The 12th Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) Convocation Ceremony celebrated the journey of success by each and every graduate.
In an interview with the Bulletin, Rabe’ah binti Haji Mohamad, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate in Religious Education, said COVID-19 was one of the challenging factors during her studies and research due to the implementation of working from home and not being encouraged to carry out any gatherings such as group studies.
“However, we utilised technology as an alternatives for us to continue our studies and teaching activities. As for my research, we conducted interviews via online platforms.
Despite the difficulties, as a student, we had to be wise in finding other alternatives to conduct our research.”
Asked on the important role of KUPU SB in Brunei Darussalam, Rabe’ah said it serves as a centre in producing quality teachers meeting the country’s demand in educating the younger generation.
At the same time, Rabe’ah explained that several efforts and initiatives have been undertaken by the government, particularly the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), to expand the role of religious education in the country.
“There are many Arabic and religious schools in the country like the establishment of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), and KUPU SB being upgraded to a university college. I hope that relevant agencies will enhance their efforts to improve the quality of teaching and learning of religious education so that private religious education would be on par with religious education under government sectors.
“What’s more important is both government and private sectors offering opportunities in learning religious education reaching all communities in the country.”
In conjunction with the recent Teacher’s Day celebration theme, ‘Quality Teachers Driving Educational Transformation’, Rabe’ah said to improve the quality of teachers in the country, they need to be active in carrying out research or studies and share their results at workshops. “This is important so that teachers will carry out discussions to improve the quality of teachers to meet Brunei Vision 2035.”
As one of the KUPU SB graduates, Rabe’ah has strived to improve the quality of her learning and teaching especially in her field of expertise, curriculum and the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) subject.
“I believe that better quality teachers will produce quality generations. They need to assimilate the value of amanah (trustworthiness) especially in knowledge and Insya Allah they will find success,” she added.
Suhaiella binti Haji Suhaili, a PhD graduate in Religious Education (Islamic Education) expressed that vast developments have been implemented in the country to further uphold religious education for all.
In terms of enhancing the quality of teachers, she said teachers must accept and adapt transformation in education and attain various teaching skills to polish their development such as through workshops or collaborations with several ministries.
Another graduate who shared a comment was an international student from Pattani, Thailand, Ruslenee Lateh, who graduated with a Master of Religious Education (Syariah).
She said that being a quality teacher not only depends on how much knowledge you have, but also attaining innovative and creative skills in mastering such knowledge according to time.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Adi Amni bin Morni, who graduated with a Bachelor in Religious Education (Islamic Education) with a minor in MIB education, said that with regards to being a quality teacher, having knowledge is the most important factor for every human being to determine their success.
In his opinion, what needs to be attained by teachers is to improve the quality and efficiency of their teachings and to not give up easily. At the same time, teachers also need to be equipped with the new century, where they need to be up-to-date by making students able to relate with what they are teaching and use fresh methods. They also need to embrace new changes in their teaching and learning sessions.
“As a graduate from KUPU SB, if I am allocated to a certain school or institution, I aim to bring something new for teaching and learning sessions, as one of my goals is to provide inspiration to the students that hard work will bring beneficial results.
“One of the biggest challenges for me during my academic years at KUPU SB was commuting daily from Brunei-Muara District to Kuala Belait. After I finished my class, I drove back to Kuala Belait. Sometimes I felt very tired, but Alhamdulillah, I was really determined to be successful.”
One of the key aspects to his success was managing his study time and completing assignments. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone had to undergo online learning and teaching. At that time, I was mentally exhausted as online classes was something new for most students and they needed to adapt to it,” he explained.
“My advice for those still studying at KUPU SB, it is okay to feel tired but never give up.
Instead, take a break and once you are okay, continue with the assignment and task that have been given and do not do your assignment at last minute.”
Siti Nursabrina Zahirah binti Abdullah, who graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Religious Education, said the importance of religious education is what has been set back in the 1959 Constitution, which made Islam as the Sultanate’s official religion, and MIB as the philosophy.
For her, religious education is not only a way to prevent negative influences (annasir) in the country, but is also important in shaping the people to become holistic khalifah with best akhlak.
“The building of holistic citizens has also been set in our National Education Philosophy.
Mastering both aspects of ilmu (the religious and general education) is needed to bring about the truths about human, universe and Allah the Almighty.” As of now, there are only a few Muslim scholars who actively contribute outside the sphere of Islamic subjects.
“Thus, having religious education along or integrated into science education might bring a new perspective on how some things are perceived.
“Although KUPU SB in comparison to other higher education institutions is more religion-oriented, the ilmu that we have learnt doesn’t only cover religious subjects we know such as Fiqh and Tauhid. Rather, we learnt on how to integrate our teachings regardless of the subjects we teach with Islamic values.
“Not only have we learnt the usual pedagogy, but we also learnt about psychology, school management and technology in Islamic education. We can see that KUPU SB is up-to-date with how the world is currently demanding and trying to equip these future teachers to integrate Islamic values into their teaching, since every single piece of knowledge comes from Allah the Almighty.
“As a history teacher, I make sure that the knowledge I deliver becomes something that the students can use in their daily life and makes them think about the events critically and relate to current issues. “At the same time, my aim is also to create fun and engaging activities which can equip students with life and social skills that they can utilise outside the school hours, since another aim of education is to stimulate life-long learning in each individual and not only for the purpose of passing exams,” she shared.
“The journey I had during those times might be shared by some of my colleagues who were and still are doing their diploma at KUPU SB,” she continued. “As a student at KUPU SB and also a full-time teacher at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Girls Arabic Religious Secondary School (SUAMPRIPAHS), I had to divide my time between studying and work, especially during the pandemic where there were even more tasks to do and sudden changes that teachers had to adapt to very quickly.”
She noted that the requirement to learn through online platforms meant that there was less movement and the juggling between study and work could be done in a slightly easier way than it would have been.
“For example, I was teaching online between 8-9am then having my KUPU SB classes online between 9-10am and continue teaching again at 10am. I won’t say it was easy but with the support from fellow colleagues, lecturers, the administration at my workplace and my family, Alhamdulillah, I managed to finish this diploma within the allocated time.
“Furthermore, the experience and ilmu I gained during those times have helped me tremendously, especially in the aspect of improving my teaching. Seeing the positive impacts it has on the way I teach, my confidence, the class environment and students’ engagements have pushed me to do the best,” she added.