to see some top civil servants play political ping pong by shortchanging our kids.

For how long shall such individuals continue to hide behind ethnicity or party politics while destroying the future of our children? It is even worse for the public to be subjected to a tirade by some MPS for merely calling upon the resignation of the Minister and the PS.

These MPs know that the Minister and the PS cannot be investigated while in office. Don`t they know that the office sanctifies its holder?

Moreover, it is nauseating for the PS to tell the public that it should not worry since the FPE and SSE programmes would be unaffected by the scandal that has docked in the Ministry. Could this imply that the Ministry has somehow backfilled its budget deficit?

Where did all this money come from? Could treasury have used the consolidated fund in frantically filling the gaping budget holes in the Basic Education Ministry? Or were there budgetary cutbacks from other sectors? Were such action(s) approved by the full cabinet and parliament? In my considered view, such an action would only make treasury a partner in crime.

If that be the case then the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) must censure the Finance Minister for operating outside his jurisdiction. Yet it is the President`s loud silence that has perhaps had the public wondering whether he still has the welfare of the Kenyan child at heart.

Like many other Kenyans, I have prayed that the president takes a decisive action to save this country from this cancerous growth that is cutting a swath through his brainchild.

To begin with, the Minister for Basic Education and his “Permanent” Secretary must have their services suspended, if not terminated. As Kuan Yew Lee opines “once a political system has been corrupted right from the very top leaders to the lowest rungs of the bureaucracy, the problem is very complicated.

The cleansing has to start from top and go downwards in a thorough and systematic way.”

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