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Brunei
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Brunei
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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    Brunei’s adult literacy rate drops

    Wani Roslan

    The adult literacy rate for Brunei in 2015 was 97.6 per cent, the highest in ASEAN, but then dropped to 96.6 per cent the following year.

    Singapore now leads the adult literacy rate in the region, at 97 per cent.

    In the PISA-based Test for Schools implemented by the Brunei Government in late 2016 for 15-year-old students across the country, it was found that out of the 2,616 students who took the test, only less than one per cent were proficient at the highest levels of reading, compared with 18 per cent of the students in Singapore, the highest-scoring country in PISA 2015.

    “To add this, 63 per cent of students in Brunei Darussalam do not reach the baseline level of proficiency in reading, compared with nine per cent in Hong Kong in PISA 2015,” said Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari, who was the guest of honour at the Thought Festival held at the Collective Makerspace in Kampong Lambak ‘B’ yesterday.

    Citing low book ownership among the general population, she said, “There is a lack of interest in serious reading, and books are not considered a priority in households.

    “With over 35,000 students in secondary year, these students are at a crucial stage to receive the best form of education and exposure to prepare them for adult life.”

    Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa disclosed that the Brunei Government has taken initiatives to improve literacy levels and quality of teaching for children, which includes the distribution of Early Literacy packs with the joint collaboration of various ministries.

    Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari speaks at the event. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

    “This is an effort to widen the parents’ outlook and make them aware about the importance of reading from an early age. The Early Literacy Pack trains infants to recognise the alphabet and numbers, and prepares them to be knowledgeable and informed at an earlier age,” she added.

    She also mentioned several other initiatives such as the Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Programme (LNCP) introduced in 2017, the establishment of the Literacy and Intervention Programme known as Baca Tia in 2018, the Brunei Book Fair and Carnival, and the Ministry of Education (MoE)’s National Reading Campaign.

    Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa emphasised, “We need to equip children with the right tools and mindsets to become future-ready youth, who are mentally and physically prepared to face future challenges. This is by developing 21st Century competencies among students and building resilience in their character.

    “This is where innovative methods of teaching need to be introduced in the classroom, either by the teachers themselves, or by collaboration with existing non-profit organisations which share the common goal of providing a learning environment that is conducive, interesting and engaging, but most importantly to develop the skills to be productive in today’s society.” Aimed at promoting literacy and critical thinking among the public, the one-day festival showcased various types of literacy through games, in addition to holding talks, workshops, reading clubs and dialogues with some of Brunei’s social influencers.

    Among the invited speakers were author and adjunct professor at Universiti Brunei Darussalam Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos; Dean of Mahakarya Institute of Arts Asia Dr Alex Fischer; representatives from Takaful Brunei Abdul Khairul bin Abdul Karim and Mohammad Faliq bin Haji Mohd Johari; BruHaHa comedian Khai Anwar; Feminist Book Club members Ain Bandial and Dr Kathrina Mohd Daud; Bryant Leong from Surviving Monday Records; and Alex Norris from Expression Music.

    Initiated by one of the four groups in the Young Executive Programme Cohort-4 (YEP-4), the project also involved the participation of volunteers from the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), together with university students and fresh graduates.

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