AS A citizen of Brunei Darussalam, I am grateful to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for granting the education loan scheme as it’s an opportunity for students to pursue their study. This gives me a chance to continue my studies at a higher level and improve my possibilities in gaining successful employment. I am currently in my final semester, and I am aware that I need to make preparations to pursue my next level of education. I am considering both scholarship and the new education loan scheme as the fees are quite high and not all Bruneians can afford it.
It was clearly stated in His Majesty’s birthday titah that the “affordable education loan scheme” is for students who do not meet the government scholarship criteria. However, I notice that the terms and conditions to apply for the loan are quite similar to the scholarship criteria. Honestly, I do not understand the rationale behind this scheme.
Moreover, a high number of students fail to get the scholarship solely because they fail the mini multiple interview (MMI). It seems like the weighting of MMI and students’ grades are not well apportioned. It is even more disappointing that we cannot find any information on the criteria for evaluations. If the result of getting the scholarship very much depends on the MMI, then it is better for us to concentrate more on the interview instead. Even the government scholarship form states that meeting all the criteria and passing the interview do not guarantee students the scholarship. This may obviously give false hope to the applicants.
Apart from this issue on scholarship, I would like to raise another issue on the course offered within this country. Currently I am taking “Hospitality and Tourism” and I used to study travel and tourism at one of the well-known colleges in Brunei. Somehow, it seems like they do not see it as important for the economic growth of the country. To my disappointment, it is one of the courses that is not offered in the 2014/2015 scholarship form.
If the course is not contributing much to the country, then why is it offered at the lower level of education?
It was stated in the media that “Brunei has the lowest growth of tourist arrivals among its Asean peers, with figures barely passing 250,000 mark annually during most of the years between 2003 and 2012.
According to statistics from the ‘2013 Asean and Korea in Figures’ compiled by the Asean-Korea Centre, Brunei is the only country in the region which did not record any growth.
The annual report sourced its information from the Asean Tourism Database and Tourism Statistics from the Korea Tourism Organization.
This is enough proof that our course is important for the benefit of the country. Besides, if everyone were to take the same course, how can Brunei improve? From my perspective, the course that I am taking allows us to open up our own business, and this apparently is being encouraged by the government. This again helps to boost the economy.
To be frank, I am not only speaking for myself but also on behalf of the students who have taken the same course. But since our course is not seen as important, we have little chance to pass the scholarship criteria. Imagine if this happens to your children, how would you feel? Would this be fair to you?
I also read in the newspaper a few years ago that “The challenge now is to maintain or even raise the standard of living for Bruneians when the oil and gas reserves are depleted, conservatively estimated in about 30 years.“ Brunei needs other main source of income and the course that I am taking is listed as one of the main sources of income around the world. The problem to me as a student as well as a local citizen is, why is my course not listed as one of the preferred courses in the scholarship application? So what is the point of you offering the course and make us struggle and try hard to get good results but in the end, we have nowhere to go to pursue our studies at higher level as it is perceived as not important to the country.
So whom should we blame? Students who made the wrong choice? Or the MoE for listing the course as an option? If the course is not important, you should not even offer it in the first place.
I do understand it is not easy to plan the education system, but what the MoE is offering right now only burdens many Bruneian students.
I am aware that Vision 2035 is to enhance education as well to develop the local business in Brunei. The education strategy will prepare the nation’s youth for employment, taking into consideration the requirements of the changing economy. But how can we progress when the necessary information is not made available?
Brunei wants to keep “Kenali Negara Kitani (KNK)”, but then our course is not seen as important. How do you expect this to last long when you are discouraging us to pursue our course?
I have clarified with the MPK section at one of the education fairs about my course of study. They said they do acknowledge our courses “Hospitality and Tourism”, yet the MoE does not see our course as important. So I asked the MoE staff on how do we pursue our studies abroad to a higher level? It was very frustrating to hear the answer “we have no idea”. What is the rationality here? Are you actually expecting us to wait for a few more years for the course to be available in Brunei before we can continue our studies?
It is advisable for the MoE to not consider based on the course only. They should see the subjects within the course as well. There are human resources, marketing, event management, customer service, finance etc. Don’t these subjects equip us with wide knowledge and skills? Please think about this. From what I see, we do not get stuck within just one industry, but can apply our knowledge and skills in most industries.
Brunei needs major improvement when it comes to customer service. We have heard a lot of complaints on this matter, ie slow, unprofessional and impolite etc. I believe that this is mainly due to the lack of training and awareness on the importance of good customer service. The course that I am taking has made me see the level of poor service in Brunei compared to other countries.
I am even more concerned on the result of the scholarship that takes quite a while to process. It is because of this that scholarship students miss out their orientation and first few weeks of their classes. The scholarships are being offered for years but there is a lack of efficiency of the scholarship process. As students, we have the right to complain on this matter as this pertains to our future. Especially for UK applicants it takes 10-14 days to process the visa. It is stated that the MMI interview aims to speed things up but it doesn’t seem so. It is slower now compared to before.
I hope the MoE will take action to improve and take note that our course is important as well. To my disappointment, we are encouraged to change our major course after all these years of struggle. Obviously we are not happy to do something that is out of our expertise.
Last but not least, I wish for your kind consideration to reassess the scholarship conditions. I hope that the new scholarship form this year will be fair.
– Concerned student