The Ministry of Education (MoE), as the co-champion of the Education Strategy under Brunei Vision 2035, has been working closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), relevant agencies and stakeholders in developing and implementing key initiatives.
1. Investing in early childhood education.
2. Adopting international best practices in teaching and learning.
3. Having first class secondary and tertiary education including vocational schools that produce experts, professionals and technicians required in commerce and industry.
4.Strengthening the competency in info-communi- cations technology (ICT) for students, teachers and educational administrators including the integration of ICT in the school curriculum.
5. Devising programmes that promote life-long learning and widening access to higher education.
6. Promoting research, development and innovation both in government-funded institutions and through public-private and international partnerships.
7. Adopting cost-effective methods of educating our people through the use of technology.
8. Improving the management of all our educational institutions.
Within the Education Strategy, there are several areas that the MoE is focusing on as targets to be achieved under the Brunei Vision 2035.
These areas are the quality of teachers, quality of school leaders, students’ achievements in education, students’ enrolment to post-secondary and graduation rate for Higher Education and Technical Vocational Education.
The Programme for International Student Assesment (PISA) is an international assessment for 15-year-old students conducted since 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It aims to explore the extent to which students at the end of compulsory education can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. PISA takes place in three-year cycles and to date, more than 70 economies worldwide have partici- pated in the assessment.
MoE has identified PISA as one of the tools to meas- ure the performance of students in Brunei over time in comparison with their counterparts in other countries and economies.
Three main domains are examined by PISA, which are Reading Literacy, Science Literacy and Mathematical Literacy. The major domain changes with each cycle. In 2006, PISA had Science Literacy as the major domain, while Reading Literacy became the major domain in PISA 2009, Mathematics Literacy in PISA 2012 and Science Literacy in PISA 2015.
The country’s inaugural participation in PISA will be in the next assessment in 2018, where Reading Literacy will be the major domain. Literacy is defined as the ability to read, speak and listen in a way that allows you to communicate effectively. The power of literacy lies not just in possessing these three abil- ities but rather their capacity to apply these skills to effectively connect, interpret and discern the intricacies of the world in which they live especially in the globalised world today where communication has become an important commodity.
Recognising PISA’s standing as an international standard, the participation of the country’s 15-year- old students in PISA will help Brunei establish a benchmark for quality in its literacy and numeracy programme; establish a standard way to measure the impact of programme and project; and measure capacity and improvements in the needs of the peo- ple and system.
The Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Programme (LNCP) is a new and innovative approach that will transform the teaching of literacy and numeracy across all schools in Brunei.
The implementation stage for this programme started on January 3, 2017. The programme was developed collaboratively by MoE with the Education Development Trust (EDT).
The three main goals of this project are to provide:
(i) High-quality English and Mathematics Teaching by employing pedagogical best-practices effec- tively, continually improving and reflecting on their practice.
(ii) All students in primary and secondary schools will be highly numerate and literate in English.
(iii) A system empowered to deliver sustained improvements in literacy and numeracy.
Between January 2017 and June 2019, a total of 60 International Coaches are to be deployed to 149 primary and secondary schools, including six schools under MoRA.
International coaches are skilled classroom practi- tioners, either with experience teaching in Brunei or from a high performing PISA Country. These international coaches will work directly with iden- tified teachers who assume the role of either Local Coaches (LCs) or learning partners by using a 1:1 coaching approach, modelling, lesson observation, giving feedback, shadowing and team teaching.
LCs are identified as teachers having good class practice with the potential to be developed to take the place of the international coaches in 2019. These LCs represent some of the best teachers across Brunei, possessing strengths and leader- ship qualities to support the professional growth of teaching and content expertise in literacy and numeracy teachers in schools.
By year 2020, the ministry aims to have a literacy and numeracy local coach in every school across the country. Through this programme, it will identify and support the development of 120 expert LCs.
The LCs will undergo four phases of professional development conducted by the Brunei Darussalam Teacher Academy (BDTA) and the Literacy and Numeracy Experts (EDT). The phases for profes- sional development are the Coaching Preparatory Programme (CPP), Accredited Training, Specialist Training and Expert Training.
The first cohort of 29 LCs received their certificates as accredited literacy and numeracy coaches on August 21, 2017 and the second cohort received their accreditation on November 1, 2017.
In achieving Brunei Vision 2035, eight educational strategies have been formulated by MoE. Among the eight strategies, two are related to Information Communications and Technology (ICT). These are strengthening competency in ICT for all students, teachers and administrative education including integration of ICT in learning and teaching, and the adaptation of education approaches that are cost effective through the use of technology.
