| Danial Norjidi |
PLANNING is under way for the development of a vocational and technical education “mega campus” institution that is targeted for completion in 2018.
The “mega campus” is the Institute of Brunei Technical Education, disclosed Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain bin Hj Hanafi, Permanent Secretary (Higher Education) at the Ministry of Education, during a second follow-up meeting for the Oil and Gas Sector Job Fair 2014 with members of the industry.
The Bulletin spoke with Dr Chin Wei Keh, Director of Technical Education, who said the Brunei Technical Education Transformation White Paper, introduced in July last year, proposes for the building of a major campus.
He said the project was still in a very early stage, and while he was unable to disclose where the Institute of Brunei Technical Education would be built, he mentioned it would be in the Brunei-Muara District.
“This campus is more towards building a holistic environment to train the students,” he said, sharing that it will be able to accommodate 4,000 students – 2,000 per intake for the one- to two-year programmes that will be offered.
“The campus will provide an authentic learning environment. We hope the industry will play a big role as well to help make it authentic,” he added.
“We are hoping to make the learning holistic for students and teach them life skills by building their confidence, communication and so on.
“It will utilise 21st Century learning spaces and will be up-to-date,” he said.
“There will be a lot of room for industry to collaborate with us to ensure that the training is as authentic as possible,” he said, adding that he hopes they can change the mindset of the public towards technical education and skilled professions.
The Institute of Brunei Technical Education, he shared, will offer some parts of the Energy Industry Competency Framework (EICF) programme and cater to all sorts of other industries aside from oil and gas.
Asked what will be happening to the existing vocational and technical institutions, he said there are already plans in place. “The Jefri Bolkiah Engineering College will be converted into the maritime academy, while Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College will be a satellite campus focused on aviation.”
Some of the other institutions will still be utilised for the expansion of education and training, upscaling and retraining. As for existing trainers and instructors, he said they are already working on closing their competency gaps so as to allow them to adapt.
“We are also in the process of getting a new scheme of service to recruit people with industry experience,” he said. “It’s in the pipeline, and is not approved yet, but we are trying to recruit people based on competency skills as opposed to qualifications.
“This is about professional skills and not just paper qualifications,” he added.
He also spoke on the technical education curriculum, explaining that the reasoning behind phasing out the older curriculum was based on feedback from the industry that the students did not meet the industry requirements.
As a result, the new curriculum is designed to produce locals who are industry-ready, with 70 per cent focus on practical and 30 per cent on theory.