Alleged irregularities in purchasing lab equipment creates rift between faculty members

Alleged irregularities in procuring equipment for science labs in model schools have created rift between faculty members which further has delayed the procurement process depriving schoolchildren of practical classes.

Following the allegations, District Education Officer A. Jagadeesh has asked the District Collector, T. Chiranjeevulu, to convene a meeting with all the 33 model school principals on Saturday.

Sources said the Collector would check the status of the procurement process and initiate action against those who had flouted norms.

It may be recalled that every model school has received Rs.2 lakh sanctioned by Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) last September to purchase lab equipment. And the school management was given time till November 1 to complete the process.

According to a circular issued to all the school principals by Commissioner and Director of School Education and Ex-officio Project Director of RMSA, G. Vanimohan, every school should constitute a Lab Equipment Procurement Committee with Government Junior College principal and its two science lecturers, concerned model school’s PG teachers in Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology as members and principal of the school as the convener. The decision to spend Rs.2 lakh lies with the committee and the remaining amount after purchasing the lab equipment should be spent on buying sports material. A teacher from a model school said that in most cases, the principals did not inform the teachers about their role in procuring the equipment.

Moreover, the principal, who is a member convener in the committee, never convened a meeting in this regard. “The principals, with the help of one or two teachers, prepared an acceptance letter in violation of the tender process and asked the science teachers to sign on them, the sources revealed.

As per the procedure, the committees should find at least three organisations for supplying the apparatus and invite them to file sealed tenders. The tenders should be opened before all the committee members and lowest quoted tender should be accepted without compromising on quality, but none of these happened.

The members of the committee also have to sign the letter again accepting the procurement after checking the material and its price. But members in most schools refused to sign stating that the principals have procured sub-standard apparatus paying more than MRP.

Further, they fear the authorities would take them to task if they were found supporting the purchase of inferior quality material.

Speaking to The Hindu, another model school teacher said the students would ultimately suffer and clarified that they would not sign on the acceptance letter till quality material was purchased.