Bandar Seri Begawan - Education on the religious forefront has been given further government support it was announced yesterday with the introduction of several scholarship schemes and other educational programmes aimed at the spiritual development among the younger generation.
In his opening statement delivered during the Legislative Council Meeting yesterday, Minister of Religious Affairs YB Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman shared "interesting developments" in terms of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's titah which have been achieved, particularly in policy changes for education incentives through the ministry's own scheme.
Apart from the continuation of overseas education scholarships for those achieving excellent results in their Brunei Higher Religious Studies Certificate (STPUB), the minister said that living allowance for students under the Tasyjie' Incentive Scholarship Scheme who wish to continue their education locally and have achieved excellent results for their STPUB will be $500 a month from the initial $350 and, for job security, will be bonded with the government specifically for those who have graduated from the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) and will be given priority if they meet the criteria.
"The presence of excellent students studying locally will raise the quality and image of (UNISSA and KUPU SB)," he said, adding that the quality of local education in terms of infrastructure and academic human resource is on par with international standards.
To fulfil the country's human resource needs, meanwhile, the minister said that the ministry has introduced the 'Fulfilling the Needs of the Country Scholarship' that aims to provide special consideration to students based on the country's needs to fulfil the criteria and guidelines. '
This scholarship, he explained, will be provided to male students who did not achieve an 'Excellent' for their STPUB who can be considered for the scholarship towards occupying positions that are typically filled by men such as in the field of judiciary, mosque affairs, enforcement and so on.
The scholarship is not just limited to religious education as it can also be awarded to students who qualify for mainstream subjects such as the Science and Mathematics. For families that are financially constrained, the ministry has introduced the Rif'ah scholarship that will provide opportunities for children whose parents have been listed as Zakat recipients under the Brunei Islamic Religious Council or under the Community Development Department.
He explained that this incentive will pave way for students to study at the Pre-Arabic Religious School with the hope to secure a successful future that is not limited to just obtaining their SPU certificates but also their 'O'-Levels, Pre-University, STPUB's and 'A-Levels.
To supplement the current religious education curriculum, meanwhile, the minister announced that the Islamic Education Department has also initiated the Insyirah Programme that will, apart from enriching religious education through 'Fun Learning' address issues faced by parents who have had difficulties with school hours during work days.
Established in all 32 religious schools throughout the Sultanate, this programme, he explained, will engage students in pre-school up until Primary Six, which will extend school hours from the initial 7.30am until 9am to 7.30am unti110.45am during which time students will be educated in Jawi writing, Hadrah, al-Quran reading, Arabic language guidance and so on.
As the ministry strives to further embrace the "Lifelong Learning Concept", the minister shared the four demographics that the ministry aims to connect with particularly school students, public service officers and staff, Muslim converts and women, introducing to them three programmes including religious classes for adults or further education under the Brunei Islamic Religious Department, courses and workshops under the Mosque Affairs Department as well as al-Quran classes and other Islamic education.
This public outreach initiative is conducted in various locations throughout Brunei Darussalam that caters to, or has catered to, thousands of students who are taking, or have taken, the said courses including youths.
A special mention was also given to the country's Muslimah group under the Mosque Affairs Department whose members have risen by 100 individuals from 1,419 last year to 1,519 with a teaching workforce that stands at 61 teachers. The membership is open in 45 mosques throughout the country with 25 in the Brunei-Muara District, 12 in Tutong, six in Belait and three in Temburong since the beginning of the year.
"The contributions made by the Muslimah group are significant and important to the community in terms of shaping our children and families."--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin