Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Education (MoE) through its Curriculum Development Department yesterday clarified the situation surrounding the issue of some textbooks not available at bookstores in the country.
Upon visiting a number of bookstores on Tuesday, it was discovered that parents were unable to find the Year 8 textbooks and Years 1-7 MIB textbooks that students need for the new school year.
Speaking to the Borneo Bulletin yesterday in his office, Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Nawi, the Acting Director of the Curriculum Development Department, highlighted two distinct procedures involved in the acquisition of school textbooks for Brunei.
All textbooks meant for the use of government schools are procured directly by the Ministry of Education while textbooks for private purchase from bookstores are handled by a MoE-appointed local distributor who liaises directly with the publisher concerned," he said.
"Where the Year 8 textbooks for MIB and Bahasa Melayu are concerned, the government-procured textbooks are currently being distributed to all government schools."
He said all government schools are now in possession of the required textbooks and are available for the schools' respective students.
"When alerted this morning via the news report about the situation in bookstores, I immediately called in the representative from Comms Harris, the local distributor," he continued. 'Apparently, the books had arrived at Muara Port on December 24 and the distributor was processing their clearance."
He said the department has been assured that these textbooks will be available in the bookstores next week.
The Acting Director also assured that in view of the occurrence of such delays, the Curriculum Development Department has resolved to review the current standard operating procedure for procurement of textbooks for private purchase, with a view to expediting the entire process in the future.
"It may also be relevant at this time to highlight the fact that under SPN21, it is highly advocated that schools and teachers reduce their dependency on the use of any single textbook to deliver classroom teaching," he added.
He also took the opportunity to highlight that with SPN21 comes a more student-centred approach in education, where students are to be more dynamic and involved in their learning, and not rely solely on their textbooks.
The Borneo Bulletin also spoke with Syeemah HT, the Business Development Manager for Comms Harris, local distributor for the MIB and Bahasa Melayu textbooks.
Syeemah assured that the Year 8 textbooks have arrived in the country and are in the middle of clearance process.
She also said that they are anticipating the books to be available at the bookstores on Friday, and definitely by next week.
The next supply of MIB textbooks for Years 1-7 is also on its way to the country and should be available in bookstores soon.
The cause for the delay in the availability of these textbooks, Syeemah explained, is down to the distributor having only a week to process everything and with the shipping from Singapore needing to take place during the end of last year - a very busy time for shipping business.
Addressing parents and students, she urged them to "stay calm", saying that the textbooks "...are new books; new titles".
"The books have been safely transported to Brunei and we will issue a notification once they are available," she added. "All the books should be available soon at all the bookstores," she added.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin