Cartel monopolises NCDC tenders



. . . conflict of interest pervades vice grip on centre



MASERU – Full-time employees at the National Career Development Centre (NCDC) also work for foreign private companies that do business with the centre, Public Eye can reveal.

The employees’ relationship with private entities, Public Eye was reliably informed, has helped establish a cartel which is monopolising NCDC multi-million Maloti tenders.

NCDC is an agency under of the ministry of education and training which was established in 1980 to “ensure the provision of quality and relevant education to the people of Lesotho”, according to information on its website.

“This was to be met by providing a curriculum that would respond to the needs of the children in schools as well as the nation at large.”

NCDC was established after it had been realised that the temporary institution – Primary Curriculum Unit which later became Primary Curriculum Research Unit – established in 1974 curricula research, could not do so effectively unless it was transformed into a permanent institution.

After it has developed new educational curricula for different grades, NCDC invites bids for writing, development, printing supply and delivery of textbooks and teachers’ guides and other written materials concerning curriculum.

The invitation for bids notice always specifies that “bidding will be conducted through the national competitive procedures as specified in the Government of Lesotho Public Procurement regulations of 2007”.


However, this publication has established that companies that are always picked to write textbooks, have contracted NCDC employees as authors.

This means the publishers effectively become just middlemen between NCDC and its own employees, therefore NCDC pays the publishers to do the job which is eventually done by NCDC employees.

NCDC director, Sekhotsang Adam, acknowledged in an interview with Public Eye this week that some of the employees were contracted by private businesses doing business with the centre but said such employees had declared a conflict of interest and were therefore not part of the tendering process to procure textbooks.

“There is a declaration of conflict form which the employees fill in. When you have declared your status, you are sanctioned and cannot be part of the tender process,” Adam said.

She insisted that although some NCDC employees were contracted by private publishers doing business with the centre, awarding of tenders to the publishers remains above board.

“The policy of the ministry of education and training is that we buy books from publishers and not from authors. We do not buy textbooks from the shelves because we need books which meet all our specifications,” Adam said.

“The publishers work with their authors and how they get such authors and the terms of their contracts remains unknown to NCDC.

“However, we know that some workers here are such authors, in their personal capacities,” she added.

Adam also explained that the centre’s employees who are authors were not allowed to be part of a team that evaluates textbooks.

“We have a monitoring and evaluation department, people working in this department are not allowed to be authors. And also, the team that evaluates the textbooks includes people from ECOL (Examination Council of Lesotho), LGE (Lesotho College of Education) and NUL (National University of Lesotho) assigned by the Ministry of Education

“The team includes workers from our procurement and accounts departments but these are not authors. This means the authors do not influence the process and do not decide which textbook should be approved and which publisher should be awarded the job,” she said.

Asked why NCDC had decided to hire outside parties to perform services while it has skilled workers who can perform such services in-house, she explained that the ministry of education previously produced its textbooks until the government decided to privatize some services in the 1990s.

In 1995, government decided to offload some of its enterprises to the public whom it deemed capable of running them in a profit-oriented manner through efficient management.

The Privatization Act of 1995 was enacted.

“Now it is even more expensive to outsource textbooks and I have made a request to the ministry that we should go back to producing our own books. Textbooks are very expensive and that is one of the reasons many schools across the country do not books,” Adam said.

Privatisation was meant to benefit local companies.

Public Eye has established that local publishers have probably never won a tender to write, print and supply textbooks to NCDC.

Instead, the tenders are always won by foreign publishers which employ NCDC workers as authors.

Adam explained that local publishers were not awarded tenders because they did not meet requirements.

“They do not meet requirements. The Minister of Education is also worried that local companies do not benefit from this process and has asked that we look for ways to make it easy for locals to compete,” she said.

She also indicated that the foreign publishers were little more than a letterbox with no actual presence in Lesotho.

“They just have small offices just so that they are able to tender,” she said. Ministry of education’s Principal Secretary (PS) for basic education, Dr Dira Khama, also acknowledged that some of the NCDC workers were contracted by businesses which do business with the centre.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) I visited NCDC and one of the issues I raised is this one,” Dr Khama said.

“I am a former teacher, we also used to write but we wrote for NCDC, not private publishers. The NCDC workers are skilled authors; they can lead teams of teachers, write those textbooks and be paid honorarium,” he added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *