| Zee Yusri |
AN OPENING ceremony was held yesterday for the launching of the new Kemuda Institute campus at Jalan Beribi, which was attended by Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong.
In his speech, the deputy minister highlighted the increasing number of students graduating secondary school and seeking placements to further their education. He pointed out that private institutions play a vital role in complementing the government’s efforts to provide education to the people.
“Indeed education plays a very important role in ensuring healthy and sustainable economic growth and development of a country, such as increasing levels of productivity and driving innovation,” he added.
He stated that numerous empirical studies around the world have shown this important link between various educational achievements and economic growth, innovativeness and productivity.
The deputy minister underlined that in the pursuit of quality education, learning institutions should not only try to achieve and maintain high passing rates but should also ensure that it incorporates learning modules into its curriculum; modules that are aimed at inculcating novel values such as responsibility and imparting life skills for developing a sustainable livelihood.
He shared that according to the Housing and Population Census 2011 there is a high level of youth unemployment due to low qualifications, while the local economy employs a sizeable number of foreign workers with different skills and qualifications. Information gathered from various job fairs held within Brunei show that there are plentiful job opportunities in the private sector.
“With that scenario, I believe private institutions like the Kemuda Institute can play an important role of inculcating the right attitude such as punctuality, honesty, responsibility and perservance, to better its students’ capabiltity to seize job opportunities in the private sector and be economically productive,” underscored the deputy minister.
He went on to discuss the various efforts taken to provide quality education in order to achieve one of Brunei’s National Vision 2035 goals – to have an educated, highly-skilled and accomplished people. These efforts take the form of building physical infrastructure and the provision of scholarships.
Besides the Ministry of Education, the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) has also initiated several scholarship and training schemes such as the Technical and Vocational Education Scholarship Scheme (BPTV).
This scheme helps locals pursue higher education and acquire skills after their ‘O’ levels and the scheme has also provided the youth with revenue to continue their studies and equip themselves with better academic qualifications and skills.
“The schemes, such as the BPTV scholarship in particular, has brought a tremendous impact to the education sector in the country. Through the scheme, we can see great developments in two areas. Firstly, the increase in the number of locals who have graduated with better qualifications and skills and secondly, the development of education institutions in the private sector,” the deputy minister said.
On this note, he revealed that there are more than 8,000 students who have been awarded scholarships studying in six local private institutions and that 2,997 students have completed their studies so far. He also shared that about 58 per cent of these students chose to further their studies to a higher level and that 73 per cent of the graduates proceeded to the next level.
Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali also urged school leavers to be grateful and grab the opportunity given to them to equip themselves with better qualifications and skills so that they can be independent and compete for employment opportunities in the future.
He highlighted the efforts to diversify the economy away from the oil and gas industry, citing the Monitor Group as having identified education services as a potential sector to be promoted so that Brunei can aspire to be an education hub for the region.
He revealed that currently, the gross value of private education services amounted to BND139 million in 2013 and out of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), private education services contributed 0.7 per cent in 2013. Based on that he called upon private education institutes to look into ways to develop and expand education services to contribute to Brunei’s GDP growth.
JPKE has currently spent approximately BND32 million on the BPTV scheme and in this context, he advised all private education institutions to grab this ‘windfall’ opportunity to take several actions including updating and upgrading their institutions; to attract and retain good effective teachers; to undertake market research on niche areas and how to attract regional and international students; and to introduce internationally-recognised qualifications in order to compete with regional institutions.
He concluded that he looks forward to Kemuda’s next stage of development in becoming an internationally-recognised private education institute with both domestic and foreign students.
“I hope this institute will also be proactive and innovative in introducing new courses that are in line with domestic, regional and global needs.”