It is crucial that Brunei schools are supported with valid and reliable data and information derived from quality assessments and credible research to make effective decisions in the best interest of the students.
Minister of Education Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh highlighted this in her opening speech at the 2nd Education Specialists Seminar opening ceremony yesterday.
“The seminar is taking place at a time when education is still facing disruptions globally brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Sultanate has just moved past the Early Endemic Phase and is gearing towards recovery.
“New normal with the commencement of face-to-face school sessions for all levels started last month after months of uncertainty, balancing mitigation on potential benefits of different teaching and learning methods,” said the minister.
Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah applauded the efforts of all teachers, for continuing their pursuit in ensuring the teaching and learning processes continue despite challenges. She added that as a consolation, COVID-19 has forced creativity in using technologies in education.
The face-to-face and online sessions this year aim to ensure accessibility with more than just blended teaching and learning approach, while “the post pandemic environment actually offers opportunities for transformation”.
Sharing on the ASEAN Ministers of Education meeting in March, the minister said three themes were discussed – learning loss and accelerated learning; access to education; and building education system resilience. “However one underlying element linking all these themes is assessment and research,” said Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah.
“The seminar’s theme ‘Contemporary Specialisation in Educational Practices towards Education Excellence’ and the sub-theme focussing on assessment and research development reflects the critical aspect focussed on the future, by building strong foundations in the journey towards success.
“We must seize this opportunity today to strengthen, accelerate and increase our capacity in the areas of research among educators and highlighting the importance of data in improving assessment strategies,” said the minister.
She expressed hope that educators and head of departments will find the contents of the keynote address insightful in spearheading new initiatives to improve existing research and assessment practices.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were already caught up in Industrial Revolution 4.0. We saw industries and its people, their livelihoods and lifestyles dramatically transformed by development in info-communication and technology. With or without our realisation, our schools, teachers and students, were affected as well.”
Increasingly, she added, students do not rely solely on their teachers or schools for knowledge or information as they have Google, YouTube, and more “hence it is now imperative that we acknowledge schools and teachers are all facilitators of learning; responsible for helping students reach their fullest potential”.
However, although students may have access to information from the Internet, they still need encouragement, guidance, inter-personal and critical thinking skills to use the information they find and for these, they need well-informed, knowledgeable and competent mentor – like teachers said the minister.
The exercise to measure learning loss post-pandemic is another of the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) efforts for assessment and research in education besides the seminar.
“Before even our schools re-opened, we understood the schools’ anxiety to make up for loss time. Hence, the Student Learning Survey (SLS) was designed and developed to support teachers in gauging students’ knowledge and abilities,” said Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah.
She added that it was the first time the MoE was able to provide an easy-to-use and immediately reporting tool for all teachers. The SLS is a game-changing assessment where it is able to provide more information on student learning with better precision and potential to impact teaching and learning strategies for all levels, from the classroom right up to the system level.
She also expressed hope that the seminar will be an excellent avenue to foster collaboration and share best practices on innovative approaches in education, particularly serving as a platform for all participants to build a professional network and that the respective departments take the opportunity to better understand stakeholders’ perspectives through systematic presentation and discourse.