Minister tells parents to consult schools on fees

Izah Azahari

In response to whether private school fees for the coming month could be waived or reduced, as students are not physically attending classes, Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman said that parents should consult the private schools in question.

He added that private schools need to pay salaries to their employees and teaching staff, with their source of funds being largely derived from school fees.

The minister hoped for both sides to come to an arrangement, “as the teachers are also working to prepare for their students’ continuous learning”.

“We hope there will be an understanding on this issue, before the situation would call for the Ministry of Education to intervene,” he added.

Speaking on the online survey conducted by the Ministry of Education (MoE) for students and teachers, the minister said that the data is currently being compiled, as it is an ongoing survey with many interesting findings that are still under analysis.

He said, “There are many initiatives to address the identified challenges, which will be shared by our ministry once the way forward has been well thought out.

“The Ministry of Education is working behind the scenes at the moment, with various activities involving several stakeholders such as Unified National Networks (UNN), the three telecommunication companies and regulators from the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI), in terms of online learning.

“A lot of the behind-the-scene efforts are being carried out now to lessen the burdens faced by parents, students and teachers alike. Hopefully, we will be able to issue a number of initiatives to further assist those involved.”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah also expressed his gratitude to several groups in ensuring that students continue their learning and teachers carry on teaching their students.

As the details of the survey cannot be revealed yet, the minister assured that the MoE, along with stakeholders, are working hard to determine elements, which include issues on access to devices and the Internet.

“We have figured out how to handle it, and it is hoped that strong cooperation from various parties can be achieved,” he said.

“This is also a way forward for the Ministry of Education, since we anticipated online learning as part of the continuous learning in the future. It was already part of the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan in the next year or two, but with the current COVID-19 situation, everything had to be brought forward and accelerated, requiring tremendous effort from various parties to implement.

“We are very appreciative of all the cooperation that we have been receiving from several agencies,” he added.