Namibian School Feeding Programme tenders were renewed seven times consecutively without the awarding authority assessing the performance of the service providers, auditor general Junias Kandjeke has found.
In a report tabled in parliament this week, Kandjeke said auditors were also unable to establish whether tenders were awarded as per government procurement as there weren’t any tenders for the NSFP awarded between 2017 and 2020. “Education ministry should devise and implement measures to assess the performance of the service providers before their tender contracts are extended in order to hold them accountable for activities not implanted,” Kandjeke advised.
According to Kandjeke, the auditors also found that the education ministry did not conduct any testing of maize blend distributed to the country’s 431 500 learners to ascertain its composition in terms of its ingredients, thus it could not be established whether there was compliance to the specifications in the tender contracts.
He said there were also discrepancies between maize blend stocks received in relation to stock ordered, with the most significant being an undersupply of 149 maize blend bags in terms of one tender in 2019 for Khomas region.
To this, Kandjeke directed the ministry to engage relevant stakeholders and device mechanisms to ensure that the maize blend samples are taken for testing to conform to the quality of ingredients as per established standards.
Another issue uncovered by Kandjeke is the delay in delivering food to schools which he said ranges from between one and nine weeks on average, to which he advised the ministry to develop strategies that will ensure the delivery of maize blend to schools at the beginning of the term so that delays do not occur.
When schools opened in August this year, many schools did not have any food to give to learners and some schools only received food by September. The education ministry was given the green light by the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) at the beginning of May to carry out emergency procurement, but the process was delayed.
The availability of food impacts class attendance, especially in marginalised communities, as the meal learners get at school is often the only meal they consume a day.
He recommended that the ministry develop an action plan and device mechanisms to ensure that all regional focal points participate in the reception storage of maize blend at the regional warehouse.
He further advised the ministry to devise action plans that outline clear measures to monitor food distribution, the supply chain, as well as external control of the service providers to enforce compliance to contract conditions.
“The ministry should put in place an action plan to ensure that there is an active involvement of education inspectors in the NSFP matters,” Kandjeke said.
School feeding programmes are used to promote school enrolment and assist to keep children in school around the world, especially when vulnerable communities’ circumstances of food security forces parents to withdraw children from schools.
The NSFP is fully administered by the education ministry with the support of the World Food Programme (WFP) and other donor organisations.