At least 4,700 students could have benefited fraudulently from the Fund for the Assistance of Genocide Survivors (FARG)’s scholarship programme, it has emerged.
And this figure could rise up to 17,000 after the conclusion of the ongoing screening, Theophille Ruberangeyo, the executive secretary, FARG, told The New Times on Friday.
The investigations are due to be completed by July, when the next financial year gets underway, he added.
A previous audit had indicated that as many as 17,000 students who benefited from FARG funding since the Fund’s establishment in 1998 may not have been bona fide beneficiaries after all, Ruberangeyo said.
We are now verifying each case with about 12,000 left, he said.
A total of 92, 349 FARG-sponsored students completed secondary education, with 9,931 going on to complete university, while 9,759 are still in secondary school and 18,539 are currently in university.
Ruberangeyo said that the ongoing screening had established that about 300 were genuine beneficiaries and therefore cleared of any wrongdoing.
He said once the screening exercise has been completed, those found to have benefited from the Fund unlawfully will be dragged to court and be made to reimburse the funds.
Officials blamed the fraudulent beneficiaries for a significant number of survivors who are currently out of school – due to shortage of funds.
There are an estimated 8,920 youths who unsuccessfully applied to FARG seeking university scholarship last year alone.
Olivier Ishimwe, who lives in Avega village of Genocide in Kimironko in Kigali’s Gasabo District, is one of them.
He completed A’ level in 2013 but failed to join university because he lacked capacity to raise tuition fees.
“I am an orphan and cannot afford school fees or even start a small business on my own,” he said, adding that he is now waiting to see if FARG will consider him in the next academic year.
There are also those who were unable to retain their scholarship after they performed poorly at Ordinary or Advanced levels.
Cases of fraud started to emerge in 2010 after the introduction of
FARG Management Information System, which is linked to both the National Identification Agency (NIDA) and the National Electoral Commission data systems.
The ongoing screening is being carried out by community-based committees, which are comprised of local leaders (cell, sector and district); neighbours; Genocide survivors including representatives of Ibuka (umbrella of Genocide survivors), Avega (association of Genocide widows) and AERG (survivor students association); FARG; as well as the representatives of the police and the military.
Some of the illegitimate beneficiaries are said to have been outside the country during the Genocide or born after the slaughter which claimed the lives of at least a million lives.
Ruberangeyo says about 70 per cent of its budget goes to education.
Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, pointed an accusing finger at grassroots committees that draw up the lists of children to benefit from FARG education scheme, saying measures should be taken to purge corruption in the exercise.