Saturday, February 28, 2015

Education Options After O Levels in Brunei

TO MEET the aspirations of Vision 2035 for the people of Brunei Darussalam to be in the world’s top 10 countries with the highest standard of living, the national education system must provide every student the opportunity to acquire the right skills and competencies to seek gainful employment that would build the foundation for a more inclusive and harmonious society.

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) provides opportunities for students to learn hands-on skills and competencies required in the workplace. These skills are highly sought-after by the industry and TVET will be providing students with skills-based instructions that would benefit those dexterous learners more than other learning styles.

Contrary to popular belief, TVET is not for failures in schools; the stigma of technical education on the societal mindset must also change in line with present-day realities. The success of an education system hinges on its ability to meet the different needs of students through alternative pathways, including that of a quality post-secondary TVET.

This is a primary responsibility of the government. A highly educated and skilled workforce will help to promote investments and build a modern economy that creates quality employment opportunities, especially in the private sector.

This underpins the rationale for the transformation of technical education in Brunei. The new TVET system is expected to stay relevant and responsive to the changing demands from the industry and the community, and also to bring about a change in mindset about technical and vocational training in the society.

Thus, the ultimate aim of the transformation of technical education in Brunei is to restructure and establish a new system of TVET that is better aligned with the social and economic needs of the Sultanate.

In the transformed Brunei Technical Education system, school leavers would benefit from early access to quality vocational training programmes – equipping graduates for high employability and lifelong learning, via building and strengthening linkages with industries.

The transformation of Brunei Technical Education is benchmarked against international standards yet customised to local needs. The focus of its mission is on employability and success of its graduates in their professional career development, further education and entrepreneurship.

The plan is in line with the aspirations of SPN21, the Ministry of Education’s National Strategic Education Plan and Brunei’s Vision 2035. It is a major response and policy shift in education to strengthen the infrastructure and build capacity in human capital development for future generations of young people and working adults.

The Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) will strengthen its focus on the development of practical skills. The curriculum will be “competency-based” and training will be “hands-on”. It will conduct three levels of courses and award its own certificates – ie Industrial Skills Qualification (ISQ), National Technical Education Certificate (NTec) and Higher National Technical Education Certificate (HNTec).

Graduates of the HNTec courses are trained as “technicians” while those in NTec and ISQ will qualify as “skilled personnel” and “artisans” respectively.

The ISQ courses are industrial short courses with the duration of up to one year depending on the nature of the occupation.

The NTec full-time courses will last for one or two years depending on the nature and depth of the training required. HNTec courses, on the other hand, are pegged at a higher level of training with more theory and will need two years to complete. The HNTec courses will also require a minimum of three GCE ‘O’ Levels with prerequisite subjects and grades.

To better respond to the wide range of educational achievements, especially in the English Language, Mathematics and Science, there will be two categories of NTec courses. Programmes under Category ‘A’ such as engineering are more demanding and require at least the completion of Year 11 (or Year 10 in the express programme) with prerequisite subjects and grades.

Programmes in Category ‘B’ such as hair-dressing and beauty are less demanding and only require a completion of Year 11 (or Year 10 in the express programme). ISQ courses, meanwhile, require completion of Form 3 (Year 9) and cater to those who want to obtain more specialised industrial skills for employment.

There are opportunities for students to progress from one level to the next but this will based on merit performance which is measured through Grade Point Average (GPA). In principle, the eligibility criteria for progression to the next level of training should be based on merit performance and the potential to do well. Quality and standards must not be compromised.

The primary mission of BTE is to sufficiently prepare people for the occupations for which they are trained. Its mission should not be relegated to preparing students for the next level of education and training. Those who have performed well must be given the opportunities to progress further. This will provide the motivation for students to do well and enhance the attractiveness of the training system.

The different pathways will add to the robustness of the educational system. With proper articulation and experience, more opportunities can be created for up IBTE graduates to progress to the higher level courses within IBTE and Politeknik Brunei (PB).

For students who opted to further their specialisation and strengthen their knowledge and skills in their chosen field, PB offers a myriad of Level 4 (equivalent to OND) and Level 5 (equivalent to HND) diploma programmes for them to choose from.

From July this year, PB will be offering new and restructured diploma programmes under its three schools – the School of Science and Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, and School of Business – as well as newly inducted Level 4 diploma programmes in health sciences.

These programmes will provide more students with opportunities to progress in their studies and pursue more specialised skills in their chosen field.

The School of Science and Engineering will be adding six new programmes, on top of the one engineering programme and one design programme that it is currently offering.

In July 2015, the school will also be offering Level 5 diploma programmes in electrical and electronics engineering, tele-communications engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and science technology (specialising in chemical laboratory technology).

