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US halts aid to Kenyan education programs

Associated Press / January 27, 2010

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NAIROBI - The United States has suspended a five-year plan to fund Kenya’s education programs following allegations that more than $1 million in funds went missing at the Education Ministry, its ambassador said yesterday.

The United States made the decision based on claims late last year that Education Ministry officials misappropriated $1.3 million of Kenyan government and donor funds to finance the country’s free primary school education program, US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said at a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.

“Those culpable for the fraud should not merely be sacked; they should be prosecuted and put behind bars,’’ Ranneberger said.

The US funding was to be $7 million and begin this year, the ambassador said.

Kenya’s Finance Ministry audited the program late last year and found the funds missing. Britain announced in December that it was suspending its funding of the program.

Britain’s funding totaled $88.8 million over a five-year period, beginning in 2005.

When Kenya started the program in 2003, it earned praise across the world because more than 1 million children who had never been to school enrolled.

Ranneberger once again called on Kenya to speed up wide-ranging changes deemed necessary to avoid a repeat of the violence that followed the 2007 presidential poll.