| Haji Mohd Daud Abd Rahman |
BRUNEI recently marked the 24th Teachers’ Day celebration and 100 Years of Formal Education in Brunei Darussalam (1914-2014). I had the opportunity to speak with one of the veteran teachers who studied at Batu Lintang Training College (BLTC), Kuching and Brunei Malay Teachers College six decades ago.
In 1949, Brunei began sending prospective teachers for a two-year course training to the BLTC in Kuching. The first intake consisted of 10 students, and one of them was Cikgu Haji Md Yassin bin Haji Metassim (Dato Paduka Haji Md Yassin bin Haji Metassim). In 1954, the two-year course was changed to a three-year programme.
By 1955, there were 16 Bruneians studying full-time at the BLTC. Courses were conducted by experienced lecturers from the United Kingdom and Malaya.
The students stayed in dorms and had their meals at a dining hall. There were four Muslim cooks who prepared meals for all the students.
However, in April 1955, a controversy broke out at the BLTC as the principal, AG Smith, had decided to import pork for the non-Muslims studying at the college.
Muslim students, especially the Bruneian students, pleaded against the decision as it would cause more harm than good. AG Smith was adamant with his decision and did not change his mind. Eventually, the Bruneian students at the BLTC decided that if it carried on, they would return to Brunei.
The matter reached Brunei’s Education Office and officers were dispatched to the BLTC to sort the matter out. However, it was to no avail.
As a result, all Bruneians at the college were brought back to Brunei on board the MV Sultan, a Brunei Government ship. In Brunei, the students were sent to several schools to teach and some were given jobs in other departments.
In June 1955, the Superintendent of Education, Marsal bin Maun (Dato Seri Paduka Hj Marsal bin Maun), called the students for a meeting and informed that they were going to be sent back to Kuching to complete the year, and upon finishing they will return to Brunei to continue their education.
The students returned to Kuching in phases using ships via Labuan. Finally in early 1956, the 21 Bruneian students of BLTC returned to Brunei and started their course at the temporary building of the Brunei Malay Teachers College.
The building was located where the Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam Secondary School (SMJA) is located today.
Four lecturers were in-charge of educating Brunei’s future teachers – James Pearce, the principal and lecturer; Yusuf Muhammad from Johor; Mustapha Hj Tahir from Negeri Sembilan and Fishendom, the physical education teacher.
At the end of 1956, seven students received their Teaching Certificates.
They were the first batch of teachers produced by the Brunei Malay Teachers College.