As the country gears for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Ministry of Education (MoE) strives to provide an equitable and holistic education system for all. Under the long term outcomes of the ministry’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the MoE plans towards a firstclass education system. This includes having qualified and high quality teachers, high quality schools and students with high achievements.
The country’s National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21) takes into account the abilities of individual students, offering multiple pathways. In addition, highly capable
students are able to complete their secondary education in a shorter period of time. Through this system, students have the options to choose programmes that best suit their abilities, interests, growth and development, catering to their needs.
Formal schooling in the country begins at pre-school level at the age of five, followed by six years of primary education. After the primary school assessment at the end of Year 6, students will proceed to secondary (tertiary) level.
Secondary education is divided into lower secondary level and upper secondary level. The lower secondary level covers two years of common curriculum – Year 7 and Year 8. Afterwards, students sit for the student progress examination and proceed to the upper secondary level.
The upper secondary level is split into three programmes. The first programme is the General Secondary Education Programme, split into two categories: Express (two years) or Normal (three years). The second programme, Applied Secondary Education Programme, lasts for three years. In both programmes, students sit for the Brunei Cambridge General Certificate of Education (BC GCE) ‘O’ Level and International General Certificate of Secondary Examination (IGCSE). The third programme, Special Applied Programme, follows a different pathway. Students enroll into Pearson Business and Technology Education Council Programme which gears students towards vocational and technical education. Students with special needs and learning difficulties have a curriculum adapted to their abilities based on the individualised education plan and remedial education plan.
The MoE provides scholarships for talented and qualified students to pursue higher education through its Government Scholarship Scheme to study abroad, whether to pursue their First Degree, Master, Professional or PhD.
Aside from the Government Scholarship Scheme, students are able to study abroad through the Government Education Loan Scheme (SBPP). If a recipient successfully graduates with a First Class (Honours), the loan is treated as a scholarship, and the recipient is not required to repay the loan.
Other scholarships available include the prestigious Yayasan Sultan’s Scholarship scheme, offered by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB) for the highest achievers in the country. Bruneians also have the opportunity of obtaining a scholarship under the Ministry of Defence to study at the world’s top and renowned universities. The scholarship is aimed to develop outstanding leaders who will contribute to the nation’s defence and security. With the various government aid and scholarship opportunities, Brunei Darussalam strives to realise its Vision 2035 for an educated, highly skilled and successful society.
Several academic institutions in the country have achieved notable milestones over the past year. One of them is Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), entering the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the very first time with a global position in the 401 to 500 band. UBD is now the fourth-ranked university in ASEAN, internationally recognised for excellence in teaching and research.
In addition, UBD’s focus on novel and impactful research with practical applications has begun to show results. To date, UBD has filed 58 patents in various geographies including the United States. Some of the patents have resulted in commercialisation, such as the licensing of a patent on anti-bacterial and antifungal photo-catalytic coating to Smart Coating Technologies (B) Sdn Bhd.
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) has improved its position in the newly published 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings (QSWUR): Asia at 137. UTB has risen 44 places from its previous position, making UTB among the top 25 per cent in the ranking.
This achievement follows an equally remarkable accomplishment where UTB was ranked at 379 globally based on the QSWUR 2020. UTB is the only university in the country rated Five Star by QS. With regards to research projects, UTB actively collaborates with its partner universities in the areas of disaster management, artificial intelligence, blockchain and Internet of things.
Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), on the other hand, achieved the ISO 21001:2018 management system for educational organisations. The IBTE Jefri Bolkiah Campus has been recognised as an Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO)-approved training centre to run International Minimum Industry Safety Training (IMIST) courses.
On January 23, 2019, an agreement was signed between LiveWIRE Brunei and IBTE Agro-Technology Campus to support the development of agropreneurs in Brunei. Approximately 10 hectares of paddy fields at the IBTE Agro-Technology Campus have been designated for paddy production.
Laksamana College of Business (LCB) has also achieved several milestones in 2019. The private academic institution launched the LCB Incuvation Centre as a workspace for aspiring entrepreneurs and new start-ups to get their business dreams off the ground.
LCB Culinary School, the first of its kind in Brunei, was officially launched in March 2019 to train students who aspire to become proficient in local and international cuisines. Located just beside the LCB building, the Culinary School is designed to provide an authentic and professional culinary environment.
Kumon is the world’s leading after-school enrichment programme, founded in 1954 in Japan and born out of a father’s love for his son. The Kumon Method is all about maximising a student’s potential with the “just-right” level of study and is available in more than 50 countries and regions. Kumon has over 7,500 centres and over four million students enrolled.
The first Kumon centre in Brunei was set up in 2015, and since then, Kumon has expanded its operation in the country. In 2019, Kumon opened its fifth and latest learning centre in Kuala Belait.
At Kumon, self-learning and developing soft skills are just as important as grades. Students are provided with materials best suited to their abilities, so no one gets left behind or feels unmotivated because they do not feel challenged.
When it comes to education, Kumon believes there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” programme because every child thinks and learns differently. Kumon believes in the limitless potential of each person and endeavours to realise that potential by providing education tailored to each student.
The Kumon Method is an individualised learning method that provides the optimum level of study at the right time and pace.
A large part of Kumon’s method of learning is to nurture and encourage independent learning, which means students study Kumon worksheets and correct their mistakes independently.
Kumon’s worksheets have been designed in a way to allow students to figure out how to solve problems on their own. Examples and explanation are clearly provided when moving on to new topics, encouraging students to self-learn and advance independently.
When students encounter difficulties, Kumon instructors assist the students by giving subtle hints so that they will be encouraged to progress and take on further challenges. As a result, students develop independent and critical thinking skills instead of passively receiving directions from their instructors.
Eventually, students study far beyond school grade level independently and will excel in other subjects, applying the self-learning skills developed through Kumon. In addition to fostering a joy for learning and instilling good study habits, the Kumon Method develops perseverance and self-confidence in each student to become a resilient learner for life.
Kumon offers a wide variety of programmes from preschool to primary school and beyond. The main programmes cover core subjects such as Mathematics, English and even pencil skills for young children to start drawing and writing at an early age. Kumon’s focus on numeracy and linguistics ensures students develop a solid foundation to excel in both primary and secondary school.
Copyright 2019 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook 2019 All rights reserved.