The Ministry of Education (MoE) announced a budget allocation of $695 million for 2018/19 fiscal year, with a focus on ensuring quality education and teacher development.

A total of $499 million is allocated for staff salaries, $196 million for recurring expenses and $13 million for development. This year’s budget is an increase of approximately $31 million from the previous financial year.

During a meeting of the Legislative Council on Tuesday, Education Minister YB Dato Paduka Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said the ministry will focus on improving the quality of education at all levels —  from primary through to higher education.

Education Minister YB Dato Hj Hamzah taking his oath during the opening of the Legislative Council on March 5, 2018. Photo: Rudolf Portillo

MoE will concentrate on four priority areas this year: 

The first focus will be strengthening the quality of school leaders through the Brunei Darussalam School Leadership Standard.

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“A total of 113 school leaders in primary schools nationwide have been evaluated based on this standard. The data showed that 58 percent of the school leaders achieved level 3 (effective leadership) and level 4 (strong leadership),” he added. The data will also be used as source of reference in monitoring and planning leaders capacity development programmes.”

The second focus will be strengthening the quality of teaching and learning for 21st century skill sets.

“This is done intensively through professional development programmes so that their capabilities can be improved, for example through the Brunei Darussalam Teacher Academy. In 2017, a total of 1,196 teachers, accounting for 18.3 per cent of the total number of primary and secondary teachers, participated in BDTA’s professional programmes,” said YB Dato Hj Hamzah.

The ministry will also continue to strengthen existing infrastructure to improve school environments. A total of $14.7 million is allocated for projects in 76 primary schools, 26 secondary schools, three sixth form centres and three technical education centres.

The minister added that the third focus is on implementing a “school-home link” between parents and schools to help insitutions monitor the students’ progress at home.

He said parents and guardians’ involvement in their children’s education needs to be improved.

From 2016 to 2017, 38 percent of parents participated in the activities organised by the Parent-Teacher Association, while 68% of parents attended discussions such as  parent-teacher meetings.

The fourth priority area is to enhance students’ literacy and numeracy skills through the Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Programme (LNCP).

Implemented in 2017, the LNCP focuses on three main areas: mentoring, guiding, and capacity-building for local teachers; and enhancing the skills of central office leaders.

A total of 60 international coaches have been deployed to 155 schools under Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs to support more than 700 local teachers under the programme.