A BND759 million budget has been allocated for the Ministry of Education’s expenditure for the financial year of 2021-2022 and another BND29 million for development expenditure. Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman announced this at the 17th Legislative Council session yesterday.
The minister in his remarks on the budget deliberations said, “The large allocation of budget clearly shows that education is a priority of the Government of 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 in producing high-quality human resources.
“The Ministry of Education will continue its efforts in providing holistic education to achieve full potential. The Ministry of Education will utilise the budget in accordance with priorities to bring the best impact.
“Education investment continues to yield increasingly positive results, especially when viewed in terms of the results of public examinations for primary and secondary schools under the Ministry of Education.”
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah shared the improvement in public examination results achieved by students in 2020.
“For Primary School Assessment (PSR) in 2020, 62.38 per cent or 2,157 candidates obtained Grades A to C in five academic subjects.
“As for the GCE ‘O’ Level results, 42.86 per cent or 1,861 candidates obtained at least five ‘O’ levels in 2020, which is an increase of 5.52 per cent from the previous year,” he said.
GCE ‘A’ Level examination results have shown a 6.99-per-cent increase which is 82.55 per cent or 1,154 candidates obtained at least three ‘A’ Levels compared to the previous year which is 75.56 per cent.
The total percentage of ‘A’ Level students obtaining Grades A-C in three subjects has shown an increase of 80.92 per cent in 2020 compared to 67.87 per cent the previous year.
Meanwhile, the percentage of ‘A’ level students with tariff points exceeding 240 points has also increased to 51.82 per cent as compared to 37.15 per cent in 2019, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah said.
The minister also noted that achievements at public examinations are due to the hard work of teachers, school leaders, parents and staff of the Ministry of Education, especially through implementing strategic initiatives for primary and secondary education.
He added, “The increase in professional development of teachers in each education cluster during recent years is evident that teachers are very mindful of the quality of their teaching and the results can be seen through the increasing performance of students in public examinations at the national and international level.”
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah also shared some of the major achievements and recognitions received by higher education institutions in the country.
He highlighted that Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) for the first time has broken into the Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings chart at 401-500 in 2020 and this year has risen to 350- 400 worldwide.
Meanwhile, UBD also continued its excellence in the QS World University Rankings, where its position jumped to 254th place worldwide in 2021.
“Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) also improved its ranking in QS World University Rankings 2021 to the 350th position,” the minister said.
Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) was given the Global Islamic Finance Award 2020 (GIFA 2020) in the GIFA Market Leadership Award category; this enables the university to be a driver for greater efforts in contributing to the development of Islamic banking and finance in the country, he said.
All achievements are of international recognition on the capabilities of local universities in terms of academics, research, employer reputation, student ratio and so on, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah said.
For the vocational and technical education level, the minister said admissions to Politeknik Brunei (PB) and Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) are growing more competitive each year.
The employment rate 18 months following graduation of PB and IBTE Cohort 2018 was around 70 per cent. This was a result of offering courses and curriculum in line with the needs of the industry and the job market through close collaboration with stakeholders, especially the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), he said.
The minister said with the support of His Majesty, the efforts to raise the skills and marketability of students at higher education institutions can double again.
He said there are still efforts that need to be made to produce a high-quality education system that includes excellent human resources, equal access to education and close cooperation with stakeholders in the development of teaching and learning.
The minister outlined initiatives that will be implemented in the financial year 2021-2022, especially the transformation of the existing human resources towards a performance-based culture under the Strategic Objective I of the Ministry of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
He elaborated, “Efforts to increase skills and capacity through professional development of the teaching force; officer and staff as well as officers at the Ministry of Education are divided into three sections – professional development programme for school leaders and teaching force, programme to improve the skills and competency levels of B2 officers and above (non-teaching staff) at the Ministry of Education; and education expert development programme and the improvement and updating of the teaching staff recruitment process through the immersion and apprenticeship programme.
“Some of the initiatives outlined are in line with the priorities of the budget’s theme of the financial year 2021-2022 which is to increase national productivity and generate competent and employable human resources.
“Meanwhile, among the key initiatives that will be implemented in the financial year 2021-2022 under Strategic Objective II to provide equal and equitable access to quality education are improving the quality of asset maintenance in educational institutions, including institutions of higher learning, by upgrading buildings and implementing comprehensive maintenance through the Facilities Management Project, maintenance and upgrading of network infrastructure for schools and departments, providing computer rental for underprivileged students to assist in online learning, improving the rental bus and boat transportation services, continuing the implementation of the School Nutrition Plan (RPS), Harapan Programme and Anak Harapan Programme, reviewing the core subjects such as English Language and Mathematics with existing standards, updating and creating curriculum for financial literacy (primary, secondary and adult) and digital literacy, and updating the learning support programme for students needing it.”
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah said several initiatives are in line with the priority under theme of the budget for the financial year 2021-2022, namely the provision of sustainable and empowering facilities and infrastructure for public welfare and economic development.
Meanwhile under Strategic Objective III, which is to increase accountability sharing with stakeholders in the development of teaching and learning, among the key initiatives to be implemented in financial year 2021-2022 is to increase bilateral relations between the Ministry of Education and overseas educational institutions, as well as relations with regional and international organisations.