MoE budget focuses job creation, growth

  • Budget will focus on four main areas towards strengthening education and training, stimulating investment activities, enhancing the nation’s productivity and welfare. BT file

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE proposed education spending for the 2014/2015 fiscal year will see a 1.5 per cent increase of $11,659,060 with a total budget at $770,777,980.

Education Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong (pic) yesterday tabled the budget – themed “Creating Economic Growth, Producing Job Opportunities” – during the 10th Legislative Council (LegCo).

[For more reports on the 10th Legislative Council, click here]

He said the budget will focus on four main areas towards strengthening education and training, stimulating investment activities, enhancing the nation’s productivity and welfare.

The main focus areas will be covered through seven key initiatives under the Ministry of Education (MoE). YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar explained the initiatives aim to facilitate the ministry’s strategic objectives as outlined in the MoE Strategic Plan 2012/2017.

1. Literacy and Numeracy

Literacy and Numeracy topped the list of key initiatives with a budget allocation of $150,000 for intervention and remedial projects to overcome the literacy level of students.

The provision will also fund projects to improve the ability of English teachers at primary and secondary levels in assessing the literacy levels of students, using reading, comprehension and writing scales in line with international best practices.

Another $230,000 has been proposed for Literacy and Numeracy projects that will finance the development and updating of assessments.

It will also cover the recruitment of consultants, services and physical facilities for the enhancement of knowledge and the purchase of office equipment. Funded projects will include the 2014 workshop on enhancing knowledge and reading strategy for Jawi for Malay language teachers at primary level.

Meanwhile, a budget of $65.9 million will be allocated for education services that will finance the payroll of foreign teaching staff and services as well as teaching and learning activities.

As many as $220 million over a three-year period is slated for the recruitment of specialist teaching staff to enhance achievements in academic subjects such as English and Mathematics, particularly at the primary school level.

Facilities and infrastructure for schools and institutions of higher learning as well as buildings under MoE will receive $22.1 million for upgrades and improvements as a whole.

A budget allocation of $25 million will be provided for the purchase of equipment or tools needed for learning or teaching in schools, colleges and higher education institutions. It also includes the purchase of equipment for the Enhancement of Design and Technology project and technology subjects. The Special Scholarship Scheme will receive $104.8 million to fund 716 students under MoE to pursue further studies abroad, while $43 million will be allocated for scholarship and student allowances.

2. Transformation of Vocational and Technical Education

YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar said that 209 students have enrolled on the Higher National Technical Education Certificate (HNTec) for Instrument and Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering programmes since July 2013.

This January, the Plant Engineering programme under the National Technical Education Certificate (NTec) welcomed a total of 45 students.

The Industrial Skill Qualification (ISQ) took in 268 students in September 2013 for the Welder, Riggers, Scaffolders and Fitter programmes.

All the students have received conditional employment offers. Another 327 students joined the ISQ this month. Meanwhile, new programmes under the Energy Industry Competency Framework (EICF) saw an enrolment of 522 students between July 2013 and January 2014.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, around 2,500 students are expected to attend programmes under the first phase of HNTec, NTec and ISQ. It is estimated phase two of EICF will start in September 2014 until 2015 with a total of 250 students.

MoE and the Energy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO) are also working towards the establishment of the Brunei Maritime Academy (BMA).

The academy aims to train locals to become professional maritime personnel and seafarers, approved and recognised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to meet the labour needs of the country’s maritime industry.

A contract was signed by the Technical Education Department on February 6 for the setting up of the BMA in collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic International (SPI). The BMA will begin accepting enrolments next month with programmes such as deck rating, engine rating, bridging cook and steward as well as bridging officer engineering watch (OEW). A second intake is slated for July, offering a Diploma in Marine Engineering as well as bridging cook and steward.

In October, the third intake will open for deck rating, engine rating, bridging cook and steward as well as OEW. A total of 500 students will be recruited in 2014 and 2015 based on demand and supply.

All programmes under the BMA will be conducted through apprenticeships, whereby companies will select qualified students. The companies will also provide apprenticeships allowance and employ the students after graduation.

