The Brunei National Education System
for the 21st Century (SPN21)
- A Synopsis -
Awg Ibrahim Bin Haji Abd Rahman
Acting Director of School
Department of Schools
Ministry of Education
The Sistem Pendidikan Negara Abad 21 or SPN21 is a new system of education for Brunei Darussalam which aims at preparing Brunei students to face and survive the challenges of the globalised world of the 21st century. One of the strategies of the System is to equip the students concerned with the skills and knowledge considered useful and necessary in order to render them to be able to compete successfully, at local and international fronts, during the years ahead. All these are to be achieved while they, at the same time, remaining loyal and committed to the country as responsible citizens who will contribute meaningfully to the future socio-economic progress and well-being of the community and the world at large. Formulated within the context of the Melayu-Islam-Beraja (MIB – Malay-Islamic-Monarchy) philosophy, and introduced since 2009, SPN21 is slated to come into full implementation in 2012 covering all levels of our schooling system.
SPN21 in a Nutshell
Education in Brunei Darussalam has undergone through several facets in its development over the years. However, formal, modern education only began in earnest in 1912. Since then, many progresses had been made in the field of education, in terms of policy formulation, structure, curricula, assessment and quantification as well as professional development, i.e. in keeping with the prevailing socio-economic condition and the changing needs of the society. With the achievement of full independence of the country in 1984, there was an ever increasing need to expand our education system, stand on our own feet and chart our own destiny, particularly in respect of education. SPN21 came to the fore at a time when Brunei aspires to further transform its education landscape in support of the nation’s drive to realise its Brunei Vision 2035.
Basically SPN21 is aimed at improving students’ success rates in schools and enhance their marketability upon their entry in the job market, which would, hopefully translate in an improved chances in life. Specifically the system aims to address the following:
§ To fulfil the needs and challenges to develop the socio-economy of the country and its general population during the 21st century. Here students as future leaders must possess the relevant knowledge and skills, as well as the right values and attitudes as in order to meet the changing needs of the society of the future. They should also need to be responsive to the needs of the various stakeholders.
§ To realise the vision and mission of the Ministry of Education for “Quality Education towards a Developed, Peaceful and Prosperous Nation” and “To Provide Holistic Education to achieve Fullest Potential for All”.
§ To develop 21st century skills, whereby schools and educational institutions within the country will be appropriately equipped with the necessary facilities and teaching staff and trainers to teach and deliver the identified subjects.
§ Fulfil the Strategic Themes as outlined in the MOEs Strategic Plan 2007-2011.
The significant changes that will be brought about by SPN21 require that the system must remain relevant at all times and is of high quality. Among others, the System calls for the following adjustment to the current practise or system:
1) Education structure.
SPN21 aims to bring the best out of students in and out of the school system, and in the world of work. It is designed with the intention to fit the system to students rather than the other way round. It allows highly capable students to complete their secondary education in a shorter period of time. This will benefit the nation in its effort to optimise human resource development
2) Curriculum and Assessment.
The curriculum comprises formal and non-formal learning experiences that should be provided to our students as these learning experiences are necessary for achieving the aims of education in Brunei Darussalam. It sets out what we want students to know and be able to do. We want our students to be life-long learners who are confident and creative, connected and are actively involved in the quest for knowledge. It sets out the desired values that are to be encouraged, modelled, and explored. It also determines how our students’ performance will be assessed and reported. It gives teachers, students, parents, employers and the society a clear and shared understanding of the knowledge, skills and desired values to be gained at school.
3) Technical Education
Planned technical and vocational education programmes will be introduced and implemented as from January 2012 onwards for students who have completed their Year 10 or Year 11 in secondary education. In this context, a 3 – Tier Qualification System for Technical and Vocational Education was introduced with the aim to provide multiple pathways to higher education. This will be done by introducing a variety of technical and vocational programmes that will suit the capabilities of students after they have completed their studies.
Summary and Conclusion
One of the main aims of the MOE Brunei Darussalam is to realise quality education through excellence in teaching and learning. To achieve this aim, some aspects of the current national education system need to be revamped. SPN21 provides the avenue to fulfil the MOE’s Vision and Mission as well as to meet the social and economic challenges of the 21st century. However, being new it remains to be seen whether the System will yield the kind results it is designed to produce during the years to come.
What is clear is that, in order to ensure the success of SPN21, collaboration from all parties concerned is very much needed. The implementation will be done in stages, based on clear directions and perspectives. These include the provision of a suitable new curriculum and assessment framework, remedial and intervention programmes, effective teacher training programmes, effective leadership programmes, provision of adequate teaching and learning resources including ICT, sufficient budget, and an effective system for monitoring, evaluation and benchmarking. The success of SPN21 implementation is largely dependent on the teacher, thus appropriate teacher training is crucial and will be given priority.