These programmes require a strong foundation in mathematics with sound knowledge in relevant subjects such as electronics, mechanics and physics. Students who possess five ‘O’ Level credits that include mathematics, English and relevant subjects, as well as those who have relevant TVET qualifications, will be able to pursue specialisation in these fields.

The school will also be adding a diploma in architecture programme, in addition to the diploma in design programme that it currently offers. Students with a strong foundation in art, design, and design and technology who want to further their skills this field will benefit from these programmes.

The School of Information and Communication Technology is offering more restructured programmes that are demand and industry-driven. The restructured ICT programmes will address the shortcomings identified by the National ICT Manpower Master Plan survey that the exiting national institutions for ICT education and training are unable to meet the demand for ICT professionals both in terms of quantity and quality.

The School of ICT will be offering diploma programmes in network security, information systems, web development, digital media, and library informatics and computing. The school has been working closely with key industry players in the field of ICT to have its programme modules (subjects) certified professionally and kept abreast with current technology.

The recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by Politeknik Brunei with Microsoft will see its instructors and students utilise the latest in ICT teaching and learning tools made available by the latter. This would enable PB instructors and students to acquire ICT skills that are current and on par with global practices.

Students who wish to pursue careers in ICT-related fields at PB will have to have a strong foundation in Mathematics and English as well as other relevant subjects such as Computer Studies, ICT, Design and Technology, and Art and Design.

The nation’s drive to diversify its economy and unsustainable reliance on the oil and gas industry are not lost on the development of PB’s programmes and curriculum. Small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship have been identified as key players and factors that would drive our diversification efforts.

In response to this as well as conclusions from discussions with key stakeholders, the School of Business is restructuring its programmes to realise the country’s economic aspirations and to meet the needs and demands of the changing economic landscape.

The school is consolidating its current five programmes into two diploma programmes that would provide a more focused and solid foundation for students with business acumen.

The diploma in business accounting and finance will provide students with more specialised skills in accounting and finance, while the diploma in business studies will give opportunity for students to specialise in entrepreneurship, marketing, and human resource management.

The restructured programmes will also equip students with the skills and competence that would better prepare them for the world of business and commerce.

The latest addition to the stable of diploma programmes at PB is the Level 4 Health Sciences diploma programmes. Applicants will have to possess a minimum of four GCE ‘O’ Level credits that includes a credit (A1-C6) in English and relevant subjects.

Those with a recognised Certificate for Assistant Nurse, Certificate in Midwifery (Division II) or a Certificate in Nursing with a working experience of not less than two years are also eligible to apply.

The development of the programmes at PB is part of the transformation of the national technical education that is currently in place. The new three-year diploma programmes is designed to provide opportunities for every student to choose an education path that is more suited to his or her abilities and capabilities without compromising their chances for a fulfilling career.

The post-secondary multiple pathways strategy is a key element in the national technical education transformation drive to leave no student behind in their education and to equip students with relevant skills and to make them job-ready for employment.

Information on the different programmes run by IBTE can be assessed through the website Application for the July 2015 intake commenced on February 16 and will end on March 26. Applications can be made online through TVECAS ( For more information, call IBTE during office hours through the Head of Student Affairs at 2425555.

The public are also welcome to the IBTE Campus Open Day to learn more of what is offered at its institutions as below:

– Mechanical Training Centre, Tungku, Gadong (March 3 and 4, 2015)

– Jefri Bolkiah Engineering College, Kuala Belait (March 5 and 7)

– The Vocational School (March 7 and 9)

– Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College, Jalan Muara (March 7, 9 and 10)

– Nakhoda Ragam Vocational School, Lebuhraya Muara-Tutong (March 9 and 10)

– Sultan Bolkiah Vocational School, Seria (March 12-15)

– The Business School, Gadong (March 14 and 16).

Meanwhile, PB will be organising an open day from February 26 to 28 and also on March 2 to be held at the CAE Brunei Multipurpose Training Centre, Tungku Highway, Kg Tungku in Gadong, open to the public from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm.

For further information, visit or contact PB during office hours through the Registrar at 2234466.

(Courtesy of IBTE &PB)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Aiko and Taro Playhouse

The newly established Aiko and Taro Playhouse, located at Unit 4, First Floor, Block C of Bangunan BPD Haj Md Yusof in Kg Kiulap, aims to provide a positive environment for childen to flourish naturally.

The founder of Aiko and Taro Playhouse, JC Yong explained their FEEL concept, which involves right brain stimulation activities especially for kids between four to six years old, and said that children pick up certain stills like reading, language art and music better at an early age given their brain develment capacity.

The FEEL concept stands for ‘Feed your kids with knowledge, Expose your kids to art and music, Encourage your kids to express themselves freely and Lead your kids to the world of reading;.

