Action vowed over school lunch cheats

Full system review, promises Anupong

Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda has vowed to take tough action against those involved in misusing funds for school lunch programmes, saying that stricter terms should be imposed on private caterers hired to provide lunches for students.

Gen Anupong said school directors under the supervision of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec), as well as local governing officials have been instructed to ensure that contracts signed between school directors and caterers should include terms that allow schools to scrap the contracts if meals are found to be of low or insufficient quality.

He also said he had ordered investigators to check if school directors were forced or coerced by anyone to sign the contracts.

He added that district chiefs and local officials have been told to make regular random inspections of meals provided by schools, and to ensure that private caterers also display the menus for each meal time so that students know what they will be eating for lunch.

"If the probes find that anyone has been involved in misusing the funds, they will face both criminal and civil action," said Gen Anupong.

The move came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) division in Nakhon Ratchasima found that at least four schools in the province had supplied students with substandard lunches.

According to the NACC, some of the schools only spent part of their budgets and could not explain where the rest of the money had gone.

Some claimed that they did not embezzle it, but had spent the rest of the money on other student activities such as sports.

In some cases, the number of students registered for school lunch programmes was found to be higher than the number of students enrolled in the schools, suggesting that student numbers were falsified so that the schools could claim more cash.

The findings have dealt another blow to the credibility of the state-run school lunch programme in which the Ministry of Education gives pre-schools and elementary schools 20 baht per pupil per day.

As a result of the scandal, Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantharanothai said he has also set up a separate committee to investigate the matter.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, a panel investigating school lunches at Maheyong School revealed that the volume of food was not adequate for the number of students on June 28 and July 1.

The investigation was made after a video clip showing "leftovers" served for lunch at the school was posted online and quickly grabbed social media attention.

The school director Amporn Dankhongrak was abruptly transferred last week.

However, the panel suggested the school director be reprimanded before being allowed to return to work.

 

 

Sources : https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1709595/action-vowed-over-school-lunch-cheats

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