Call to address SPN 21 shortfalls
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said teachers should prove their greatness by possessing credible leadership qualities and vast knowledge, as these would lead them to be hailed and respected. The monarch delivered a titah at the 24th Teacher’s Day celebration and 100 Years of Formal Education in Brunei Darussalam at the International Convention Centre yesterday.

teacher should tell us not to be complacent and work hard to strengthen knowledge and learning which drives us towards acquiring skills needed in the 21st Century. Towards this, the Ministry of Education should outline better strategic plans and approaches for the country’s educational system.

I welcome the efforts made by the Ministry of Education in evaluating the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN 21) which was implemented in 2009. In evaluating this education system, weaknesses and shortfalls, if any, should also be looked at,” His Majesty said.

It is not appropriate if we just showcase nice things as I myself have not forgotten the weaknesses SPN 21 had in the very beginning. Have such weaknesses been resolved?” the monarch asked.

Speaking on the century-old development of formal education in the Sultanate, His Majesty said the 100-year history could become a benchmark for development. During the period, education has certainly undergone many changes in line with development and current demand.

With the far-sightedness of my father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, who formulated a balanced educational policy by stressing on Islamic education while at the same time emphasising on normal education, the policy has succeeded in producing quality local intellectuals.

Praise to Allah the Almighty, the educational policy which we have implemented all these years, especially after the independence, is becoming more stable.

The policy not only produces the needed human capital but has also succeeded in uniting citizens and residents in a strong union which is Malay, Islamic, Monarchy (MIB)-centric,” said His Majesty.

The monarch also said, “In the international arena, Brunei Darussalam has a commitment to providing quality, basic and core education for children, youth and adults.

I am pleased to note that the rate of literacy for male and female aged 15-24 years is 99.18 per cent and 99.53 per cent respectively.

This indicates that we have achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in our literacy rate. We have also fulfilled six areas in the framework of Education for All (EFA) which should be achieved by 2015.

Based on the report by UNESCO, our achievement is good compared to other countries where as many as 250 million children could not read, write and think. Around 130 million children who are in primary schools have yet to achieve the minimum standard of learning and another 120 million have low attendance level at school including 50 million who did not attend school.

Certainly, we do not want to hear that we are part of the figures. I am glad to know that Brunei Darussalam has played a bigger and wider role in this region and internationally.

In the past, this country was recognised solely as a financial contributor, but now we are providing service in the form of human capital by sending locals to teach English to our neighbouring countries.

Without doubt, we are now part of the global community that is enjoying educational development.

But in our passion to enjoy such a development, we should not forget the way we created such a golden pathway,” said the ruler.

We started on our own with formal as well as informal education with Islamic education as the basis. This is our Brunei which no one can change,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty wished all teachers a Happy Teacher’s Day and prayed that all their efforts would pay off and they would receive blessings from Allah the Almighty. His Majesty also congratulated all the award recipients and hoped that the awards would boost productivity of those who are still in service.

Accompanying His Majesty at the event were HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik and HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel.

His Majesty was earlier greeted on arrival by the Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awang Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong; Minister of Religious Affairs, Pg Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad bin Pg Hj Abdul Rahman; Deputy Minister of Education, Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail and other senior government officials.

Some 200 students, undergraduates from various levels of education lined up to welcome the monarch, followed by the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah by the State Mufti for Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien.

The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien award to Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Ahmad bin Hj Jumat.

Meritorious awards were also given to four teachers namely Cikgu Hj Kassim bin Hj Adis, Cikgu Hj Othman bin Durani, Cikgu Hjh Siti Nafsiah binti Orang Kaya Maharaja Dinda Hj Saman and Cikgu Hjh Hafsah binti Hj Naweh.

Four teachers also received excellence awards. They are: Cikgu Hjh Aminah binti Hj Abdul Wahab, Cikgu Dr Hjh Zurina binti Hj Harun, Cikgu Sharifah Khadijah binti Hussein Alkaff and Ustazah Hjh Norhayati binti Hj Sawal.

His Majesty also witnessed an exhibition depicting 100 Years of Formal Education in Brunei Darussalam and launched two books. - Borneo Bulletin (10 October 2014)