Bungoma Bursary Scam: How Ksh.19M Was Lost To ‘Ghost’ Students
A task force has exposed a scandal in Bungoma County that cost hundreds of millions of shillings.
The task force that Governor Ken Lusaka put together two months ago to look into how the 2018 Education Scholarship Fund was being used found a lot of irregularities.
The scandal involved massive cases of ghost students, overpayments to schools, and many undeserving students receiving benefits while the needy were left out.
The audit of 46 out of 522 beneficiary schools lifted the veil on alleged irregular practices.
524 ghost students received the Ksh.35,000 scholarship at six of the sampled institutions, resulting in the likely loss of more than Ksh.19 million from the fund established by the previous administration in 2018.
Kibabii High School, for example, had 521 students on file, but the real number was 409; a disparity of 119, with each student receiving Ksh.35,000 as a bursary; the whereabouts of the Ksh.4.1 million distributed are unknown.
Teremi High School, which also collected Ksh.3.9 million for 113 fake students, has a similar situation.
The story remains the same at Kapsokwony Boys; 62 ghost students collected Ksh.2.1 million.
Governor Lusaka warned that those involved would carry their own crosses. He said that the task force visited schools, counting the number of students.
The research also demonstrates that there was incorrect identification of fund recipients, where unworthy instances were awarded scholarships, and deserving cases were refused.
The original list of recipients had also been altered, with evidence showing that 7 children had been transferred while their former schools continued to receive funds.
In addition, it was determined that the county continued to pay fees for 18 children whose parents paid their costs in full and 11 students whose fees had been paid in full by other sponsors.
During the headcount of beneficiaries, many students could not be found, and in some cases, their schools did not know they were there.
According to the report, 62, 17, and 39 kids were untraceable at Chebukaka Girls Secondary School, Chesamisi Boys, and Kiuk Girls High School, respectively.
The news that money was being paid via checks instead of IFMIS worried the governor since it made the system vulnerable to fraud.
A review of pending invoices uncovered more instances of fraud, such as the payment of phantom projects, the unauthorized modification of contracts, and the selective payment of pending bills, among others.
“The committee identified payments made for non-existent projects, claims were not supported by valid documentary evidence, case in point there was payment of six roads supported by the same set of photographs as evidence,” said the county boss.
The task force also audited the human resource and discovered that many unqualified individuals were working in certain divisions.
The Governor wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the allegations and take action against individuals involved in the multimillion-dollar corruption network.