Spotlight on irregularities with the digital books tender by the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education purchasing continues to make headlines. Diario Libre reports on 3 August 2022 that journalist Tania Molina when covering a recent purchase of digital books for public schools learned that the person designated as one of the two partners of tender winning School Teams SRL, Primitivo Santos, has denied knowing anything about the company.

On 2 June 2022 the Ministry of Education awarded to 10 companies more than RD$1.8 billion for the purchase of digital books. The tender was carried out with the procedure of exception that is used when the government determines these are the only possible candidates for the tender.

On 12 July 2022, the Procurement Agency (DGCP) suspended the digital books tender of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education has held press conferences to defend the tender.

The Diario Libre report on 3 August 2022 indicates that the company School Teams SRL was first registered in 2015 and held its last general assembly in March 2021. The partners are Amalfi Beatriz Ureña and Primitivo Santos. The newspaper found out that according to the details on Primitivo Santos’ ID, he is a 76-year old chauffeur. When reached by the Diario Libre reporter, Santos said he did not know anything about the company.

Later, in his name a lawyer delivered to the newspaper a document that states Santos left the company in February. Nevertheless, Diario Libre says that Santos’ signature appears in the official documents of the digital books tender, and there are letters in which he authorizes three companies to represent him before the Ministry of Education as the author of the digital textbooks.

Diario Libre says that the official address of School Teams is Calle Juan Erazo 10 in Villa Juana, but that at that address there is no sign that indicates that the company is located there. Calls to the telephone on the letterhead of School Teams were not answered. A call answering machine indicated the person was calling the telephone of Amalfi Ureña, the other partner of the company, in addition to Primitivo Santos.

Diario Libre reports that three of the winning companies of the RD$1.8 billion digital books tender indicate that School Teams was the author of the digital books. These are Ediciones Unidas del Caribe , CA-Mart Soluciones and Cocolo Editorial.

Diario Libre reports that School Teams SRL has been a government supplier in the past. The newspaper indicates that a bid for the supplying of Covid-19 face masks and anti-bacterial gel to the Central Electoral Board (JCE) was signed by the same Primitivo Santos.

On Tuesday, Minister of Education Roberto Furcal held a press conference at a city hotel to render a report on his two years as Minister of Education. He disputed statistics that show major desertion of children from schools during the pandemic years when he disallowed public and private schools from opening to in-person learning. He said that 91.7% of the elementary students attended classes 2021-2022 school year and 82.3% of high school students. He said the government invested in seven TV channels, 40 radio stations for the remote learning programs.

During 2020 and most of 2021, Furcal insisted in keeping schools closed to in-person learning and delayed in fitting public schools for the return to classes. Over his two years as Minister of Education, Furcal has accumulated a record of headlines reporting on irregularities in purchasing at the Ministry of Education and contracting of personnel.

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Diario Libre
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Altagracia Salazar Sin Maquillaje

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DR1 News

3 August 2022