Consultants milked millions from BN-era education ministry, says ex-top man

PETALING JAYA: A former Education Ministry official has urged the government to revamp a unit within the ministry allegedly responsible for wasting millions of ringgit under the previous administration.

The call and the accusation came from Raja Nazim Nazuddin, who once served as chief financial officer of the allegedly errant unit, the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (Padu).

Padu was set up in 2013 to drive and monitor the performance of initiatives under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, developed by a renowned consulting firm.

“From the very beginning, Padu was doomed to fail because it was led by people with no experience in the transformation of an education system, and these are the people expected to give direction to the education ministry staff,” he told FMT.

He said the blueprint itself cost RM20 million and it proposed 100 initiatives, which Padu, realising they were impossible to achieve, later scaled down to 55 and subsequently to about only 20 priority initiatives.

However, he added, the ministry decided to engage the same consulting firm again to “hold their hands” in the building of capacity and competency within the ministry for the implementation of the blueprint.

“This cost another RM20 million, with monthly time costs ranging from RM245,000 to RM640,000 per consultant. No one in the ministry or Padu monitored the time actually spent by these consultants on the project.”

Nazim also said the ministry failed to identify personnel with the appropriate competence and commitment to receive the so-called knowledge transfer from the consultants.

He said a certain Padu official had proposed that the same consulting firm be engaged again at a cost of up to RM28 million “for what it failed to deliver in the handholding project” and in spite of not having sufficient funds for it.

But this idea was shot down, he added.

He accused the ministry of also wasting public funds in the engagement of another consulting firm for RM600,000 to carry out a comprehensive review of the education system.

“The firm had no record of undertaking such an exercise. The consultant from the firm seconded to the education ministry was also paid a monthly allowance meant for senior civil servants on top of the RM600,000.”

Giving another example of wastage, he spoke of the recruitment of 75 people into Padu although the Public Service Department had approved only 22 positions.

“These are just some of the many lapses and instances of wastage and abuse of power the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will find if it is willing to do some digging,” he said.

FMT is attempting to obtain a comment from the Education Ministry.