The playhouse’s main objective is to build a robust foundation on reading the ability for kids to better overcame academic challenges in the future, whild nurturing their creativity and instincts.

Education programmes in schools generally focus on left braind developments and teach children to learn through reason and repetitions with organised information.

At the Aiko and Taro Playhouse, kids are exposed to about 300 book titles per year from carefully selected resources, while also exposing them to fun art and music.

The playhouse also has an “I Love Drama” group, which encourages the kids to express their imaginative thinking, visualise situations, improve their social, lingusitic and physical expression skills as well as spontaneous responses, which are all fundamental in building their self-confidence,

Interested parties can visit the Aiko and Taro Playhouse’s Facebook page for further information or call 8727898 to sign up for a free trial session.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Traditional Games in Brunei: Windows to the Past

Sunday, February 22, 2015

TRADITIONAL children’s games may not be as popular as they were generations ago, but parents and teachers agree that they can only be good for today’s children, whether for learning customs and traditions or simply for a healthy dose of outdoor exercise.

“Not many children today know about the games we used to play when we were kids... Now, most games use technology. You only need to relax and sit to play games. Games in the past required physical exertion; you needed to expend energy!” said Hj Abd Rashid Hj Md Rais, who pointed out that kids of his generation were healthy and fit, while obesity is prevalent among today’s children.

He was speaking to The Brunei Times while watching his two daughters playing gatah (a game using a rope made from rubber bands) as part of a traditional games activity organised by Belait Arabic School yesterday.

“We used to play gatah just like they’re doing now. Two kids will hold the rope up while others take turns jumping over it. It gets progressively higher, starting at foot height, moving up to the knee, then to the hips, shoulders, ears and head.

“The highest is a hand’s breadth above the head. Back in my day, we would even go twice that!” said Hj Abd Rashid loudly, above the rising sound of children’s laughter.

He admitted that even his children were unfamiliar with most of the traditional games but said he would often organise simple games during family gatherings.

For many of the 179 children participating, it was their first time trying their hand at the games, which was apparent from their awkward beginning steps.

But shyness soon turned into careless bliss for most, egged on by laughing classmates as they discovered the simple joys of traditional games.

Schoolteacher Ahmad Za’aim Hj Bagol said the school was introducing four traditional games in the activity: Gatah, Carah Kaki Tiga (where teams take turns defending a pyramid of three slippers from attackers), Belalang Belatuk (Grasshopper Woodpecker - where two opposing teams chase each other, depending on which team is called out) and Dato Harimau (similar to playing “tag”).

“Today’s objective is to ensure that our students not only excel in class but also in health. We also want to expose them to the traditional games of olden days... We discovered during the explanations of each game that many of them didn’t know how to play,” said Ahmad Za’aim.

“In my opinion, this (poor knowledge of traditional games) is due to our obsession with the age of technology... These kids are more interested in modern games on their iPads. But we shouldn’t allow this knowledge to be lost. It’s important for us to preserve these old games as part of our cultural heritage,” he added. The event took place in the STKRJ Kg Mumong playground area and is one of several activities lined up by the Belait Arabic School to mark the tenth anniversary of its founding.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Celebrating 31 Years of Independence in Brunei


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

THE vibrant colours of the national flag reigned over the capital yesterday as more than 22,000 people descended upon Bandar to celebrate Brunei’s 31st National Day.

As the thick shroud of dawn mist slowly gave way to a blistering mid-morning sun, people from all walks of life poured into Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS).

Flag-waving students lined the streets leading to the historic padang, where Brunei was proclaimed an independent nation on January 1, 1984.Anticipation reached a peak at 8.15am as the public eagerly welcomed the arrival of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

He was accompanied by several members of the Royal family, including His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel and HRH Princess Ameerah.

Dressed in the uniform of the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, His Majesty saluted as the national anthem, Allah Peliharakan Sultan (Allah Bless His Majesty), rang out over the field with thousands standing in recognition of King and country.

The Sultan then descended the dais briefly to inspect the guard of honour on the field.

Senior government officials, foreign envoys, and other invited guests took their seats in the grandstand to watch the annual procession of 125 groups, comprising uniformed personnel, government agencies, schools, non-profit organisations and community associations.

The parade kicked off with several flag-bearers ushering in a super-sized version of Brunei Darussalam’s national flag, with a choir and Royal Brunei Armed Forces band playing behind them.

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces then took to the field in a seamless procession of army, air force and navy capabilities, displaying their weaponry and keen military precision as they circled Taman SOAS.

The monarch stood at attention for two hours as the parade of 22,000 people flowed past, acknowledging the dedication and loyalty the participants had shown to the nation.

