Parents threaten to protest over botched Finland and Canada study programmes

Uasin Gishu residents protest over the missing of school fees and airlift money for education studies in Finland. August 9, 2023. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Parents and students affected by the botched Uasin Gishu County overseas study program have threatened to resume street protests to press for a refund of their money.

They claimed that they are yet to be re-paid their hard-earned money despite numerous calls for refunds for more than a year now.

The parents have been agitating for refunds of amounts running into millions of shillings which they had paid for. Some opted to file cases for refunds at the small claims court in Eldoret.

Parents are demanding more than Sh 850 million, which they paid for the overseas education program that would have seen their children study in Finland and Canada.

On Monday, more than 300 affected parents held a meeting in Eldoret and claimed they had been abandoned even after being asked to be patient so that they could be refunded.

Led by Daniel Birgen and Edward Kiptek, the parents said they are united and will keep demanding their dues.

"We have been patient enough but our leaders, both at national and county level have abandoned us. We are now back in full swing to demand our rights," Kiptek said.

The parents said despite promises that their children would be awarded scholarships, no information has been forthcoming.

He alleged that the same individuals who were responsible for messing up the education program are now spreading rumours that the parents and students had been refunded.

"We want to unequivocally dispel such rumours. None of us has been refunded and none of our children has been taken out for to study," Kiptek said.

He argued that the parents had been divided with others opting to go to court but noted that they are now united and will continue agitating for the refunds.

Birgen said that those claiming parents were refunded should come out to declare the same rather than spread empty rumours and hearsay.

“More than 348 parents have not been paid back their money. We are wondering who has been refunded because our lives are still the same and our children are home,” said Birgen.

The parents also want President William Ruto to intervene and honour his promise to help them.

Last year, the parents denied statements issued by the county leadership claiming that Sh 68 million had been refunded to 121 parents who had opted out of the program.

“We entrusted the county government of Uasin Gishu with our money but they have since taken us in circles. Right now, we are barred from accessing their offices and the only option left is to go back to protests and demand what is rightfully ours,” said Shadrack Juma, one of the affected parents. 

Kelvin Bett, one of the students who was to travel to Finland, said their education is at stake.

“We were promised that we would be given scholarships to join local universities but the same has never materialised,” he said.

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