The National Permata programme (Permata) will now be called Genius as it is set to undergo a rebranding process, according to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.
He said the Cabinet had decided on rebranding the child development programme to make it more competitive and highly motivated.
“Even though its role and functions remain the same, several programmes within it will be enhanced in terms of quality,” Dr Maszlee said.
A programme for early childhood education in Malaysia stated nearly a decade ago, Permata was the brainchild of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
However, the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration had claimed that Rosmah was not involved in Permata’s day-to-day operations.
In 2015, then minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said as patron of the programme, Rosmah does not handle any administrative, financial or managerial matters, as well as other functions that come under the purview of the civil service.
Soon after the May 2018 general election, Rosmah expressed hope that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would continue with the Permata programme as it was close to her heart.
“I would like to see Permata carry on, but I leave it to the present government. Whatever they deem fit.
“But, I want to apologise to the parents and children that these things happened. I hope they are able to take it as well because I am close to all of them,” she had said then.
Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail later said the government would not pull the plug on the programme.
However, she said it would be audited and reviewed first.
“We – the Harapan government and Prime Minister – have said what is good will continue.
“We will have to audit and review it, including the allocation, cost-effectiveness and results,” she added.
Wan Azizah is also the women, family and community development minister.