In total, around 3,300 students are expected to gain employment from July 2013 to 2015 through EICF compliant programmes.

Politeknik Brunei will receive $16.4 million, while Institut Teknologi Brunei will be provided with $19.9 million to increase opportunities for local school leavers to continue their studies in technical and vocational fields.

As much as $1.5 million will also be allocated for the training needs of the teaching staff for technical and vocational schools.

3. Model Schools

Since the initiative was launched on May 7, 2012, five Model Schools have been given exposure in terms of autonomy and accountability of school governance, curriculum structure, innovative pedagogy, operations and financial management strategies as well as professional training.

The Education Minister said Model Schools were also active in their efforts to improve ties and cooperation with the wider community.

On January 30, MoE appointed its Model School Leaders, School Administrative Board (Board of Governors) and Joint Venture Partners (Collaborators).

The 33 members of the Model Schools Board of Governance comprise representatives from government agencies, private sector and general public. Their appointments are expected to help the schools determine strategic direction, ensuring accountability and become close partners.

4. e-Hijrah

e-Hijah was introduced in 2011 to facilitate MoE’s move to integrate ICT towards enhancing quality of education.

Under provisions of the National Development Plan (RKN), projects that have been implemented include the Media and In-Service Centre, Integrated National Education Information System (INEIS) and Whole School ICT Approach (WSID).

5. Quality and Professionalism of Teachers

An allocation of $ 6 million is earmarked for development schemes under execution trainers Fund programme under the NDP Human Resources.

Programmes for such development schemes include the Brunei Teacher Standard (BTS) that will measure required competency of teachers and the Primary English Teacher Training (PETT) that aims to assess the proficiency and competency of teachers in the English language.

Other programmes are the Numeracy Initiative Project (NIP) to enhance primary and secondary mathematics teachers’ pedagogy and Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE).

A further $15 million will finance the implementation of strategic development for higher education institutions to develop and improve infrastructure, improve knowledge and skills of officials, conduct research and project development of academic as well as extra-curricular programmes.

6. Leadership Development

YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar said the value and quality of leadership will continue to be developed through a number of projects that have been identified and planned for 2014 to 2017.

Such projects are the Standard Skills Leaders or Leadership Competency Standards; “Impact” project to develop leadership skills among students and teachers, which also aims to improve their attendance and academic achievements; and the Gap Analysis for School Leaders to identify performance gaps.

He explained the School Leadership Programme is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of leadership skills among school leaders.

Meanwhile, the School Administration Programme or School Management Programme will aim to train school leaders on management and administration of schools, covering aspects such as financial and personnel.

7. Talent Pipeline

The Education Minster said this initiative will produce a group of talented employees qualified to fill important positions, provide security in sustainable development and assist in implementing the succession planning process with more transparent career pathways.

More priorities

Apart from the seven key initiatives, he added that MoE will also allocate provisions to support two further priorities to stimulate investment activities as well as for the well-being of the people.

To stimulate investment activities, MoE has conducted programmes such as the Student Entrepreneurship Scheme (BEES), Junior Achievers (JA) and Entrepreneurship at Campus in collaboration with various agencies.

Meanwhile, $3 million has been provided in assistance for children from low-income families through the Najah Miftahun (Keys to Success) Scheme.

Through this scheme, a total of 22 students have received been placed in hostels. Additionally, the Tuition Classes Pilot Project introduced in 2013 has helped 389 Year 6 students from 41 primary schools sitting for PSR exams and 164 students from 11 secondary schools sitting for O Levels.

Insya’Allah, this year the scheme will be further extended to pre-university (sixth form) level,” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar.

He also disclosed that since the Najah Miftahun Scheme was introduced in 2011 for the well-being of the people, the number of pre-school to Year 11 students receiving assistance has increased from year to year with 2,232 students in 2011 to 10,428 students in 2014.

“MoE will insya’Allah make every effort to ensure this provision is used to the best advantage as envisioned by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam,” he said.

The Brunei Times

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