In 2012, the Compulsory Religious Education Order was implemented, emphasising the importance of Islamic knowledge for young students. Under this order, it is compulsory for Muslim children aged seven to 15 to attend religious school.
There are more than 150 religious schools in Brunei Darussalam, from preschool to primary level. Religious education is provided at three private schools: International School Brunei, Jerudong International School and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School.
Arabic and religious schools in Brunei are under the leadership of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, in collaboration 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.
After 50 years since the first Arabic school – Hassanal Bolkiah Boys’ Arabic Secondary School (SMALHB) was built in 1964, there are now seven Arabic schools in Brunei: four in Brunei-Muara and one each in Belait, Tutong and Temburong. Religious schools start from preschool. Education in Arabic schools begins in Year Five and is offered until preuniversity level for male students and Year 11 for female students.
The recently built Kampung Rimba Arabic Secondary School can accommodate 2,000 students with classrooms, science and language laboratories, lecture halls, multi-purpose hall, teachers’ room, library, hostel, surau, canteen and a field, to accommodate the growing number of students enrolling in religious studies.
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