PETALING JAYA: Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari has claimed that the education ministry’s response to his query on the lack of open tender for two imported English language textbooks has raised more questions than answers.
The DAP’s parliamentary spokesman for education, science and technology said the explanation that the books, which are aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), are difficult to procure was an excuse to justify not having an open tender.
He said all publishers, both foreign and local, can be invited to participate in such an exercise.
“Even if CEFR alignment is a requirement, I am certain that there are many other textbook publishers out there who can meet the criteria,” he said in a statement today.
In a written reply to Zairil in the Dewan Rakyat, Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan said the books titled Superminds 1 and Pulse 2 for use by standard 1 and form 1 students in 2017 were purchased following an evaluation process by English language experts appointed by an evaluation panel.
“The education ministry views that the CEFR-aligned books are still hard to obtain in the local market,” he said.
He added that the books were selected from titles proposed by a consultant.
“Although the prices of the books are slightly high compared to local books, they are still cheaper if compared to the actual prices they are sold at in the open market,” he said, adding that they had been purchased with allocation from the ministry.
Zairil today asked who were the “English language experts” that approved the foreign textbooks.
“Also, who makes up the ‘evaluation panel’ that selected these experts?” he said.
“Secondly, did these experts even vet through the contents properly? If they did, does that mean that they approve of not only the totally foreign references contained in the books, but even the exercise questions that require basic knowledge of Spanish?” he added.
Kamalanathan had also said because the books were published overseas they may have foreign elements in them, but their contents were compatible with the CEFR standard in accordance with the students’ study level.
On Nov 23, Zairil questioned the hasty introduction of imported English language textbooks by the education ministry, saying the use of such books should be reconsidered.
“Superminds 1” is published by Cambridge University Press for primary school pupils, and “Pulse 2” by Macmillan for secondary school students.