Following the announcement by the Attorney General’s Office, which indicated that the execution of the School Feeding Program “runs the risk of being suspended in at least 12 territorial entities as a result of the lack of budget”, the Ombudsman’s Office indicated that they are leading actions to guarantee continuity of the PAE in Neiva and Pitalito in Huila.
Newspaper of Huila, Huila
By: Gloria Camargo
Faced with the alarming warning issued by the Attorney General’s Office about the imminent risk of suspension of the School Meals Program (PAE) in various regions of the country due to lack of budget, the Ombudsman’s Office took urgent measures to ensure the continuity of the program in Neiva and Pitalito, two important municipalities in the department of Huila.
In response to the warning, a team from the Huila Regional Office of the Ombudsman called an emergency meeting with the local authorities and territorial entities in charge of executing the PAE in the area.
The central purpose of this meeting was to verify the current status of the program and seek solutions to guarantee its continuity, thus avoiding leaving more than 800,000 children who depend on it without food.
The meeting, led by the Ombudsman’s Office, was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Development of Neiva and Pitalito. During the meeting, the financial and logistical situation of the PAE in both municipalities was analyzed, evaluating the possible alternatives to ensure the supply of food to the students.
Given the uncertainty generated by the lack of budget at the national level, the Ombudsman’s Office called on the competent authorities and the National Government to allocate the necessary resources and take the pertinent measures to ensure the continuity of the PAE throughout the country. Likewise, he urged territorial entities to seek local solutions that contribute to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable children.
In the midst of this critical situation, it is hoped that the emergency meeting in Neiva and Pitalito will serve as an example for other regions of the country, where they are also at risk of suspension of the PAE.
The Ombudsman announced that, as a result, a meeting will be held in Neiva next week. At this meeting, the Mayor and the Secretary of Finance of Neiva will be present, with the aim of guaranteeing that approximately 38,000 girls, boys and adolescents continue to benefit from the School Feeding Program (PAE).
Additionally, it was revealed that a meeting had previously been held in Neiva, where the technical team of the Ministry of Education in charge of the PAE participated.
During this meeting, the need to establish institutional commitments that allow obtaining and executing the necessary resources for the continuity of the program during this year 2023 became evident.
The objective is to carry out a social control on the execution of the resources that are expected to be assigned through the Food for Learning Unit, an entity attached to the Ministry of Education.
Why the alert?
The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation has informed the Ministry of National Education and the Food for Learning Unit (UApA) about the difficulties faced by the School Feeding Program (PAE) in several municipalities and departments of the country due to the high costs of products from the family basket.
Problems have been identified to continue with the PAE in the municipalities of Villavicencio, Montería, Sincelejo, Uribía, Pitalito and Neiva, as well as in the departments of Caquetá, Cauca, Guaviare, Norte de Santander, Boyacá and Huila.
One of the most alarming cases is that of the municipality of Pitalito and the department of Huila, where the suspension of the program is expected in June and August, respectively.
This situation jeopardizes the nutrition of children and young people who depend on the PAE to receive adequate nutrition during their school day.
In addition, as a consequence of the lack of budget, some territorial entities have considered the possibility of reducing the coverage of the PAE. Faced with this problem, these entities have been urged to implement the necessary strategies to address this situation and prevent the constitutional rights of access and permanence in education of approximately 808,453 children and young people in these territories from being affected.
The Minister of Education, Aurora Vergara Figueroa, announced during the National Meeting of Education Secretariats that a budget addition of $2.2 billion has been approved that will help cover part of the School Food Program (PAE).
These additional funds will be used both to finance the goals of the National Development Plan and to payroll expenses of the Teachers’ pensioners, in addition to increasing the coverage of the PAE.
According to Minister Vergara Figueroa, the additional $2.2 billion will be of vital importance to strengthen the financing of the goals established in the National Development Plan, especially with regard to higher education.
During the meetings, representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Development of Neiva and Pitalito were present.
These resources will make it possible to move towards the goal of providing access opportunities to 500,000 new students from all regions of the country, with special attention to those young people from vulnerable contexts.
The increase in the budget for higher education is a significant step to guarantee equity and inclusion in the educational system.
Minister Vergara highlighted the importance of ensuring that all young people, regardless of their socioeconomic or geographical origin, have the possibility of accessing higher education and thus have greater opportunities for personal and professional development.
The Secretary of Education of Huila reported that it contracted the School Food Program (PAE) from November 1, 2022 to cover what was missing from last year and also for the year 2023 until August 8.
Initially, a value of 69,074,239,200 million pesos was established for the contracts that would operate in the five zones into which the department is divided, covering from November 1, 2022 to May 29, 2023.
Due to the change in validity, it was necessary to carry out a price readjustment to guarantee the economic balance of the contract and adjust the prices of the rations corresponding to the year 2023. This readjustment had a value of 2,910,682,104 million pesos and the operation was extended until on June 9 of this year due to the non-execution of 100% of what was initially contracted.
Financial information by zone November 2022 – August 8, 2023 – Huila.
Additionally, an adjustment in time and value was carried out for an amount of $17,371,639,800 million, which guarantees the operation of the PAE until August 8 of this year.
However, to ensure the provision of the school feeding service from August 9 to the last day of the 2023 school calendar, it is necessary to have new resources of approximately 49,943,464,425 million pesos.
The Secretary of Education of Huila confirmed the visit of the deputy director of the UAPA, Juan David Vélez Bolívar, to discuss these issues on June 27. These needs have been expressed to the National Government official, who has highlighted the good performance of PAE Huila in terms of coverage and compliance with the quality parameters of the food served to children from the 35 municipalities not certified in education. managed by the Departmental Government.
The Secretary of Education of Huila confirmed the visit of the deputy director of the UAPA, Juan David Vélez Bolívar, this June 27