BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Year-end examinations will be postponed or cancelled, the education ministry (MoE) announced Tuesday, as it grapples with the thousands of students, teachers and parents who have had to shift to online classes amid Brunei’s worst coronavirus outbreak

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, education minister YB Dato Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said MoE will notify students of the decision at a later date.

Meanwhile, Primary School Assessment exams have been postponed from October 14 to November 16, while the fate of IGCSE, O and A Level exams is still under discussion with international examination bodies. 

Schools will go back to online learning when the school term starts on Wednesday, after in-person classes were suspended on August 9.

Online learning will apply to all schools under the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs, as well as international schools.

YB Dato Hj Hamzah said MoE will use social media and communication apps to disseminate learning materials to students with limited access to the internet and devices.

State broadcaster Radio Televisyen Brunei will also air educational programmes to provide additional learning support. The shows will be broadcasted on school days and with the schedule available on MoE’s social media pages. 

Special needs students face learning deficit

Online learning still poses a challenge for special needs students, most of whom need customised learning resources.

Six hundred special needs students are at risk of falling behind as long as COVID restrictions continue.

“At the moment this is a challenge, especially for special education that requires a lot of hands-on learning,” said YB Dato Hj Hamzah.

“The situation [in Brunei] at the moment doesn’t allow for this, so it’s not being carried out.”

He added: “Once the situation allows, they will be given enhanced interaction and the required learning support so that we can cover whatever learning deficit they face.”

During the press conference, the minister shared that 60 percent of Brunei’s 6,000 teachers have been vaccinated in the past two months.

Vaccination of teachers has taken on more urgency since young students represent 33 percent of the new COVID-19 cases, with three schools seeing outbreaks.

A total of 89 students and 13 teachers have tested positive for the virus since August 7.