Bandar Seri Begawan - Prominent figures in the country are in full support of the announcement made by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his titah at the annual Teacher's Day gathering on the mandatory inclusion of religious education as part of the current system, an initiative the monarch himself devised.
In another significant milestone in the Sultanate's education system, the ruler yesterday announced that the "Compulsory Religious Education Order" will take effect on January 1 next year and placed hope that the education system in the country will not only put emphasis on general knowledge but would serve as a dual system that encompasses religion as part of its core.
His Majesty said the new order would bridge the religious gap some students in the country have faced for decades, which His Majesty said was "regrettable". Moving forward, His Majesty envisions students who are fluent in Al-Quran reading and perform obligatory prayers.
YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pg Hj Mohd Yusof bin Pg Hj Abdul Rahim, one of the recipients for the prestigious honour for the Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Education Award in an interview with the Borneo Bulletin yesterday said he shares the same sentiment with the monarch's titah and welcomed the initiative.
Citing an old Malay proverb, "Menunut ilmu biar sampai ke negeri Cina" or loosely translated as "Pursue education until you reach China", he said this shows that there are no boundaries to attaining knowledge. Equally important, he said,
is the approach of the religious aspect to achieve a holistic education. "Religion is the way towards perfection. I would love to hear that every Muslim Bruneian is not only fluent in reciting several Surahs but also in reading Al-Quran.
"There must be a public awareness to instil this culture among us," he added.
Meanwhile, another recipient of the award, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Mohd Zain bin Hj Serudin, the former Minister of Religious Affairs also upheld the titah by His Majesty. He told the Borneo Bulletin that education has a two-pronged approach that should also include religious education and that it should not be neglected. "Both must function in line with each other because we do not only live in today's world but also the hereafter," he added.
He said that without religion, it would be difficult to determine one's direction in life, specifically towards those that are good.
"However high the level of education someone has achieved, without practising religion and remembering Allah the Almighty, it would not suffice because it may lack moral values."
The current religious education system in the Sultanate, which is overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, allows students to receive religious education from Primary One until Six, where' upon completion, students will have to sit for a religious education examination towards certification. The most basic religious schools typically run afternoon sessions, where students from conventional primary schools attend after completing their morning sessions. Until today, religious education has never been mandatory for students in the country and there are significant numbers of students who do not follow nor complete the six-year religious education system.
There is an abundance of religious schools in the Sultanate, an initiative first set decades ago by the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien.
Today, the religious education system has extensively spread its wings under the leadership of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, where more religious institutions including specialised ones are established, such as a university college and a Tahfiz Al-Quran institute.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin