BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Education is expected to spend a portion of its proposed budget of over $735 million on improving school infrastructure and developing an education data management system in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

Minister of Education YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said part of the proposed budget will be spent on strengthening the ministry’s engagement with its stakeholders, transforming its human resources and providing equal and fair access.

On the sixth day of the 2019 Legislative Council session, he said the three strategic objectives would enable the ministry to lead the development of the next generation who will be ready to deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The budget allocation represents a five percent increase compared to the previous financial year.

A total of $510 million will be spent on staff salaries while $224 million has been allocated for recurring expenses.

An additional $19 million has been allocated for the ministry’s development fund. 

Upgrading school infrastructure

YB Dato Hj Hamazah said seven main projects will be implemented in the new financial year.

One of the projects is to review the curriculum with a specific focus on developing literacy standards for the following subjects: Malay language, Science, Digital and Finance to respond to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The ministry will also implement a national assessment, which tracks primary and secondary students’ abilities in writing, numeracy and science.

Intervention programmes will be put in place based on the assessment findings, he added.

The ministry will also expand its Centre of Excellence programme for special needs students and improve ICT connectivity in schools.

YB Dato Hj Hamzah said several projects will be implemented under the National Development Plan 2019/2020, including improving school infrastructure.

This year will also see the upgrading of the national education management system as well as offering technical and vocational education scholarships.

He said there are plans to rebuild Temburong’s only secondary school, Sultan Hassan Temburong Secondary School, but did not provide details.

Six schools in Brunei-Muara district will be expanded with new buildings. The schools are Menglait Secondary School, Sultan Abdul Mubin Sungai Besar Primary School, Bendahara Sakam Primary School in Bunut, Batu Marang Religious School, Orang Kaya Setia Bakti Primary School in Kilanas and Sengkurong Primary School.

New data management system

The ministry will be developing a comprehensive education data management system in line with the development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution through the use of big data and business intelligence. This is to facilitate the use of data for schools, students and teachers, said the minister.

Data management is part of the ministry’s objectives to strengthen engagement with internal and external stakeholders by revising existing structural governance processes for more effective implementation and monitoring.

“Data will be collected, compiled, analysed and visualised for evidence-based action and policy review.

“It is hoped that the national education system will be provided with seamless, integrated and real time data on the education [system],” he added.

Human resources transformation

YB Dato Hj Hamzah said a clear succession plan strategy will be formulated and implemented by identifying and opening job opportunities with hiring and retention strategies based on competence.

The ministry will also devise and implement a human resource development strategy at all levels of education, he added.

The programmes include developing competency and assessment framework for teachers and school leaders in primary, secondary level, as well as in special needs education, technical and vocational education.

Teachers’ recruitment and selection will also be reviewed, while efforts will be done to accelerate the process of assigning teachers to schools.