The Secrets Behind Uasin Gishu’s Scholarship Program In Finland 2021

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A county assembly ad-hoc committee has now revealed that senior Uasin Gishu County officials conspired with financial institutions and agents to defraud parents of millions in a Finnish scholarship scam that involved students being airlifted and dumped in Europe.

Sen. Mandago and President Ruto in a past event

The Uasin Gishu County Assembly’s ad hoc group, which was established in early February to look into the scandal after concerned parents raised their concerns, has suggested taking disciplinary action against the implicated officials. It has also advocated for the return of the fees that parents paid as part of the highly publicized Uasin Gishu student airlift program.

Mandago in a past event

The 12-member committee was established, among other things, to create the legal foundation for the Finland scholarship program.

The team wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and other pertinent agencies to intervene and look into the implicated senior county officials for forgery, abuse of office, and integrity after its investigation, the results of which were endorsed for consideration in the county assembly’s report.

Uasin Gishu
Sen mandago flagging off the program

The money was stolen, and the committee headed by Mr. Gilbert Chepkonga has approved getting it back in order to help some of the students who are allegedly stuck in Finnish colleges.

According to the report, the Uasin Gishu County Government opened the “Uasin Gishu County Government Overseas Trust Fund” account in Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in order to receive tuition fees for the students who would benefit from the scholarship program. This was done under the supervision of former governor Jackson Mandago, who is currently the Uasin Gishu Senator.

Kept in the dark

Parents who applied for the chance were required to pay a fee of Sh6,500 for the interview, but they were not given receipts for the payment, complained to the committee under the leadership of Mr. Reuben Chepses Koech.

After that, the students had to pay 8,650 euros, which is equal to Sh1.19 million in school fees, Sh80,000 for three months of housing, Sh30,000 for insurance, Sh49,000 for a visa, Sh5,000 for the Covid test, and Sh100,000 for their flights.

In addition to receiving acceptance letters from their various colleges, qualified candidates also received certificates of a full scholarship from the County Government of Uasin Gishu.

On September 14, 2021, Mr. Mandago flagged off the first batch of 51 students to travel to Tampere to study in various fields, in the partnership that sought to produce qualified health personnel for the international labor market, while at the same time addressing youth unemployment.

However, according to the report by the committee, the implementation of the program was a highly guarded secret that even then-county head of Education Joseph Kurgat was kept in the dark, despite it being under his docket.

Mr. Kurgat told the committee that the program was not discussed at the county Cabinet level and no policy framework was tabled for Cabinet approval.

He mentioned multiple instances where his juniors’ displeasure with the program’s functioning forced him to ask Mr. Mandago for help in getting the officers to give pertinent data so that his office could address concerns brought up by parents.


According to the report, the program was run by Mr. Joseph Maritim, the former principal trustee and director of the Uasin Gishu County Education Revolving Fund, Mr. Joel Ruto, the director of the Uasin Gishu County Revolving Fund, and Mr. Meshack Rono, the deputy director of the Uasin Gishu County Revolving Fund.

Source :Nation Airlift to Finland scandal

Forgery, abuse of office

The committee has advised that the proposals for forgery and abuse of office be looked into by EACC, DCI, and other pertinent agencies.

According to the report, the devolved unit did not formally engage the public to obtain feedback on the program, and it did not adhere to the Public Finance Management Act. As a result, the funds intended for the scholarship were not categorized as public funds but rather were used for community engagement built on mutual trust.

The county assembly requests that the county attorney resign while inquiries into possible professional negligence are ongoing.

“The county attorney failed to advise the county government in his capacity as the principal legal advisor about the program and its consequences,” the report states.

The assembly also wants the Advocates’ Complaints Commission to investigate Mr. Stephen Lel and recommend appropriate action taken against him.

The committee is also demanding a forensic financial audit of the Uasin Gishu Education Overseas Trust Account at the KCB Eldoret East branch, and that county employees mentioned as beneficiaries of the transactions from the account be suspended pending investigations.

According to bank statements tabled before the committee, several individuals, including senior county officials are among the irregular beneficiaries of funds meant for the students.

“The County Executive to engage the services of an independent and reputable external forensic auditor to audit the account and report back to the county assembly within 30 days. The forensic auditor’s term of reference shall be to analyze the financial data to look for evidence of the crime,” said the report.

Following the MCAs’ inquiry, the CEO of Maxglobal Group, Mr. Cornelius Kiplagat, whose company served as a liaison between the University of Tampere and the Uasin Gishu County Government for the program, must return Sh267,599.50 he got from the foreign account.

It was discovered that Maxglobal received 267,599.50 via check no. 297 dated July 5, 2022, from the Uasin Gishu Overseas Trust Account, despite Mr. Kiplagat’s claims before the committee that he had been given Sh500,000 as a mark of appreciation by Mr. Mandago.

“The CEO of Maxglobal group to refund the money paid to him out of the overseas education trust and any other money received as a token. The monies be deposited in the same account because it is parents’ money,” stated the report.

The committee further requests that KCB look into and discipline any staff members who were negligent in enabling the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust Account to be formed without doing proper research.

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The investigation finds that although they were not entitled to a financial benefit, some trustees received substantial financial gains from withdrawals from the account.

The committee asked the county administration to allow students who had already paid fees and other expenses to fly to Finland to complete the process while also stopping the Department of Education from accepting any new applications for programs offered abroad.

“Students who paid fees and wish to be refunded, be refunded immediately without unnecessary delays. The program should also be domiciled in the County Government of Uasin Gishu after appropriate policies and laws have been enacted to guide the program,” recommended the committee.

It further wants any commitments by the devolved unit and foreign countries on similar programs put on hold until proper policies and guidelines are put in place.

“The County Assembly is aware that the County Executive has similar engagement with other countries like Canada. We advise that those engagements be suspended until proper policy framework is established,” the report states.

Late last year, the Governor of Uasin Gishu Jonathan Bii met with representatives of Tampere City University to discuss a solution that would allow students to learn more effectively. The county assembly committee would address the “few” managerial shortcomings, he said.

“My administration is providing more transparency by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with parents and also ensuring parents are trustee members in education trust so that they have more say in the management of the program,” said the governor.

Pekka Salmi, the deputy mayor of Tampere City, oozed assurance that the problems can be handled to make it easier for the two parties to work together.

“This program is a win-win for both Uasin Gishu county and Finland. The students are entrepreneurial and in high demand by most employers,” said Mr. Salmi. 

According to Dr. Caritas Prokui of Tampere University, Finnish universities and colleges are willing to address the program’s early issues and secure its sustainability.

“We want to continue this program and have more students in Finland. There are many opportunities they will be getting for our mutual benefit,” said Ms. Prokui.

However, as there was no direct contract with the parents, Uasin Gishu County was required to pay the tuition. Some of the parents who were interviewed stated that they would be happy to pay the university directly.

They want the agreement evaluated so that the relevant universities offer them accounts so they can pay the tuition directly, facilitating their children’s easy study.

Barry Ipapo

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Barry Ipapo

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