Sultan visits 2nd Pilot Project for PKBN
Siti Hajar

After taking on its first intake last year and with the upcoming second Passing Out for dozens of youths, the nation's own National Service Programme (PKBN) has evolved to include numerous changes and improvements in its bid to better facilitate the instilling of the core values needed for the country's youth development.

As explained yesterday by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in his welcoming remarks for His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's visit to the Second Pilot Project for the National Service Programme, the upgrades for PKBN have already been set in motion based on feedback made not only by the monarch during his previous visit in February but also from former PKBN trainees, supervisors and parents.

In describing the efforts to produce "Brunei's Excellent Youth", Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah categorised the changes into four, the first being infrastructure - in line the call made in His Majesty's titah - with the construction of a parade ground situated within the PKBN vicinity itself for both physical and parade training.

Towards promoting discipline, responsibility and teamwork, the second addition to the programme, also as per His Majesty's titah, includes arms training through simulators, live bullets as well as paintball exercises with cooperation from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Technical Services.

Apart from improving the quality of PKBN's pre-existing curriculum comprising economics, the Malay Islamic Monarchy concept and so on, from a spiritual front, a number of modules taught by permanent staff from the Islamic Studies Department have been included into the trainees' religious curriculum through collaboration with the State Mufti Department. Areas include al-Quran reading refinement, Hadith lectures, al-Quran translation, Fiqeh and Taharah.

On the religious component of the programme, the minister said, "Alhamdulillah, trainees have successfully read in full the al-Quran", whereby a ceremony was held in conjunction with such an achievement, which was attended by parents and other family members.

With an increase of participants for the second pilot project from 78 to 97 including three non-Muslim youths, the minister added, PKBN has also increased its human resource by about 22 per cent from 41 to 53 individuals comprising 13 officers from Outward Bound Brunei Darussalam, 22 from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, one from the Royal Brunei Police Force, one from the Prisons Department, three from the Fire and Rescue Department, nine from the Islamic Studies Department and four volunteers including those from the first PKBN batch.

Yesterday's visit held significant meaning for the trainees, said the minister. He added that the monarch's presence reflected His Majesty's concern and emphasis in ensuring that the programme can indeed foster role models among youths who are equipped with a sense of identity, love for the monarch, country, nation and religion, while at the same time promoting independence and entrepreneurship to face the 21st Century which is becoming increasingly challenging. - Borneo Bulletin (22 June 2012)