The Government has its own education experts and does not need to obtain advice from consultants at the price of RM20 million

Press Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming and Zairil Khir Johari on 26 September 2013, Kuala Lumpur 

We were very surprised to read the response by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin in reply to the disclosure that consulting company McKinsey & Co. were paid RM20 million to prepare the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (NEB).

According to media reports, the Minister was quoted as saying, “I believe it is a reasonable rate as we need assistance from experts in any effort that we make.”[1]

We certainly do not deny that the views, opinions and analysis from experts, especially education experts, are needed. However, we question why consultants who were not education specialists were appointed when the government has many experts who are able to perform the tasks required.

For example, the final report of the National Education Blueprint lists the contributions of local experts, including studies conducted by six public universities such as the University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Penguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) , National University of Malaysia (UKM) , Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT).

Moreover, the Ministry of Education had also obtained advice from international sources and experts such as UNESCO which had prepared a detailed report on curriculum development, information and communication technology in education, teacher education, technical and vocational training and education; and examination and assessment of students.

In addition, the World Bank also conducted a comprehensive review of public spending (Public Expenditure Review) including education sector spending in 2011. At the same time, the National Education Dialogue Panel under the leadership of Tan Sri Dato ‘ Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin also provided a report of the results of the townhall meetings that were held in 14 states.

PEMANDU has also implemented Education Labs with the support of the NKRA Education team. The Labs were led by local experts from the Ministry of Education, including from the Aminuddin Baki Institute.

In addition, the Malaysian Independent Review Panel was established under the leadership of Prof. Tan Sri Dato ‘ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak . An International Independent Review Panel was established and joined by experts like Dr. Andreas Schleicher (Head of Indicators and Analysis at OECD ) , Dr. Byong-Man Ahn (South Korea’s former Minister of Education), Professor Michael Fullan (Special Advisor to the Premier and Minister of Education for Ontaria, Canada) and Prof Lee Sing Kong (Director of the National Institute of Education, Singapore).

The availability of advice from these abovenamed experts is evidence that the Ministry already has education experts who are not only capable but of world-class standards. Why does the Ministry have to appoint McKinsey consultants at a cost of RM20 million? Is this “reasonable”?

Furthermore, the actual contribution of McKinsey – who are not experts in the field of education – is not clear because this information is not listed in the National Education Blueprint report. If McKinsey did not contribute in terms of input, was their role only limited to writing the report itself?

It appears clear that the services provided by the McKinsey consultants were not necessary, not only in terms of input but also in terms of preparing the report. This is because the Government has various departments and agencies of equal ability, such as the Education NKRA and NKEA team (PEMANDU), the Education Policy Planning and Research Division (EPRD) and the Education Implementation and Performance Unit (PADU) which was established in April 2012.

Does the Minister not have confidence in his own experts and officers to do their jobs?

Dr Ong Kian Ming

Member of Parliament for Serdang 

Zairil Khir Johari

Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera

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