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In Uasin Gishu County, a high-profile education scam involving over 300 parents and several county officers is currently under investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The case, dubbed the "Finnish Education Scam", is centered around a scheme promising Finnish educational opportunities for students. The matter has sparked anger and protests, with parents claiming to have collectively lost more than Sh300 million.

Timeline of Events

The first hint of a scam came to light when affected parents discovered their children missed out on an educational programme in Finland for which they had paid substantial sums to the county. This discovery led to protests, notably at the governor's office in Kapseret, where parents demanded a refund.

In response to the escalating situation, DCI instructed over 300 parents and county officials to record statements, starting on a Tuesday that fell on July 18. The DCI headquarters in Nairobi issued a directive for all aggrieved parties to present relevant documents related to the case during their visit.

The situation grew more complex when Senator for Uasin Gishu, Jackson Mandago, defended himself against allegations of involvement in the scam, stating that he did not swindle any money from the programme. Mandago pointed to his successor, Governor Jonathan Bii, arguing that he handed over the programme to Bii's administration with more than Sh104 million in the programme's bank accounts.

However, Governor Bii had previously disclosed that the account only had Sh1.8 million, contradicting Mandago's claims. The governor urged Mandago to explain his knowledge about the programme since it had been started during his tenure.

As investigations unfolded, a crisis meeting was held involving Governor Bii, Senator Mandago, and other county leaders, aiming to resolve the row over the education scam. Yet, following the meeting, no immediate statement was issued.

Shockingly, amidst the DCI probe, a top Uasin Gishu official, among three who had been suspended due to the scam, fled the country with his family. This official, notably a signatory to the bank account where parents deposited their money, managed to leave despite an ongoing investigation by both DCI and EACC.

Implications

The unfolding events have massive potential implications, primarily for the victims of the scam, who have unequivocally demanded their money back. Their loss has instigated a wave of public unrest, which could escalate if they are not adequately compensated.

The scam also brings into focus the accountability and integrity of county officials and leaders, with potential political fallout for those implicated. This case could significantly impact public confidence in local governance and overseas education programmes.

Furthermore, the unfolding situation is being closely watched by the international community, and particularly by Finnish stakeholders. The scandal may influence future bilateral educational exchanges and partnerships, and could potentially prompt policy changes to protect individuals from similar scams.

As investigations continue, the resolution of this case will undoubtedly serve as a lesson for other regions in mitigating and preventing education scams. It underscores the importance of accountability, transparency, and robust checks and balances in overseas education programmes.

HT

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