When did formal education begin in Brunei?
My colleagues at MOE was asking me the other day when exactly did formal education started in Brunei. I understand MOE wants to celebrate the 100th anniversary of formal education but the exact date is not known. All I can answer is that refer to the Brunei Annual Reports.
However the Brunei Annual Reports in those years have not been reporting much on education. By 1911, the British Resident had been running the government for five years and they are still focused on many other issues, the utmost important was how to raise money. Remember in those days, the Brunei government had to repay back our loans to the Straits Settlement Government and was not exactly flushed with money.
In 1911, the Brunei Annual Report recorded the following for education:-
"Preparations were made to start schools in the new year. It is most difficult to find any one who can read or write amongst the Brunei Malays so this has led to the employment of foreign Malays."
For the next two years, the Brunei Annual Report was silent on education issues. In 1914, the Report recorded the following for education:-
"There is a small Malay Vernacular School at Brunei with about 30 boys attending. Hitherto it has been held in the mosque, but in October was removed to the building formerly used as the Monopolies office."
Based on these two statements, strictly speaking the first school building other than education at the mosque began in October 1914. Formal education most likely held at the mosque began sometime in 1911 or 1912 as the statement of the 1911 report did not mention which 'new year' though it does imply 1912 rather than 1911.