| Azlan Othman |
HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday drew attention to the overall quality and stability of the building structure at the newly opened Rimba Arabic School in Gadong.
“There are two authorities involved – the first in the construction and completion of the building which is under the Ministry of Development, while the second has the authority to own or take up residence in the building upon its completion,” said His Majesty.
“The Ministry of Development wants the building to be completed quickly and handed over to the owner. But it depends on whether the building owner is willing to accept it, or otherwise. They still have the right to analyse the building, as to whether it is acceptable or otherwise.
“I would like to remind all relevant parties that no building should ever be constructed without conducting a thorough study beforehand. Who else gave the mandate to supervise, or the responsibility to supervise the project, if not us? I am convinced that it is owing to the weakness of such supervision that leads to the shortcomings or deficiencies in government buildings such as mosques, schools and so on.”
His Majesty also expressed concern over the surau (prayer hall) at the school, and called for the construction of another one to promote the school’s prestige.
Earlier, the monarch commented on the enrolment process in Arabic schools, compared to more conventional schools.
“The enrolment in Arabic schools is made through a selection assessment; only those who succeed will be eligible for entrance, while those who fail to gain entry will pursue their education at conventional or public schools without any assessment,” said His Majesty.
“This puts Arabic schools on a level above the rest. In terms of learning, Arabic schools teach more subjects compared to conventional or public schools, and they offer two streams – religious and conventional – which are not found in other schools.
“This means that students at Arabic schools have an advantage in terms of learning. Many may not realise this, apart from parents and the relevant parties superintending Arabic school education. When there was encouragement and offers for the students to move from Arabic schools to a more conventional or public education stream, I was personally very surprised with such a trend. Such migration to a conventional or public school is a backward, not a forward move.
“To date, I have yet to see a thorough study being made on trends that encourage or proffer such migrations – on the good and the bad, or the gains and the losses. Such trends are becoming an annual routine.”
His Majesty also described Arabic school education as a “pillar for this world and in the hereafter. Hence, there is a need for the administration to be perfect, particularly in terms of comfort and safety, where the latter is paramount and should not be compromised.”
During the visit, His Majesty inspected the multi-purpose hall and interacted with the students. The monarch also toured the school canteen and viewed its cleanliness.
Later, His Majesty held a closed door session with the school teachers.
The new Arabic school began the academic year of 2019 with around 1,700 students, 150 teachers and 16 staff members.
The school accommodates male students from Year 5 to Year 11, and this year, it has witnessed an enrolment of 293 Year 5 students.
The school premises are equipped with a science laboratory, hostel and library. Located on a 20-hectare site, it was constructed under the 10th National Development Plan and cost around BND48 million.
Following the visit to the school, His Majesty made a visit to the Lambak Religious School which is located at Jalan Bedil and still under construction.