Trainees of the National Service Scheme (Program Khidmat Bakti Negara or PKBN) put on an impressive exhibition of a silent drill, and crowds cheered as special needs groups withstood the gruelling heat to walk past the Royal dais, bringing patriotic sentiment at Taman SOAS to an all-time high.

At the end of the march-past, the crowd fell silent as Hj Mohammad Shahrol Azmi Hj Abd Muluk, an assistant lecturer at Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College, led the public in a stirring recital of the national day pledge.

“I’m so happy to have completed this task successfully, it took a lot of preparation and several interviews to be chosen for this job,” he later said. “I really feel the merdeka spirit because I was chosen to represent my country.”

By 10am, the padang was almost at full capacity, with schoolchildren becoming restless in the sweltering heat before the finale performance.

To conclude the event, Bruneian youth lit up the venue with a rousing field performance centred on the National Day theme – Generasi Berwawasan (Visionary Generation). Some 7,900 students waved skillfully manoeuvered metallic yellow, green and red pom poms, to form the National Day logo.

Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah gave a heartfelt speech to the participants expressing his appreciation for their efforts.

“The performance was tremendously successful, His Majesty was very pleased,” he later told The Brunei Times.

“The spirit and enthusiasm was very high among the participants and how they expressed themselves, the love for the nation and King… They recognise they are the visionary generation to bring the nation forward.”

The Brunei Times

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei: Step out of Comfort Zone

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam delivering the titah. INFOFOTO
23 February 2015

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday lamented the lack of enthusiasm among the younger generation who have yet to grasp opportunities provided by the government.

In the monarch’s 31st National Day titah that was aired on radio as well as television last night, His Majesty said the government has invested in human resource development programmes to provide locals with skills and abilities to meet the demand of the private sector. But in spite of that “not many are seizing opportunities that are readily available.”

His Majesty questioned the cause behind this issue and pointed out that perhaps many are too cautious to step away from their comfort zones whereby, “many of our locals are still too hopeful on the government sector for employment”, despite the private sector offering positions that can also fulfil their needs.

“Solutions must be found for this (issue),” said His Majesty.

With this year’s National Day theme ‘Generation with a Vision’ still remains relevant in fulfilling the nation’s Vision 2035, the monarch reminded that the younger generation must be prepared to face challenges that lie in the future.

Among these challenges, it was pointed out, include the preservation of peace, which has enabled the people of Brunei to live in comfort and carry out a number of development plans that have led to the nation’s prosperity, and the current obstacles the nation face that ought to be tackled by all members of society.

In stressing that peace is a responsibility not just shouldered by security and enforcement agencies, His Majesty reminded members of the public must play their role in ensuring that the country continues to benefit from peace that Brunei has been blessed with.

“Among the influences that can disrupt peace and prosperity is the abuse of drugs,” said His Majesty. “Government agencies, the public, parents, schools, non-government organisations and grassroots leaders must work together towards instilling awareness and encourage concerted efforts to overcome the misuse of drugs”, with education at home and school, especially religious education, being the tool for empowerment.

The economy, continued His Majesty, is also closely linked with the country’s peace. However, with competition abound in the context of globalisation, cyber communication as well as innovation that spreads across several different areas, Bruneians have been reminded to be competitive as well.

“We need to be competitive through our values, ways and thinking towards making us more independent and self-sustaining without being dependant on assistance. We must be the instigator of change and adapt appropriately to ensure that we are not left behind.”

Among the efforts currently in place to stimulate and diversify the economy was consented by His Majesty and implemented earlier in the year.

The amendment to the Miscellaneous Licence Act (Amendment) 2015 that, among others, replaces the Miscellaneous Licence with the more convenient process of obtaining the business licence that cuts down the process of licensing to just one day, is hoped to provide opportunities for the younger generation in setting up their own businesses.

Other avenues that can be pursued, it was said, include multiplying efforts in attracting more Foreign Direct Investments in the non-oil and gas sectors, improving the investment atmosphere and enterprises as well as providing the physical infrastructure and encouraging the development of model individuals.

“Economic dependency on one sector is not sustainable. We must diversify our economy to prepare ourselves for unexpected difficulties,” the monarch said.

What needs to be practised as well is prudence and inculcate this as a culture, which His Majesty described as being a culture that is of importance especially when income is low.

In concluding the titah, His Majesty expressed his appreciation and gratitude to committee members who played their role in organising this year’s celebration and to participants as well as those on duty for their efforts in securing the success of this year’s independence day celebration.

The monarch also expressed his appreciation to all levels of the community including those in the public sector, either working at home or overseas, the security personnel and those working in the private sector and prayed for the country to continue to receive protection from Allah the Almighty.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Inspirational Quotes