We call on the Government to improve the
management of the massive allocations for education to avoid wanton waste
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw
As Chairman of the National Education Review Committee Dato’ Seri Dr
Mahathir Mohamad must look into the financial management of education in all
Part of the speech by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP
for Kepong during the seminar on National Education Review Committee at the
Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur, on 18.1.2003.
As far as we know, this is the first seminar on the National Education
Review Committee headed by the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad
as proposed by the UMNO Supreme Council. We believe that he would need a
Royal Commission instead of a Review Committee and a longer duration than
until he retires in October this year.
Malaysia requires at least 35 public universities of international standard
and a change of attitude from the Education Ministry to schools and
Then, we have to choose suitable languages in the universities. After
learning Bahasa Malaysia (BM) and mother-tongue from Primary One until Form
V, students should be proficient in BM and mother-tongue. (We must have good
language teachers.) Our universities should use more English, the most
popular language in the world.
We must make sure that there is no terrorism in the universities. We must
look at the laws and the measures to weed out terrorists and other types of
extremists. We must review the Universities and University Colleges Act to
create an atmosphere that makes it possible for students to learn to think
and to pursue knowledge in the furtherance of society.
Today, we talk about expenditure in education.
EXPENDITURE (RM Million)
Primary & Secondary
The national budget allocates about 24% for education. In 2002, the
allocation was RM20.79 billion and the total budget RM100.5 billion. In
2003, the total budget is RM109.801 billion, and RM26.269 billion is for
Although the 10-year Education Development Blueprint mentions that in 2001,
the programmes on higher education received RM75.7 million, in 2002, it was
RM20.49 million. This is for formulating policy and managing as well as
coordinating all activities in higher education.
In 2002 and 2003, the total allocations for public universities are RM3.986
billion and RM5.916 billion respectively. The amount for drawing up policy,
managing and coordinating activities may be RM20 million. But, allocations
for implementation are huge. In 2002, the operating expenditure was RM2.889
billion and the development expenditure was RMRM1.167 billion. In 2003, the
operating and the development expenditures are RM3.002 billion and RM2.914
While it is correct to allocate 24% of the national budget to education, we
must scrutinize expenditure closely, so that over RM26 billion is used
efficiently. The Ministry has not shown sufficient transparency and
accountability on this aspect.
For example, this year we have RM4.5 billion and RM4.3 billion for primary
and secondary education respectively. Some of the money are used for
teaching Mathematics and Science in English, which is being introduced in
Primary One, Form One and Lower Sixth. Teachers went to Langkawi to be
trained for a few weeks to switch from BM, Mandarin or Tamil to English in
the teaching of Maths and Science. How successful are these courses? How
much have been claimed by these teachers for various expenses and
How does the Ministry appoint suppliers of teaching equipment, computers,
textbooks and workbooks for English Maths and Science? Although the trolleys
that contain teaching equipment look impressive, are they practicable? What
are the measures to eradicate irregularities? Are they value for money?
Let us look at the original and final (in brackets) estimates for primary
education, secondary education and teachers’ education for 2002. Primary,
secondary and teachers’ education were RM4.29 billion (RM4.43 billion),
RM4.02 billion (RM4.20 billion) and RM343.38 million (RM461.42 million)
respectively. The difference between the original and the final estimates is
between RM118 million and RM180 million.
Similarly, for the same year, the difference in the total allocation for
residential schools, which is virtually mono-ethnic, was RM74.20 million
(RM749.07 million minus RM674.87 million).
True, estimates cannot be exact. But, the difference is big. The Ministry
must be more transparent and accountable, letting us know what actually
The 1996 Education Act aims to make Malaysian education world-class and the
Prime Minister and his ministers stress the centre of excellence for
education. To achieve the objective, we must make the best use of the
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP
National Vice Chairman & MP for Kepong