Trouble is brewing at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) after the acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Joel Mabonga on Wednesday August 5 sent six top managers on compulsory leave.
A human rights body wrote to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) following complaints about alleged corruption and human rights violations by Mabonga, even as the Ministry of Education yesterday advertised the position of CEO at the institution.
In the letter by Human Rights Focus, Mabonga is accused of manipulating the evaluation of Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) Grade 5 textbooks, resulting in huge losses after the tendering process was tampered with.
The exercise, according to the human rights body, was shrouded with irregularities where unqualified publishers were awarded the tender.
“Dr Mabonga personally attended the book evaluation exercise where he negotiated with publishers and changed some awards to suit his preferred companies,” read the letter signed by Pauline Mumbua, the Complaints Officer and also copied to Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Office of Director of Public Prosecutions and the Education Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education.
The six managers sent on seven months compulsory leave are secondary education deputy director Ruth Mugambi, Olive Mbuthia, Director of Primary Education, Solomon Kathuo, Deputy Director, Finance, Emmanuel Mulwa, Deputy Director Human Resources, Emily Sila, Deputy Director, Resource centre and John Kimotho, Senior Director, Media.
When contacted, Mabonga laughed off the allegations, saying he was not aware of the letter since nobody contacted him.
“I cannot comment on the content of the letter since I have not seen it. The letter is addressed to the investigators and not me, let them investigate,” Mabonga told People Daily.
“The future of schools’ curriculum in Kenya is threatened because senior curriculum experts and other senior members of management have sent on forced leave,” wrote the lobby.
Some of the officers have worked at the institution for over 15 years and have left the institution at a time when they were needed more to improve the on remote online learning which is being embraced during the COVID-19 crisis.
Donors have already given Sh1.2 billion for the remote online project, which is aimed at offering e-learning through radio and television.
The lobby claims that senior officers who advised against the skewed textbook evaluation, we removed without any tangible reason.
Suppliers of textbooks in the Sh1.7 Billion tender had the quotations submitted on Friday July 3 and awarded on July 6 with no evaluation process being conducted.
“This is impunity of the highest order, illegal and blatant abuse of office,” the lobby raged in the letter to the EACC.
According to the lobby, Mabonga was appointed in February before completing his probation period.
Before joining KICD, he worked at the Independent Police Oversight Authority as the Chief Executive Officer.
He was named acting CEO to replace Dr Julius Jwan on May 2, who was appointed principal secretary in the Education ministry.
The emerging skirmish at the KICD came as learners in both primary and secondary schools reportedly shunned lessons endorsed by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.
A report by the Daily Nation on Wednesday, August 5, indicated that most students avoided online content developed by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).
The students preffered getting their content from other platforms including Viuasa Ellimu, Longhorn Publishers and Shupavu 291.
The Education CS had endorsed the content by KICD highly noting that the institution is an extension of his ministry and that it provided quality content.
Other platforms such as Viusasa have since figured out ways to make the content interesting by hiring real time teachers who answer questions from students.
The research, conducted by a local telco, surveyed 24,053 students indicating that more girls were seeking online content than boys.
The report also indicated that many students disclosed that they accessed the materials using their mothers’ phones (46%) than their fathers (17%).
The CS has previously been concerned with poor digital learning coverage for students in public institutions and on Thursday, July 30, confirmed details of a communal learning program targeting students stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new program would enable students undertake classes in the open, in social halls and other community spaces with teachers on the government payroll leading lessons.
It is set to begin in September, and has been widely perceived as a shift away from the digital learning program which has left many learners from low-income backgrounds disenfranchised.