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Families still chasing money in Kenyan scandal

A program for Kenyan students to study in Finland and Canada has attracted the attention of national investigative agencies, after parents say they have lost more than US$5.8 million to local government officials.

Photo: wikimedia

Accommodation and tuition fees were paid for only one semester

The scandal has left more than 300 students stranded at home, while others face expulsion from Finnish universities over non-payment of fees.

Under the scheme, the County government of Uasin Gishu was to act as guarantors to students in an arrangement with foreign universities and a local company, whereby families paid into a trust fund account.

Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations have taken over the matter, and are reportedly prioritising it in a bid to get justice for victims.

The Commission is expected to submit its conclusion to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the coming weeks.

The scandal first came to light earlier this year when a group of Kenyan students enrolled in universities in Finland since September 2021 faced expulsion from campuses and subsequent deportation.

The local government unit failed to meet its fees obligations as guarantors for the students, families say.

Parents deposited money in a trust fund account with the first successful 51 students leaving for Finland, other batches of students followed for the University of Jyväskylä, Laurea University of Applied Sciences and LUT University in subsequent months of 2021 and 2022. However, accommodation and tuition fees were paid for only one semester.

Finnish stakeholders had expected the tuition fees by Uasin Gishu County rather than the parents themselves.

“All we want is our money”

Other students were to be enrolled into the Northern Lights College British Columbia, Canada, in a deal arranged by a local placement company Max Global Limited.

Former governor, Jackson Mandago, suspended officials suspected to have embezzled the cash and has pledged a refund. However, there is no clarity on how the crisis will be resolved.

A decision on whether criminal charges will be pressed is being awaited.

“We’ve had enough of your stories. We did not put you in office to give us stories. All we want is our money,” Mercy Tarus, one of the affected students angrily remarked last week at a meeting called to seek a resolution.

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