Royal plaudits for private schools
By James Kon

The significant roles played by private schools in helping lift the nation's quality of education was lauded by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, during the officiating ceremony of the Brunei Malay Teacher's Association (PGGMB) School's new complex at Kg Sungai Akar, yesterday morning.

HRH the Crown Prince in his sabda said, "As of year 2006, 29 per cent of the total students in the country are those enrolled in private schools. Statistics in the year 2005 also showed that there were 177 private educational schools registered with the Ministry of Education. This is a significant figure in the schools system in Brunei Darussalam."

HRH added that the "Private sector's involvement in the schools system should not only be seen as the country's economical gain, but more importantly, it has also succeeded in raising the quality of education for the country's population".

"The achievement of an educational institution requires all stakeholders to be continuously committed and to understand their respective roles in order to give the best attention and contribution," HRH said in his sabda.

"It is one of the major challenges to the management of an educational institution in order to ensure the quality, diversity and sustenance of the education system in facilitating the development of the minds and to maintain the strength of the race."

Highlighting the important roles played by private education institutions in the nation's education system, HRH said, "His Majesty's Government welcomes the private sector's involvement particularly in the provision of the educational infrastructure. This is crucial in ensuring sustenance in the supply of local human resource, which will hopefully support the Government's commitment in enhancing the quality of an educated and competent human resource."

HRH the Crown Prince further added, "The Government also hopes that private sector involvement will also provide the competitive edge to further the potential of the education industry as well as the nation's commerce. The participation of the private sector in the educational field is also hoped to uphold the nation's aspiration in producing educated citizens of calibre through a quality education system."

Touching on the role of the Ministry of Education in private education, HRH said, "The Ministry of Education should also perform its role in ensuring the private education sector does not betray the trust placed by parents in private schools in educating their children. The cost of managing the school should not be regarded as the ultimate priority. However, the means to its accomplishment should be balanced through the enhancement of the quality of education delivered to the students.

"The Ministry of Education has enforced the Education Order 2003 and the Education Regulations 2004 with the objective of controlling the establishment and management of private schools. The enforcement of both the Education Order and Regulations should be implemented continuously and the monitoring be focused on ensuring that the well-being and welfare of the students enrolled in the private education schools will always be guaranteed."

Speaking on pursuing higher education by private students within the country, HRH said enrolments into domestic higher learning such as Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Institut Teknologi Brunei and the Award of Government Scholarships to those who are qualified can hopefully provide high motivation to students in achieving excellence in their respective studies.

"The achievement of excellence of an educational institution is closely related to the roles of the respective school's management and the capabilities of the entrusted teachers. However, the capabilities of the teachers alone would not be sufficient without commitment from the students themselves, who should inculcate discipline and strive to achieve personal excellence," HRH said in his sabda.

Highlighting PGGMB's achievements, HRH said, "The Brunei Malay Teacher's association is among the local professional associations who have stood the challenges of time in enhancing the professionalism of its members as well as in developing its activities and contributions towards enhancing the level of quality education of the locals. At the same time, it had also successfully contributed to the sustenance of the association and well-being of its members.

"PGGMB's role and contribution in the educational field should be set as an example particularly for its ability in providing building infrastructure and conducive learning facilities," HRH said. - Borneo Bulletin (28th Nov 2006)