We call on the Government to improve the management of the massive allocations for education to avoid wanton waste

Press Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): As Chairman of the National Education Review Committee Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad must look into the financial management of education in all aspects.

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 universities.

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.


  2001 2002 revised 2003
Pre-school, Primary & Secondary 9.309,925 9.573,887 (10,395,640) 10.439,205
Pre-School 41.7339 37.75 (51.851) 46.491
Primary 4.313,979  4.291,882  (4.426,635) 4.557,835
Secondary 3.671,949  4.025,919  (4.204,133)  4.312,576
Residential Schools 160.464 162.145 (170.680)  168.015
Dormitories 555.669 512.717 (578.392) 575.060
Teachers’ Education 362.217 343.386 (461.421) 462.160

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 education.

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 billion respectively.


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 allowances?

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 happens.

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 allocations.


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice Chairman & MP for Kepong