PETALING JAYA: Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari has continued to question the education ministry’s purchase of imported English textbooks, asking why this was not done through open tender.
Zairil, who is DAP’s parliamentary spokesperson for education, science and technology, said the imported textbooks appeared to have been purchased through direct negotiation with local publishers Pan Asia Publications and Desa Fikir.
This was in contrast to local textbooks, which were subject to competitive open tenders, he added.
“The education ministry owes the Malaysian public an explanation as to why it decided to replace the local textbooks with ‘imported’ ones at such short notice and without a proper tender procedure,” he said in a statement today.
This is not the first time Zairil has spoken on the issue. On Thursday, he raised concerns over the cost of the new textbooks and their strong British context which he said Malaysian students might struggle to relate to.
He reiterated his concerns, pointing out that the existing Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) and Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM) textbooks, which were approved through open tender, were done so at the cost of RM9.20 and RM7.50 a copy, respectively.
“This amounts to about RM7.1 million based on current student enrolment figures, which is a stark difference compared to the ‘imported’ textbooks,” he said.
According to Zairil, the total cost of providing the new textbooks for each student amounts to RM33 million.
Asking why the ministry had decided to use the new textbooks less than a year after the local books were approved and purchased, Zairil said it had also purchased the new books without their accompanying digital content.
“Almost every page in the textbooks contain instructions and references to audio content which has been removed from the local versions,” he said.
“While efforts to improve English proficiency among our students and teachers must be supported, it does not mean that the education ministry can do whatever it likes, and worse, risk the future of our children through irresponsible experimenting and ill-advised policy decisions.”