Under the 11th National Development Plan (2018 – 2022), MoE through the Department of Information Communication Technology has identified two initi- atives in support of these strategies.
First is the Government School Network Infra- structure Upgrade, through which the ministry hopes to provide a world-class robust ICT network that allows government schools to have a reliable and seamless access to IT systems, educational digital resources, e-Government and Internet services.
Additionally, the upgrade of the government school network infrastructure will also increase the level of quality, stability and security of the network to support the schools operational and organisational practices.
Second is the National Education Management System – an expansion of the existing Integrated National Education Information System (iNEIS) – which aims to provide a centralised education information system. This system will further facilitate and enhance the effectiveness of the departments and schools’ internal work processes and productivity.
The government is constantly concerned about the welfare and care of children, and is fully committed to ensure that all children have access to education.
Various programmes and initiatives have been devel- oped and implemented by the MoE, through its Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit.
Currently, the ministry is developing the ECCE National Quality Policy and Framework for ECCE which aims to provide standards that can effectively control the qual- ity of early childhood care and the education system in Brunei.
Continuous professional development for preschool teachers are regularly conducted by the ECCE Unit to strengthen the competency and professionalism of teachers at government and private preschool levels, as well as to provide preschool teachers with hands-on exposure on best practices and to keep abreast with the latest preschool pedagogy, curriculum and classroom management.
In past years, the ECCE Unit initiated the Volunteer Preschool Assistant Teachers Programme to assist pre- school teachers manage classroom tasks and routines.
The ECCE Unit also introduced the School and Family Engagement (SAFE) Programme, consisting of three sub-programmes: ‘Program Bacalah Alaiku’, ‘Program Bisai Mini’ and ‘Sehari Bersama Keluarga (showcase)’.
￼hese programmes aim to improve the quality of children’s learning in preschools and promote pre- school teachers’ understanding on the importance of parental involvement at preschool level as well as strengthening mutual ties between the school and parents.
It is important to ensure teaching and learning practices are based on the principles of inclusive education. To achieve this, MoE through the Special Education Unit has continuously organised continu- ous professional development such as conferences, seminars, workshops and sharing sessions relating to special/inclusive education for teachers and parents.
These on-going professional programmes will help expand teachers’ and parents’ knowledge and skill- set. In turn, teachers will have the competencies, understanding, knowledge and skills to facilitate the development and implementation of inclusive education.
The Special Education Unit continues to raise awareness on children with special needs through their motto “every child is a gift”, facilitated by numerous road shows held in government secondary schools throughout the four districts. It has helped draw public attention on the importance of caring for the child as well as to emphasise social inclu- sionandeducationofstudentswithspecialneedsat home, schools and within the community.
The Government Scholarship Scheme is offered to citizens who have fulfilled the scholarship criteria in pursuing undergraduate to graduate studies, either abroad or at a local Higher Education Institution (HEI).
In an effort to widen opportunities for Bruneian stu- dents to pursue tertiary education both in local and overseas institutions, the government also provides education loans to eligible students which cover living expenses and tuition fees.
The Education Loan Facility Scheme (SBPP) is pri- marily intended for students who do not qualify for the Government Scholarship Scheme and will allow eligible students to pursue higher education by attending a full-time bachelor’s degree programme at an HEI in areas that fall in line with industrial interests and national needs.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) offers a scholarship scheme for international stu- dents who wish to study in Brunei.
The Government of Brunei Darussalam Scholarship is open to citizens of, but not limited to, Asean, Commonwealth and OIC member countries.
Under the scholarship, applicants can apply for Diploma, Undergraduate and Postgraduate Master’s Degree programmes at any one of the four HEIs: Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB), Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Politeknik Brunei.
MoFAT, in collaboration with UBD, also offers the Brunei Darussalam Scholarship on Enhancing Professional Communication Skills for Asean, a two-programme scheme which provides 50 individuals from Asean member countries the opportunity to professionally develop their communication skills, particularly in English.
These programmes illustrate the collaborative effort of government institutions to forge and encourage international ties between Brunei and other coun- tries through Brunei’s higher education system.
In 2017, His Majesty consented to the establish- ment of a Higher Education Institutions Taskforce Committee under the purview of MoE.
Its membership comprises various relevant agencies both in the private and public sectors, with the pur- pose of identifying the direction of higher education in the country where programmes and areas of high value are explored to achieve the innovation econ- omy towards Brunei Vision 2035.
It is pertinent in ensuring programmes offered are cost-effective, balanced and the continuity of stu- dent-learning so graduates are marketable locally and internationally.
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