Having a physical environment that is conducive to learning is a necessary component of any education system. In government funded schools, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to ensure that the physical and other related infrastructure in these schools meet at least a minimum acceptable standard.
Sadly, despite the billions of ringgit poured into building physical and other related infrastructure, the returns on this investment have been very poor due to wastage, leakages and corruption. Without identifying where and how these wastages occurred, we have little confidence that the ambitious targets to upgrade the physical infrastructure in schools, as outlined by the National Education Blueprint (NEB) 2013 to 2015, will succeed where past plans have failed.
The most damning evidence of the failure of the MoE to deliver effective and accountable physical and other related improvements in our schools comes from Exhibit 6-11 in the NEB.
Despite spending almost RM20b of the RM40b allocated to education in the 9th Malaysia Plan on physical and other infrastructure improvements, the delivered outcomes were shockingly poor. (See Table 1 below)
Table 1: Physical Infrastructure Improvement Results 2005 to 2011
For example, despite the almost RM16.0b spent on physical infrastructure development, the number of schools without access to clean water was decreased by only 85. Despite the RM2.8b spent on IT infrastructure, the number of schools without computer labs was reduced by only 68. What is more worrying is the statistic that the number of schools without adequate science labs has actually INCREASED by 336!
At the same time, according to the World Bank Public Expenditure Report 2011 (Exhibit 6-8 in the NEB), there has been a consistent trend of overspending by the MoE in its operating budget, peaking at 10.7% (or approximately RM2 billion) in 2010.
Without a comprehensive review of overspending and wastage by the MoE in the past and without a comprehensive review of the manner in which projects are contracted out, there is little chance that the nice sounding KPIs outlined in the NEB will be delivered. This is one of the reasons why the Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce (PET) is asking the MoE to make available to the public the World Bank Public Expenditure Report 2011 as well as the UNESCO Report, Tan Sri Prof Dato’ Dzukifli Abdul Razak’s Malaysia Review Panel report and the International Review Panel’s report.
Dr. Ong Kian Ming
DAP Elections Strategist
14th September, 2012