| Siti Hajar |
WITH the development of human resources high on the agenda as the country explores options away from the oil and gas industry, the country’s education system has been handed down the important task in ensuring that local educational programmes are suited to meet the ever-changing demands of the 21st century.
As part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts in ensuring that school qualifications are kept, and remain, relevant and responsive in an environment that has become challenging even at the level of higher education, the ministry said yesterday that change within the technical and vocational education sphere is one that aims to recognise the diversity of local talent and values without stifling their educational progress whilst providing them with the opportunity to be part of the nation’s economic growth.
Under this new initiative that will provide students with options following their secondary school years, it was explained that technical education will be offered by both the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) and Politeknik Brunei (PB), which will respectively offer its own certificates as well as programmes in this particular field.
The former, IBTE, will award certificates at three levels of training, namely ‘Industrial Skills Qualification’, or ISQ (NQF – Level 2) for Form 3 from the pre-SPN21 system or Year 9 leavers under SPN21, National Technical Education Certificate, or NTec (NQF – Level 3) for those who have completed Year 11 secondary education though without necessarily having any ‘O’ Level credits and Higher National Technical Certificate, or HNTec (NQF – Level 4), which requires a minimum of three ‘O’ Levels in relevant subjects.
Under PB’s programmes that offer diploma equivalent to Higher National Diploma (NQF – Level 5) over three years, entry into the institute requires a minimum of five relevant ‘O’ Level subjects and must have obtained 5-26 points from the relevant five ‘O’ Level subjects. Entry into the Diploma of Health Science (NQF – Level 4) requires a minimum of four ‘O’ Level credits in the relevant Science subjects. It was also explained that progression from HNTec is also possible based on merit performances.
These changes, it was explained, involved close collaboration with industries by producing skilled and competitive workforce who are entrepreneurial, possess the appropriate qualifications, industry-accredited skills and those who are of professional standards with high employability.
“Through this initiative, greater opportunity will be available for post-secondary school students who are skilled and are technically inclined to pursue technical and vocational education and training whilst obtaining gainful employment in the skills and technical sectors,” said the ministry in a statement.
The introduction of these technical and vocational qualifications is a product of dialogue sessions and a series of engagement with stakeholders in the private sector and the government across the board including members of the legislative committee, grassroot leaders and those from the private sector.
The general consensus is that this transformation is seen as more responsive and demand-driven with stakeholders voicing their commitment to support this national agenda as per His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s 2013 New Year titah that urged for a re-evaluation of technical and vocational education by way of contributing to the needs of the industry and local job market.
At present, technical education is still within its transition phase and at this stage, it was explained that IBTE still offers the two-year BDTVEC Diploma (NQF – Level 4), which will be phased out soon and replaced by the HNTec programmes.
Similarly, a number of the Skill Certificate Programmes are still on offer for the final intake and will eventually be replaced by NTec Programmes next year.
At PB, the two-year Advaced Diploma programmes have been phased out and will be replaced by the three-year diploma programmes as of July this year.
For more information, the public is encouraged to visit websites www.ibte.edu.bn and www.pb.edu.bn.