Musa Mohamad should adopt a policy of full
transparency for the RM5 billion seven-year programme to teach maths and
science in English giving details of breakdown of expenditures and the
successful suppliers/contractors and how the Education Ministry could
grossly overspend with allocation of RM3.29 billion for this purpose next
by Lim Kit Siang
Saturday): The Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister,
Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced in his 2003 Budget presented to
Parliament on 20th September a RM5 billion allocation to implement the
teaching of Science and Mathematics in English in schools for a period of
seven years from 2002 to 2008. For this year and in 2003, a sum of RM978.7
million will be spent from this RM5 billion programme.
A large portion of this allocation is for training of teachers, providing a
launching grant for schools as well as teaching and educational aids, apart
from basic facilities and physical infrastructure, including ICT.
Mahathir said that to ensure that the teaching of Science and Mathematics in
English will be implemented effectively, teachers will be supplied with
notebook computers, LCD projectors and other related equipment.
There is national consensus on the urgent need to raise English proficiency
in schools and universities and reverse the drastic fall from the high
standards of English fluency of Malaysians a quarter of a century ago, but
there is continuing controversy whether the use of English to teach
Mathematics and Science from Std. One in primary schools in our present
national education system is an educationally-sound proposition and good for
our children and can really help them to raise their proficiency in
Mathematics, Science and English and prepare them to face the new challenges
of international competitiveness in the era of globalization.
As a result, national attention has been distracted and virtually sidelined
from the RM5 billion programme to use ICT to teach Mathematics and Science
in English, which is most important in least three aspects:
The role and effectiveness of ICT
in student learning, particularly to teach Mathematics and Science in
English in Std. One, where it is the second language in national schools and
third language in Chinese and Tamil primary schools;
The appropriateness of the RM5
billion allocated for the programme for the seven years from 2002 to 2008 -
whether too much or too little;
The effectiveness, transparency
and accountability of the actual expenditures of the RM5 billion allocation.
Worldwide, there are more and more
studies which show that the results of the effective use of technology in
education are very mixed, with teeming examples in many developed countries
where vast investments in buying computers and ICT for the classroom have
proved largely ineffective in enhancing student learning.
Is the Ministry of Education, with its RM5 billion ICT programme to teach
Mathematics and Science in English, fully aware of these pitfalls and fully
prepared to avoid the mistakes made by other countries in their experience
with technology in education - which in the case of United States, has a
history of more than two decades?
My immediate concern, however, is the announcement by the Director-General
of Education, Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat that the Education Ministry had
allocated RM3.29 billion next year or about one-third of the total Education
Ministry's 2003 budget for primary and secondary schools to implement the
teaching of Mathematics and Science in English as proof of its commitment to
make a success of this programme. (Berita Harian/Sin Chew Daily)
The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should explain how the
Education Ministry could grossly overspend in this programme by allocating
RM3.29 billion next year to teach Mathematics and Science in English, when
Mahathir said in his 2003 Budget Speech in Parliament that a total of RM5
billion would be spent on this programme in the seven years from 2002 to
2008 and that a sum of RM878.7 million would be spent this year and in 2003?
According to Mahathir, some 20% of the RM5 billion programme would be spent
this year and next, leaving the balance of 80% of the RM5 billion programme
to be expended in the five years from 2004-2008 when more and more primary
and secondary forms come on-stream in the annual expansion of the programme
until its full implementation in all primary and secondary schools in 2008.
But going by Abdul Rafie's revelation, the allocation of RM3.29 billion next
year would mean that 64% of the RM5 billion programme would be spent just
next year alone, which must mean that the RM5 billion allocated for the ICT
programme to fully implement the teaching of mathematics and science in
English in all primary and secondary schools by 2008 would be grossly
inadequate and that its final costs would spiral steeply and might total
three or four times its present estimate - i.e. RM15 billion to RM20
This then raises the other equally important question of accountability,
transparency and integrity of the vast sums of public expenditures in the
multi-billion ringgit ICT programme to teach Mathematics and Science in
English as a 10 per cent waste in a RM5 billion programme whether because of
incompetence or corruption would cost the taxpayers RM500 million.
If the RM5 billion ICT programme to teach Mathematics and Science in English
suffers a 10 per cent loss from gross inefficiency and another 10% loss from
corruption, the taxpayers stand to lose RM1 billion - a loss which would
reach even more astronomical terms if the total cost of the ICT programme
eventually increases three or four-fold!
DAP therefore calls on Musa Mohamad to adopt a policy of full accountability
and transparency for the currently-slated RM5 billion programme, not only
explaining how his Ministry could grossly overspend by allocating RM3.2
billion next year, but also make public the detailed breakdown of various
expenditures and the successful suppliers/contractors as well as submitting
a specific annual report to Parliament on the progress and effectiveness of
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National