School Feeding Program

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It has been proven that when children receive a proper meal during their school period their learning capabilities tend to augment. This happens because the attention capability of children is enhanced and so is their learning process.

The School Feeding Program

With this in mind, the Colombian government has developed the School Feeding Program (PAE, initials in Spanish). The idea is that there is a nationwide coverage in terms of food in all the country’s institutions.

Solkes © Solkes

The School Feeding Program is the responsibility of the National Ministry.

Going into detail we must say that in theory The School Feeding Program must provide a food supplement to children and teens throughout the country. They should be registered under the Touition System -SIMAT- (initials in Spanish) as official students, who are financed with funds from the General System of Participations.

It’s main objective is to contribute to the permanence of the school system students and to provide the necessary nutrients for their feeding.

The program offers three types of food supplements:

Morning food complement: this modality is recommended for children and teens who are enrolled in the morning classes.

Afternoon food supplement: for children and teens who are enrolled in the afternoon shift.

Lunch: for children and teens who are enrolled in a single day and / or in the afternoon.

The problems

That sounds like a great initiative. This is a project that can really help youth in Colombia. But, unfortunately not everything is as good as it sounds.

Solkes © Solkes

As political scientist María Claudia Vanegas assured us, one of the biggest problems is that our society, the Colombian one, is very accustomed to corruption.

This is why it does not enrage us, it is something we take for granted, something that will happen in each scenario. It annoys us when we see that the problem reaches the media. It is at that moment where we go nuts.

At this moment, February 2019, in four of the seven departments of the Caribbean Coast the programs has not yet begun. And, we must clarify that classes started almost a month ago (January 21). On the other hand, in departments like Cesar, Sincelejo, Córdoba and Cartagena have not yet started the programs.

Solkes: What do you think about the School Feeding Program?

Amparo Duarte, mother: I am very grateful that this program exists. My children and nephews benefit from it.

Raúl Sarmiento, father: Well, it’s a good thing. I hope they do not steal all the talk that is for the food.

Corruption is around the corner

Although the Ministry of Education has been reiterative in stating that the PAE should start operating on par with the school calendar, this has not been fulfilled. A perfect example is Sucre. To date, the PAE has not started in any of the 26 Sucreño municipalities and less in the department. The latter is the only one that is already hired for $ 14.99 billion and will provide the nutritional supplement service to 60 thousand students, a figure lower than that of the previous year.

As if that were not enough, in the 24 municipalities of Cesar, the School Feeding Program would be starting at the end of February. It has to start late because he does not have enough resources.

In addition to the many setbacks that the School Feeding Plan has had, there are a series of irregularities in its past.

Solkes © Solkes

In a context such as the School Feeding Program at the national level, surrounded by cases of corruption and mismanagement that put at risk the food of Colombians. The intervention of Colombia Compra Eficiente (decentralized entity that is the rector of the Public Purchase of Colombia) pretends to guarantee transparency.

We would like to emphasize that Alimentos Daza, Comercializadora Disfrutaver, Best Colombian Fruits, Alimentos Spress and Namasté Foods, committed irregularities when bidding for the purchase of fruits within the School Food Program, PAE, in Bogotá.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

Thus, an investigation was organized to clarify the facts. Within said investigation, the impact of a first tender was verified, in which the aforementioned companies agreed not to submit proposals. By not presenting the proposed bidding process was declared void.

It was also demonstrated that in a second tender the companies would have agreed to limit the participation of other suppliers and increase the prices of the products 45.2%.

Solkes: What do you think about the School Feeding Program?

María Claudia V, political scientist: The PAE is not a new concept. It is an initiative that exists in several countries around the world. The idea is to provide a support to the canteens so that the students can have the necessary food to contribute to their development. I think it is important and necessary that we have the Esclolar Food Program in Colombia.

Trying to solve it

With all these problems, with a past so full of corruption and bad blood, they decided to implement changes. Some of these changes or corrective measures are:

The Ministry of Finance, the National Planning Department and the Ministry of Education increased the program’s budget to a total of $ 1.7 billion by 2019.

The territorial entities will incorporate the resources in their budgets and initiate the contracting process. In this way school feeding will reach the official educational institutions from the beginning of the 2019 school year and during all the days of the school calendar.

In addition to the many setbacks that the School Feeding Plan has had there are a series of irregularities in its past.

In a context such as the School Feeding Program at the national level, surrounded by cases of corruption and mismanagement that put at risk not only the food of Colombians. The intervention of Colombia Compra Eficiente (decentralized entity that is the rector of the Public Purchase of Colombia) pretends to guarantee transparency.

The Ministry of Health will guard and develop accompanying routes, make inspection and surveillance reports on health and hygiene.

Colombia Compra Eficiente and the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce will provide accompaniment so that the territorial entities have better capacities in contracting and public purchases. Likewise, it will build a bank of qualified providers to solve emergencies derived from eventual disqualifications of suppliers of the PAE.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

The School Feeding Program in Monteria aims to bring nutritional supplements to at least 20,392 children from public institutions of the municipality, began to have serious questions about the poor quality of the rations delivered.

In conclusion, this great initiative is in trouble. Problems that have existed since the beginning. However, the necessary measures are being taken to improve and achieve it. The only thing that is true, apart from its complicated past, is that Colombian children need this type of initiative. It is necessary that we work to offer a change, a life option. Education is the key to a decent future.

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