New university in Brunei
By Syafiq Affendy

Brunei Darussalam now has another university. His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam revealed that Brunei's Institute of Technology, "Institut Teknologi Brunei" (ITB), has been officially upgraded to university status. The educational institute will, however, retain its old name.

The monarch also consented for the establishment of a new polytechnic, the relocation of the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah Nursing College to Universiti Brunei Darussalam's Institute of Medicine, as well as the establishment of a Health Care Department.

His Majesty, who delivered his titah during the Teachers' Day Celebration at the International Convention Centre yesterday, meanwhile acknowledged the important roles of teachers as "prime movers" towards the success of the National Education System of the 21st Century (SPN21), which will be implemented by January next year.

"As January 2009 approaches, we will implement a system called 'National Education System of the 21st Century', and towards its implementation, teachers will play an important role in its success," the monarch said. "They (teachers) will be at the forefront in facing the various demands under the new system."

The new education system will bring about major changes, as it promises a quality life for future generations. This would not be limited to a select group, like those in the education field, but also all levels of the community.

His Majesty pointed out that the capability of teachers should be given attention first. And for this reason, the monarch expressed happiness to learn that the Ministry of Education is now actively encouraging the professional development of their teachers, whilst ensuring that their welfare is maintained.

Effective June 1, 2008, His Majesty has consented for a new service scheme for teachers called "Teaching Service Scheme" (Skim Perkhidmatan Perguruan), in which teachers with calibre will have the opportunity to obtain higher promotions and, at the same time, will be able to remain working in schools. His Majesty also described knowledge as the measure of a teacher's quality. In light of this, ensuring that teachers have "master knowledge" remains as one of the priorities under this special scheme.

The monarch hopes that the Ministry of Education would make sending teachers for training either in the country or overseas for in-service training as one of the ministry's main priorities. His Majesty expressed his confidence that efforts for this will be implemented appropriately.

Touching on the new education system dubbed "SPN21", the monarch said that it is vital that there is sufficient teacher manpower to ensure the success of the new education system. This matter should not be overlooked, His Majesty said.

The monarch has been informed that the Ministry of Education has taken steps to overcome the issue.

His Majesty said that in the short-term, Brunei currently does not have any other option but to continue using overseas manpower. However, the monarch reiterated that plans should be made to increase the number of local teachers in the long run.

In this respect, proper planning must not be neglected especially in producing a high level professional human resource, His Majesty said, adding that the age factor must be taken into account, and not just getting degree holders given the fact that time and opportunity for them to serve is less or very limited.

It is, therefore, appropriate that the candidates for this level of professionals be picked from a pool of younger people, said the monarch. "And while we wait for them to bring success, it is a norm for us to acquire foreign manpower first."

In concluding the titah, His Majesty congratulated the recipients of the 2008 Teachers' Day Awards and hoped that it will motivate other teachers to increase their level of excellence in all aspects of education. - Borneo Bulletin (19th Oct 2008)