Stakeholders’ commitment crucial to bring change
| Azaraimy HH |
A powerful combination of change forces has been bearing down on Brunei schools, colleges and the overall Ministry of Education.
The terms ‘SPN 21’ and ‘e-Hijrah’ are bringing about changes across the educational landscape in the country. But in order for these changes to take place, everyone in the ministry, including teachers, must be on the same page – on what these changes do and its impact, said Professor Chris Mullard, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Focus Consultancy Ltd, the United Kingdom.
There is no use coming up with a fancy mission statement and vision if there is no understanding and commitment towards making these changes among the stakeholders, he pointed out.
In explaining the changes about to happen at the Ministry of Education in general and at schools in particular, Awg Haji Suhaila bin Haji Abdul Karim, the Acting Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the Ministry of Education, provided an example: “In government schools, when students received their record books, the only thing that is very clear is the grades and the marks, but what is unclear is what these remarks mean.
“The remarks only say ‘Keep it up,’ ‘There is room for improvement’ and ‘Try harder,’ thus it does not really give you qualitative report. These are the things we are going to change,” he said.
Providing further example of the changes that is going to take place, Hj Suhaila said, “In the past, PSR was our public exam. So, what our teachers normally do in their monthly and termly assessments and revisions is drill the students about exam questions. At the end of the day, when these students reach a higher level, their understanding is superficial.
“So, what we are now changing is to ask teachers to do a school-based assessment and make sure it is all learning. So after each assessment, teachers must be clear what their students are good at and what they are weak at,” he said, adding that a paradigm shift requires culture change in our school system.
This change will not take place overnight, even with training exercises. Hj Suhaila said this will take time, and believes teachers are still grappling with this.
“They did it at the onset, but it then died down because the teachers are not used to it. That is why we have to revisit the schools and reemphasise these changes,” he said, reiterating that it requires a ‘cultural change.’
That is why the ministry is bringing together all levels of people at the ministry to participate in a discussion with people who are well-experienced in change management.
Professor Steve Grigg is well-experienced in change management in the British education scene and in other countries in Asean. Professor Grigg and Professor Mullard, both from Focus Consultancy, believe their job is primarily to listen to stakeholders on education system, and work with them to better understand what is needed.
“We are not here as a colonial force to enforce what is needed. We are here to bring our experience and to listen to the various people about the educational atmosphere in Brunei,” Professor Mullard explained.
Hj Suhaila also spoke about the role of technology in helping teachers not only in teaching methodologies, but also in their communication with other teachers – for example, in coming up with a solution to a particular problem that a student or teachers even in other schools may have experienced.
“When they are doing school-based assessments, we are bringing in new methodologies, which need to be adapted,” he said.
Realistically speaking, Hj Suhaila said some teachers might be better than others, and the techniques used by the good teachers need to be shared. In this way, good practices can become the norm.
Professor Grigg explained that for this sharing to work, people needs to be more open-minded towards adopting other ways of teaching.
There is no having this system in place if teachers are not open-minded, or are not buying into other people’s better way of teaching.