In 2012, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam implemented the Compulsory Religious Education Order, emphasising the importance of Islamic knowledge in young students as religious knowledge serves as a foundation to uphold the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). Under this order, it is compulsory for Muslim children aged seven to 15 to attend religious school.
There are 159 religious schools in Brunei, from pre-school to primary level. Religious education is provided at three private schools: Jerudong International School, Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School and International School Brunei.
Arabic and religious schools in Brunei are different from other educational institutions. These schools are under the leadership of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, collaborating with the Ministry of Education to develop a suitable curriculum.
Arabic schools in Brunei offer two core curriculums: the national curriculum for general subjects and the Ma’had Buhuth al-Islamiah curriculum from Egypt for religious subjects and Arabic language. These curriculums are based on the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21) to produce students equipped with skills in line with the 21st Century.
There are seven Arabic schools in Brunei: four in Brunei-Muara and one each in Belait, Tutong and Temburong. Religious schools start from pre-school. Education in Arabic schools begins in Year Five and is offered until pre-university level for male students and Year 11 for female students.
The recently built Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Girls Arabic Religious Secondary School can accommodate 1,800 students and 150 staff members. The institution is equipped with 72 classrooms, 12 science laboratories, and five computer rooms. Its main feature is a circular building with a dome featuring a fivestar skylight as its centrepiece.
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