The former Minister of State for Education, Isaac Munyakazi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined Rwf10 million in a corruption-related case.
According to the judge, the Munyakazi was found guilty of abuse of office, and being complicit in the case where his co-accused was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years in jail.
The stern punishment is yet another reminder that public office is about serving the interest of the general public and should be held in high regard.
Using public office for your own benefit or to advance the interests of your friends can be costly to you or your family but worse still is the adverse effects it can have on the public you are appointed or elected to serve.
Munyakazi’s accomplice, Abdu Gahima, a school owner, used his money to bribe his school into the list of top performers in the country and a couple of his students appear on the list of best performers.
During the proceedings, the court heard that when the 2019 national exam results were released, Gahima’s school, Good Harvest came at number 9 in the country, and yet, based on its performance, it should have been ranked 143.
And, for their students, one was ranked 7th in the country, yet they should have been 611. The other who was ranked 9th should have been 229.
It is not clear how the system was manipulated to enable the school to jump over 130 places in the national rankings or how one of their students was able to jump over 600 places.
Of course, owning a school can be a profitable business and if your school performs well, you can charge a premium and the returns will be higher.
Due to the competitiveness of private schools today, unscrupulous businesspeople will not hesitate to resort to unethical or illegal means to gain an advantage - that is where it gets dangerous.
Whatever Gahima’s objective was, cheating in any academic setting is totally unacceptable and should be condemned and punished. The moment an education system gets dirty, the impact can be adverse and very difficult to reverse, with the possibility of destroying people’s futures.
But beyond that, it is widely recognised that corruption has economic, political and social costs on any country. Fighting it is a collective effort and the former Minister’s sentence should serve as a lesson to those in public office.