Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin needs to explain why he approved a RM27 million program to train 1000 teachers in PE

I received a written reply from the Minister of Education yesterday, 26th June 2013, regarding the total cost of diploma program to train Physical Education teachers that was being carried out by the United States Sports Academy (USSA). The reply I received contained very disturbing details which require explanation on the part of the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Firstly, the Minister needs to explain whether there was any conflict of interesting in awarding this contract to KH Sports World Sdn Bhd, which is the agent for the United States Sports Academy, via direct negotiation. KH Sports World Sdn Bhd is a company which sells sports equipment and its Chairwoman, Hisham Suhaili Othman[1], is also the Deputy Chief of Puteri UMNO in Kedah and the Head of the Puteri UMNO division in Langkawi.

Secondly, the Minister needs to explain whether the decision to renew the contract for this program for a second year in 2013 had anything to do with the fact that he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the United States Sports Academy (USSA) in January 2013.[2]

Thirdly, the Minister needs to explain the decision to appoint a US based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively via distance and online learning[3]. Such a college would certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs, especially for the 1000 teachers who were supposed to enrol in this program. For comparison, the estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600![4]

Fourthly, the Minister needs to explain the need to spend RM27million to train 1000 teachers which works out to RM27,000 for a six month ‘diploma’ when a Diploma in Sports in Sports Education from UiTM only costs RM6,000 for 2 ½ years?[5]

Fifthly, and most importantly, the Minister needs to clarify if this program does indeed award a diploma level qualification to all participants since a circular from the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) dated 30th December 2011 states that the ‘International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports is equivalent to the Certificate (Level 3) in the Malaysian Qualifications Framework’. According to the Malaysian Qualifications Framework, a Level 3 Certificate is one level below a Diploma which means that the quality and comprehensiveness of the program is not the same as that of a diploma and that teachers who undergo this training will not be compensated as if he or she holds a diploma.[6] If this is true, then the Ministry of Education is guilty of misleading the teachers who are recruited to undergo this program and also the Malaysian taxpayer by portraying this program as a Diploma when it is actually just a certificate level course! It also means that the Ministry would have spent over RM50million of taxpayer’s funds over the course of 2 years to train 2000 teachers so that they could have a certificate level qualification! This would definitely not be consistent with the Minister’s reply that this program will enable the Ministry ‘to have 2000 teachers which have qualifications and skills in Physical Education and Sports Training to help make the 1Student1Sport policy a success’.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming MP for Serdang