WITH education being an integral part in the development of a modern society and its importance stressed in Islam as mentioned in the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) hadith that seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim, the Brunei Education Ministry has made it its mission to ensure that all children of schooling age are provided with access to education.
With the support of local legislation in 2007, which requires children from the age of six to compulsorily attend school either through the means of government or private schooling, the ministry has taken upon itself to ensure that these laws remain relevant even eight years on.
The initial responsibility of a child’s education falls onto whoever plays the role of the caring adult in his/her life. Yet there is evidence of parents and guardians who still do not regularly send their children to primary school.
There are various reasons for this phenomenon, but neglect is often the case. There is also a possibility that the adults themselves do not value or understand what education is all about and what difference it makes to one’s life.
Although conditions vary from different family backgrounds, when parents or guardians of children do not uphold that responsibility, there will be consequences that can prove to be harmful. It isn’t even about breaking the law anymore, but the ultimate suffering that the child will have when circumstances prevent them from getting a basic education.
We conclude that these missed opportunities have a harmful effect on the child’s self-growth and development. This is due to the often overlooked factor that school is not just about academic opportunity, but also a building foundation for a child to be self-aware and liberate themselves as individuals.
In primary school, this is where they first find out who they are, what they like and where they want to be. They discover their strengths, weaknesses and socially interact with those on a similar panel in life, which are other children who would be their classmates and friends.
Primary school children are at a stage where they are easily impressionable and their learning ability is at its highest peak. Their minds are impartial but vulnerable at the same time. We consider the aspect of perspective and remind ourselves that children are not little adults. The child’s viewpoint of the world around them must be necessarily secure as they often do not have the developed emotional capacity to contend with difficulties.
This is what common sense tells us. That a good and productive learning environment is essential for any growing child. Regardless of how a child is brought up, backgrounds do not interfere with this simple fact; children need an education in an environment where they can grow intellectually and individually. Schools today have worked hard to introduce various teaching and learning initiatives to enhance the child’s learning experience.
It is a travesty when the adults in charge aren’t even aware of this component of reality in a child’s life, or that they are aware but simply do not care. As an adult, when you deny your child a gateway to better opportunities through education, you yourself would never see liberation.
At the end of the day, it isn’t even about you, but what is best for the child is completely dependent on you. If you were to consider them first, it would overall be better for everyone’s future.
When looking into the social factors that affect these absentees, poverty can be a severe one. There are issues with transport, school necessities (stationery, textbooks, uniforms) and having the financial means altogether to support a child’s livelihood.
The reality is a grim one and school can be viewed more as a burden rather than a benefit. Thus education welfare facilities have been introduced like Miftah An-Najaah at the Ministry of Education to repose this condition that affects a certain fraction of the country’s population.
The catchment area system for government primary schools also enables that no school be too far for any child, so what can’t be done on wheels can be done on foot, provided that there is adult supervision to ensure a safe journey to school. There are even programme units conducted (ie UMAT – “Untuk Mu Amalan Terpuji”) that allows the opportunity for primary children to explore and discover beyond their means. As for the adults, parenting workshops do get conducted that initiate those who need it and want to make more effort for their children. Nobody is left in the dark and every effort made has its significance.
Another significant factor in tackling these issues is to remember that nobody is to blame but everybody is involved in making them better. Any growing child deserves an opportunity at life. A life of liberation where they become someone valuable for their nation and can utilise themselves for the overall good of those they love and the things that they are passionate about.
Going back to the understanding of how education is crucial for one’s development, social mobility and the capacity to contribute to his/her society and nation, the role of educators and schools can never be understated. No nation can afford to have its people illiterate or with limited education.
It is therefore important for us to realise the value of education. Apart from taking interest in their education and looking at ways on how one can support children’s learning beyond the classroom, a starting point is for us to make effort in ensuring our children attend school regularly.
Everything begins from a basic point and this is why primary education is crucial. Reflecting upon the fact that it is a tender point in a child’s life, there can be no denied opportunity for them to go further. Consider them to be a little sapling, dependent on the elements around them to grow, such as good soil, regular water and loving sunshine.
As adults, we are those elements and we can make all the difference if only we have faith that it can be done and the continuing resources to make it so. Simply ask yourself, which element are you in making the sapling soar?