BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Education will be replacing all computer devices in government primary and secondary schools as part of its ministry’s digital transformation plan. 

During a meeting of the Legislative Council on Sunday, Education Minister YB Dato Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the need to embrace digital learning and teaching methods.

The minister tabled an education budget of $583.7 million for the 2022/23 fiscal year, down 23 percent from the previous year.

Some $426.7 million will go towards staff salaries, while $140.6 million is set aside recurring expenses. A total of $16.4 million has been allocated for development projects.

During his budget readout, YB Dato Hj Hamzah outlined several projects aimed at providing equal and equitable access to education.

MoE will also supply laptops and internet data to underprivileged students, as well as all government teachers to improve the quality of online teaching.

During the second wave of COVID infections last year, teachers were given an allowance of $20 per month to purchase data to conduct online classes, while children from low income families were given 10GB of data per month.

Although secondary students have returned to schools in limited numbers since January, primary school remains online until the government can implement its vaccination programme for children aged 5-12.

YB Dato Hj Hamzah acknowledged that there was a COVID learning deficit the longer students stay at home. 

“If not addressed immediately, it is likely to affect the development of people and society, and we fear it will hamper the development of the country in the coming years,” he said.

VocTech programmes to be revamped

MoE will also restructure programmes offered by technical and vocational schools, in collaboration with the Manpower Planning and Employment Council. 

These include diploma programmes in business, information technology, geomatics and agro-technology at IBTE; as well as diploma programmes in engineering and industrial technology at Politeknik Brunei.

The minister said the employment rate of voctech graduates has gone up, with 74 percent of IBTE students and 69 percent of Politeknik Brunei students securing a jobs within six months of graduation.