Royalty visits Hornbill School
By James Kon

Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah yesterday officiated the opening of Hornbill School's expanded facilities. Some 464 children aged between three and 11 years were inspired by Her Royal Highness' visit.

It was not the first time that Her Royal Highness visited Hornbill School, which is located at the British Garrison in Seria. Her Royal Highness' first visit was on March 23, 2005.

Upon arrival, Her Royal Highness was welcomed by the British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Mr Rob Fenn, at the Helipad landing. Her Royal Highness was greeted at the school compound by the Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awang Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong and Deputy Minister of Education, Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Yusoff bin Hj Ismail, as well as officials from the ministry and school.

Miss Kathy Wood, the Head Teacher of Hornbill School in an interview with the Bulletin said, "Her Royal Highness' second visit to the school has really reinforced for us the importance of education that Her Royal Highness has placed in young children. She is a role model to the children as she practises what she is interested in. For young children who are forming attitude, they aspire to be like Her Royal Highness because she takes care of her learning and places importance on education. I know our children has thoroughly enjoyed Her Royal Highness presence here."

Recalling the first visit by Her Royal Highness, she said, "When Her Royal Highness first visited Hornbill School, we had just started as a school and were very new. We were five miles apart working in two premises that had been quite a challenge for us."

She added, "At that time, it was Her Royal Highness' first official engagement so we felt very honoured then as we are now. Her Royal Highness now has her own children and we can draw parallel with especially looking at the three and four years old and the interaction that they are having.

"Her Royal Highness is very interested in what the children are doing and how they are learning as well as the scope of learning and the range of experience that they are having."

On future plans, she said, "We are developing our curriculum like our Brunei's colleagues in SPN21. And we are also developing more works in terms of sharing practising and training programmes. We are also looking at developing an area for physical education and a small theatre made out of wood. We are looking at developing our values curriculum, our work with Bruneian colleagues and partnerships as well as our ground."

At the school's new ground, the 'Reflection Garden' that symbolises the bringing together of the school community for tranquillity and peace, Her Royal Highness witnessed the lighting of the lamp ceremony led by Mr Fenn, to bless the new facilities of the school.

Her Royal Highness then moved on to tour the facilities of the school, which included the new cyber zone, library, classrooms and new learning environment.

During the tour, Her Royal Highness also mingled with some of the children.

The tour stopped temporarily at the Multipurpose Hall of the school where Her Royal Highness witnessed an array of performances by the students that come from diverse backgrounds.

Mr Fenn, in his speech prior to the students' performances said, "We are proud of the whole school community, its teaching staff, administrators, parents and helpers of all kinds. They have proved that a Garrison community, which brings together people from different cultures very far from home can be a centre of learning, discovery, self-confidence and fun. You have achieved this because of your diversity and respect you show for difference. You have transformed the unusual features of the school into a strength and simply by being bright, happy and kind. You are better ambassadors for what Britain believed in than I could ever be."

Following the performances, Her Royal Highness also unveiled the children's Bruneian Inspired Artwork. The artwork made from natural materials based on the teapot at the roundabout was designed by children between three and four years old in three weeks.

A replica of the artwork was presented to Her Royal Highness.

Before concluding the ceremony, Her Royal Highness unveiled the 'Moment in Time', a commemorative time capsule monument.

The time capsules contain all the schoolchildren's aspiration and dreams of better future. It will also include memories of Brunei, the visit of Her Royal Highness as well as photographs and ranges of items. The Time Capsules will be buried in a few days in the ground of Hornbill School.

Following the tour, the Minister of Education praised Hornbill School for building values of respect in the diverse school population.

"This is good, I think if we look at the 21st century, one of the most important factors that we need to instil among school students is inculcating students in the values of respect for other culture, religion and nationality. Here, there is a community of multi-cultural, multi-religions, and multi-languages. This is a place where children can be developed for the future and play their role in the 21st century."

The minister added, "The existence of the school with strong curriculum of attaining quality values which can also be found in the Brunei's education system would provide a good benchmark for other schools. Schools from Seria and Kuala Belait areas, they can learn from the best practices of this school and also similarly, Hornbill School can learn the best practices from government schools. Already we have invited the school's teachers to participate in the programmes organised by the Ministry of Education for example the leadership programme. They are part of us and they contribute by giving perspectives from different viewpoints." - Borneo Bulletin (27th May 2011)