Head of department Dr Vusumuzi Nzama explained that the initial budget for the programme was R20-million.
"The original plan was to limit it to four months providing only 520‚000 learners but later on we had to increase the budget to R109-million to provide for 900‚000 for 12 months‚" he said.
Nzama said the tender was a national open tender for all provinces to use.
"As the province we never advertised any tenders for this programme. I don't even know the company appointed by national department‚" he said.
Following Nzama's explanation‚ Dlungwana said he was assured that the tender process and budget allocation were above board. However‚ he had to test the allegations made against the department.
He said the programme aimed at providing sanitary pads to 88% of the schools in the province where some pupils missed on average four days every month as their parents could not afford feminine hygiene products.
"It is upsetting to be asked if it is our core function to do so. Why are we providing nutrition for our learners? Are you saying that we should only focus on teaching and learning?
"Some of these issues impact negatively on teaching and learning. Our responsibility is to provide so that learners are in a position to be in class."