by the mad maddaya Professor, Donplaypuks® intrepid correspondent for ejjucayshun
Soon after Najib Tun Razak was appointed Prime Minister in 2009, he announced an initial budget allocation of $105 million for the setting of childcare centres under Permata. Surprise, surprise, the Permata Program Implementation Council is chaired by Najib himself. And surprise, surprise again, the Permata Program Monitoring Working Committee is headed by none other than his beloved wife, Rosmah Mansor. Within a year there was a request for an additional $20 million by Permata.
The Permata national development program for early childhood education and care was, apparently, the brainchild of none other than Rosmah Mansor, the PM's wife.
According to the Edge, http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/highlights/229968-pm-defends-wifes-permata.html, there were further budget allocations of $100 million and $110 million in 2010 and 2011 respectively. In 2012, budget allocations for Permata were included in the $1.2 billion provision for pre-school programmes.
The entire program, at what point exactly and why, we don't know, came under the purview of the Ministry of Education, though it is still chaired by Najib and "monitored" by Rosmah Mansor. According to Permata's website at http://www.permata.jpm.my/ 608 students from 56 Permata centres were due to "Konvo" (whatever that means) in 2012.
So, we have at the very least, $300 million of Taxpayers' money allocated and spent on one of Rosmah Mansor's pet projects.
In a country where success is often measured by the size of the budget and by how much it's over-spent, we, the Citizens, are entitled to ask:
1. What exactly are Permata's aims? The country has been awash with kindergartens in most States, for the last 30 years. Besides targeting those below a certain a low income threshold, how will Permata be different? Why for example, is Permata targeting 4-year olds? Is there some internationally accepted study by early-education experts which pinpoints this age group as the magical figure which has the greatest potential for long-term development, for say, producing Einsteins and Hawkings?
Despite many countries in South East Asia laying claim to having a superior education system which produces maths "prodigies" and PhD's by the thousands, none has yet, over the last 50 years, produced a Nobel Prize Winner, let alone a "world expert" of any real repute! So, how will Permata have a leading edge to justify a huge whack on our wallets?
2. Who sets the standards for the curricula, evaluations and examinations by which the quality of Permata's "graduates" are judged, and how does it compare with say their counterparts, if any, in USA, UK, Sweden, Japan? Was any study done at all?
3. What exactly has this over $300 million of Taxpayer's money been spent on? Were there open tenders for the construction of new Permata centres, and for other relevant capital expenditure? Has there been any audit, say by the Auditor General, and if so, what are his findings? In the wake of the $250 million Cowgate financial disaster, the Citizens should not be blamed for being wary, especially where the handling of the money part of Permata comes under the responsibility of Prime Ministers and their wives.
Our early warning system in-built antennas should be tingling in dread with PM Najib's ping today that his dear wife Rosmah Mansor be "given the job to set up more childcare centres in light of increased female participation in the workforce." Of course, Najib thinks he's being clever with his "pre-emptive" strike against faceless luddites, Communists and the "Opposition" with his "Forget (the fact that it’s my) wife that’s involved. But we know the opposition would belittle the idea if Permata is involved. The opposition, they are not constructive. They only know how to belittle everything." Refer http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-expects-opposition-attack-as-permata-gets-new-project
Is it a mere suggestion by PM Najib, or is it as it seems to be, a clear imperial fiat, which means 'Fuck Off Minister for Education, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance!" Is it a done deal already?
Why is the Ministry of Education being by-passed? In Malaysia we now have the States, over-Federalism and then, Najibonomics and Rosemajibism. Why should PM Najib ask us to cough up hundreds of millions more of dollars just before elections are due and Parliament dissolved, when we have not been presented with a report on Permata and what it has effectively achived to-date? Where is the cost vs benefit audit report?
We have much to fear that more groundwork is being laid for fiscal imprudence and spending of the order of $billions, without proper research and study, transparency or accountability.
Frankly, if I had my way, I would do away with all this early-education madness and kindergartens. The last kid in Malaysia who had a normal and happy childhood without suffering from the trauma of the likes of kindergartenism and Permata, was probably born circa 1980.
Donplaypuks® with education and children, man!