CHILDREN need to be empowered to change their own future as well as that of their family and country, and educators have that power to change children’s future in the 21st century.
This was highlighted by Sir Michael Barber, a British educationist and Chief Education Advisor to Pearson PLC during his keynote speech at the 2015 School Leadership Forum hosted by the Ministry of Education (MoE) yesterday at the International Convention Centre.
Referring to two Mc Kinsey Reports and his extensive experience on the education system in many countries, Sir Michael Barber shared a nine-cell table of what makes a great education system, a press release from the MoE said.
Covering on themes of standards and accountability; human capital and, structure and organisation, he stressed that these characteristics are inter-related for instance, on how autonomy in schools will demand greater accountability. Such inter relatedness entails the need to work on all aspects in the nine-cell table to ensure quality education in a great education system. Sir Michael also focused on the importance of globally benchmarked standards and the need to have no child behind. As another emphasis to inter-related efforts, he mentioned that highest standards from schools will demand schools to continuously develop their teachers.
Also in his focus was the importance in recruiting the right people and their training as well as continuous development of pedagogical skills. Sir Michael also underscored the importance of school leadership in excelling school performance. He noted the impact that leaders can make in driving excellence amongst teachers as educators have significant impact to the nation, “We need to make teaching exciting as it impacts on inventing the future of Brunei.” Also in focus were the effective functioning of central departments (of education); the capacity to manage change and engage communities; as well as operations and budgets devolved to school.
Referring to Brunei Darussalam’s context, Sir Michael Barber also raised that there is a need to realise that oil may not be the main economic generator in children’s future. He went on to say, “We cannot disappoint our children. Who is to say how much the world will change. The children expects us to deliver the education to ensure their future.” He therefore commended the Ministry of Education’s effort in strengthening human capacity through various efforts to raising achievements in education.
On the MoE’s target of having 90 per cent of pupils achieving grades A to C by 2017, Sir Michael Barber noted how this is also a minimum required for the world children will live in. He went on to explain that in order to ensure a child excelling in Brunei can similarly be good around the world, there is a need to focus on using global benchmarks. Referring to his nine-cell table which also focused on global benchmarks, he believed that Brunei is going on the right track with initiatives to participate in PISA.
Sir Michael Barber also shared his view from visits to primary schools in Brunei, through which he mentioned impressive degree of commitment of many teachers in schools. Sir Michael noted, “They (teachers) have passion. That can be leveraged. Your belief will affect the outcome. I see a lot of energy and a lot of change. 2017 will give you a focus as it is not far away.”
Referring to importance of putting serious efforts right from now, Sir Michael reiterated on the essence of time, “Count the days. Set the standards”.
Sir Michael Barber also commended the openness of school leaders and officials from the MoE in yesterday’s discussion as well as Question & Answer session which involved live feed of questions from attendees of the forum. Noting on the use of technology, he said the benefits of one of MoE’s e-Hijrah project, INEIS, which among others allow real-time tracking of school attendance. He believed that this is a way forward which would support better management of schools and monitoring of progress.