The Malaysian Education Ministry is under fire after results from state school tests showed an overall decline in English standards despite recent massive spending on training from the British Council, the Brighton Education Group and the SMR HR Group.
“There is absolutely no justification for this type of expenditure,” says MP Zairil Khir Johari who is questioning what happened to the $84m investment.
Between 2011 and 2013 the Education Ministry gave some RM270m (about $84m or €62m or £52m) to 3 consultants to train local English language teachers in state schools, for between three and four hours a month.
Those consultants were the British Council, the Brighton Education Group, and the SMR HR Group. They were contracted to provide 360 English speaking mentors who over a period of 3 years would train some 7,500 Malaysian teachers from 1,800 schools nationwide.
However, testing showed that English ability of the students of these teachers fell whilst students studying in others schools without the benefit of this investment improved their scores.
MP Zairil Khir Johari said that the investment worked out to about RM36,00 per Malaysian teacher (about $11,000 or €8,000 or £7,000). Considering that a full degree in Malaysia costs around 65% of this amount those teachers could have received far more training and a higher qualification for much less.
“There is absolutely no justification for this type of expenditure,” Zairil said.
Whilst it’s hard use test scores in this way, it does seem a lot of money to spend on so little. As Zairil points out, that money could have been far better spent on providing more structured education for those teachers rather than just a few hours each month.