Brunei stands third among ASEAN in PISA

Izah Azahari

The overall results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 for 79 participating countries and economies have placed Brunei in the 60th place for Reading, 51st place for Mathematics and 50th for Science.

This was announced by Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the Ministry of Education (MoE) Dr Shamsiah Zuraini Kanchanawati binti Haji Tajuddin, in her capacity as a member of the PISA Governing Board, during a press conference yesterday.

The press conference was held by the MoE to announce the results of PISA 2018, as released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in which Brunei Darussalam ranked third in all domains among the participating ASEAN member countries.

The permanent secretary explained that PISA has provided several indicators to create a snapshot of the competencies in reading, mathematics and science among the countries’ 15-year-olds, in addition to generating the index of Economic, Social and Cultural Status (ESCS) which allows for the measurement of equity in education and the students’ well-being.

“This helps to evaluate our progress towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – SDG4- to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all,” she said.

This is the first time that Brunei Darussalam has participated in the comparative international large-scale research study, with a sample of 600,000 students representing 32 million 15-year-olds.

In Brunei, 6,828 students across 55 secondary schools participated in the study, one of the highest coverage in PISA.

In accordance with the criteria of the assessment, the permanent secretary said that the medium of instruction in schools determines the language of assessment.

Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the MoE Dr Shamsiah Zuraini Kanchanawati binti Haji Tajuddin at the press conference. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

“Therefore, Brunei is one of the only three ASEAN member countries which administered the study in the English Language,” she said.

She revealed that analysis found a good variation of the ESCS index both within and between Brunei schools, which means that despite different individual social-economic statuses, all students have good access to schools. “Furthermore, both boys and girls are almost equally represented in all of the schools, with girls performing better than the boys in all three domains.

“Two findings from the analysis on equity in education and the students’ well-being have been highlighted. First, the majority of our students are generally motivated to learn and do expect to go on to tertiary education.

“Second, it was indicated that given the right learning environment in our schools, our students can perform much better and have the potential to succeed in their future careers.”

The permanent secretary explained that apart from PISA, the MoE in its mission to ‘Deliver Holistic Education to Achieve Fullest Potential for All’, also utilises data and information from many different aspects of education, such as the basic skills of Literacy, Numeracy and ICT. “However, there are other aspects of education that form the basis for 21st Century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, communication, information literacy, citizenship, learning to learn and metacognition,” she said.

She also noted what was once said by the Director for Education and Skills of the OECD Andreas Schleicher, “that PISA reveals that teachers’ support matters for students’ learning, and that policymakers need to provide educators with support, encouragement and necessary resources, so that they can effectively help students to reach their full potential”.

With this, she announced that the MoE would continue its efforts to support schools and teachers in strengthening the students’ knowledge and skills, which is aligned to its Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

“Spearheading these strategic actions are the MoE’s Primary and Secondary Education Initiatives, which will be continuously improved, with emphasis on the teachers’ and school leaders’ professional development,” she said.

“In addition, there will be efforts in this plan to embed and further support technology in education, aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics).”

“Ultimately, the Plan maps these efforts with the overall aim of building a generation that is not only highly educated, skilful and tech-savvy, but also one that aims to develop the young into global citizens with a unique Bruneian identity, noble in character, highly resilient with strong spiritual values and adhering to the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy.

“In collaboration with various stakeholders, the MoE aims to ensure equity in education by supporting groups of students in need. Specifically through its recently launched Facilities Management project, there will be improved efforts for a supportive and safe teaching-learning environment in all educational institutions.”

The permanent secretary also conveyed a message from Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman, who thanked the teachers, school leaders and parents for making the MoE’s progress in education possible.

Also present during the conference were Deputy Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the MoE Aliuddin bin Haji Abdul Rahman in his capacity as the Assistant PISA Governing Board; and the Director of Planning, Development and Research at the MoE Dr Hazri bin Haji Kiple, in his capacity as the National Project Manager.