| Rokiah Mahmud |
THE Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Boys Secondary School (SMALHB) celebrated its 50th anniversary in commemoration with the foundation-laying ceremony that was held in September 1964 by the 28th ruler of Brunei, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien (SOAS III).
Among the early objectives in establishing the Arabic school at that time was to fulfil the aspiration of students in furthering their studies after having completed their religious studies.
To commemorate the historical milestone, the school yesterday held a thanksgiving ceremony.
The guest of honour was the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman.
Also present were his deputy, Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar as well as Deputy Minister of Education, Dato Seri Setia Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail.
The religious ceremony commenced with the recitation of Surah Yaasiin, Tahlil, Doa Arwah and followed by a Doa Selamat.
The Minister of Religious Affairs in his speech commended the achievements that have been made by SMALHB and hoped that the school will not only offer religious studies but also provide opportunity for the students to learn non-religious subjects as well.
By offering both religious and non-religious studies, the students will have the opportunity to earn two certificates at the same time – BGCE ‘O’ or ‘A’ level and Brunei Religious Studies Certificate (SPUB) and Brunei Higher Religious Studies Certificate (STPUB). This will provide the students with the ability to choose which higher education institution to choose.
However, pursuing studies at Al-Azhar University by taking subjects such as Usuluddin, Syariah or Arabic is the top most priority for the students as this is also in line with the ministry’s main objective, the minister explained.
“Not only that, the students will also have the opportunity to earn various scholarships such as the prestigious Sultan’s Scholar,” he said.
The minister was proud to note that many former students who had graduated from SMALHB are now holding prominent positions in the government sector such as deputy minister, permanent and deputy permanent secretaries, judges, directors, ambassadors and senior officials.
“At the same time we should be thankful as initially there was only one Arabic school in the country. Now, there are four Arabic schools in Brunei-Muara District, one in each of the other three districts totalling seven Arabic schools,” he said.
“With the recent agreement made by the ministry, there will be two more Arabic schools in the Brunei-Muara District. One will be built in Kampong Katok and another in Kampong Rimba,” the minister said.
The Acting Principal of SMALHB, Ustazah Hajah Norjainah binti Haji Buntar, earlier in her welcoming remarks said that since the recruitment of the first intake for SMALHB in 1967, the school has successfully taught more than 10,000 students.
During the past 50 years, the school has implemented three languages as the medium of learning and teaching, namely Malay, Arabic for religious subjects and English for general and academic subjects.
She also noted that the school has not only produced students who have later graduated from Al-Azhar University specialising in religious studies but also has been continuously generating students who are capable of taking up graduation courses in various fields such as medicine and engineering.
“The celebration was also aimed at appreciating the contributions and efforts that have been provided for the development of the school,” she said.
At present, SMALHB has 178 students in Pre-U2 and 202 students in Pre-U1. Since its establishment 50 years ago, SMALHB has been continuously striving to give the best in terms of religious education as aspired by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien.
Currently, the school is in the process of renovation and upgrading of several of its facilities such as Surau, science labs, school’s fields, air-conditioned classrooms, language lab and many more.
The cost of upgrading and renovation works is estimated to be to the tune of $2.8 million.
It is also the vision of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to make the country a Zikir Nation through Islamic education, right from the primary to tertiary level.