Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) is to account for teaching and learning materials and other educational items that are estimated to be worth over Le48 Billion Leones.

Sourcing from the Auditor General Report 2021, Gleaner newspaper revealed that various suppliers failed to deliver to the Ministry, forty-eight billion, one hundred and seven-seven million, six hundred and three thousand, nine hundred and seventy-five Leones (Le48,177,603,975) worth of learning materials and other educational supplies.

It is furthered reported that in December 2020, the Ministry signed contracts worth One hundred and thirteen billion eight hundred million (Le113,800,000,000) for the supply of Teaching and Learning materials (TLMs).

It was observed that 60% as of 19th March 2021 and it was expected that 100% delivery of these materials should have been made by 19th June 2021, which was before the start of the 2021/2022 academic year. Contrary to the contract Terms, there was no evidence that total delivery had been made by the suppliers. Investigations revealed that Teaching and Learning materials valued at Le48,177,603,975 had not been delivered by the various suppliers to the Ministry,” Gleaner reported.

According to the report, some suppliers even defaulted to supply the TLMS advance payment that was made and TLMs equivalent of advance payment received.

It further stated that, “In 2021, the Ministry signed a contract worth Four million, five hundred and twelve thousand, two hundred and nineteen United States dollars (US$4,512,219) for the printing and supply of civic education books. It was observed that a 30% advance payment was made as of November 2021, and it was expected that 100% delivery of these books should have been made by 31st January 2022.”

Gleaner noted that contrary to the contract terms, there was no evidence that the suppliers had made total delivery, adding that of most concern is that the advance payment guarantees and performance bonds submitted by these suppliers had expired, even though the contractors had received advance payments and were yet to fully perform or deliver the civic education books.

From a re-computation of deliveries made to local councils against a schedule of requirements as per contracts, It was observed that Eleven thousand, two hundred and eighteen (11,218) books valued at Two hundred and ninety million (Le290,000,000) were not supplied,” the report stated.

Responding to the Non-delivery or Short Supply of Educational Items, the senior permanent secretary of the ministry stated that Considerable progress had been made by the suppliers in the delivery of TLMs and added that most suppliers had completed delivery and Verifications are always conducted by joint teams of staff of the MBSSE from the stores and inventory, the Internal Audit and the FQSE Units, Gleaner reported.

The senior permanent secretary explained to them that additional deliveries have been reported and verified and updated verification reports are available for verification.

But auditors revealed that evidence of complete delivery by the suppliers, valid advance payment guarantees and performance bonds for the unfulfilled contracts were not submitted for audit inspection,” the report stated. “Additionally, evidence of the Procurement Committee’s decision on the two suppliers who received advance payments, but had not commenced supplies of the TLMS, was not submitted for audit inspection.