(Pic credits to https://myreports.wordpress.com/category/ministry-of-education-brunei/page/6/)

Education forms a vital part of a nation’s development. The ability of its youths to excel and succeed in education is highly correlated to a nation’s long-term socio-economic success. As such this article shall focus on the youths, for their role in contributing to the nation could be measured as to how well they do in their formal education. Next, this article shall give basic recommendations to parents and government in increasing the chances of the youths’ educational success. This article will also make the case on why the scholarship investment should increase progressively in the years to come as a pathway to secure the future of the nation-state in this increasingly competitive and complex world.

The main reason why education is vital for national development, first and foremost, is that it enables the state to secure the right human capital to feed the growing demands of industry, civil service, government, etc. Consequently, it will increase the likelihood for the nation to find individuals to secure the professions which would advance the cause of the nation-state. These professions could range from medicine to architecture, from engineering to researcher, from civil service to finance, etc.

Whatever these professions are, it ultimately demands from the youths – who are in the formal education system today – the need to subsequently acquire specialised knowledge and skills needed to form as a base requirement necessary to catapult the nation’s development programme forward. Make no mistake, every profession carries with them their own sets of responsibility and challenges. What better way for the youth to contribute to the nation than to strive in doing well in their field of study whilst in school or university before acquiring these specialised skills in the name of national development.

Whatever the professions the youth chooses, it would require from them the need to succeed in STEM-based education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These subjects are highly embedded in the secondary and tertiary based education system. The former’s importance is reflective of the efforts by the government in carrying out the SPN21 programme, a programme to innovate how teaching is done in the educational system to reflect the need to produce smart, capable, and loyal citizens in the 21st century; the latter in building up the capacities of UBD, UTB, Polytechnic School, etc. in their areas of competencies such as in medicine, policy-making, business development, economics, mechanical engineering, videography, etc.

With the rising tide of globalisation, the youth are now ever pressed to succeed in their education. And in the modern era, we have to see these developments in place to prepare our people to create a better, brighter future for the nation.

Never in the five hundred plus years of Brunei history has there been such wide access to basic free education than this illustrious period alone. We, the youths, have to, therefore, appreciate the opportunities given by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. We have the privilege than many in the developing world would wish for. Let us realise our privilege and justify it by studying and doing well in our education.

By doing well in SPN, O-levels, A-levels, and Degree education, it ensures that whatever monies invested in our education will result in magnified returns.

For the parents who have their children taking SPN (PMB equivalent), O-levels, and/or A-levels it is highly encouraged for every parent to take their children’s education at the very core of one’s family policy.

There is this Kampong where my former high-school principal lives where most of the youths (now adults) got a degree. When I asked how come, he stated how the importance of education is drummed up in every child from a very young age in that Kampong. Today, those adults form part of the base of the expanding middle class of Brunei. Their education gives them opportunities to secure good paying jobs, such as being a pilot, dentist, civil engineer, lawyer, and architect. In return, they place their specialised knowledge and skill sets in their work that invariably contributes to the development of the nation-state.

Securing and placing good education at the core of family planning for the child is one of the surest ways to achieve sustainable, resilient development of a nation-state. The success would build up the necessary human capital needed to catapult Brunei’s development forward. And that progress begins at home.

Sultan Bolkiah the 5th, the great Sultan who ushered Brunei in its glorious Golden Age in the 15th century, always give advice to his people. One of his most famous advice is inevitably about education. He said how Bruneians should go and study abroad, and come back with whatever the knowledge they have to contribute to Brunei’s development. It was a message he gave to the people whom he led in ushering Brunei to attain its Golden Age status.

The advice is true then, it is true now.

We stand at this moment in our unique history where basic education is provided en masse and for free. Let us, the youths, realise this privilege and justify it by excelling or at least doing well in our education.

To the youths who are struggling in their education right now and/or who are planning to quit because they can’t take school pressure, go read how-to-study guide books. Books by Adam Khoo such as “I am Gifted, So Are You!” is a good start. You can borrow it from the public library in Bandar. I owe my academic success on that book, where I went from a D average O’level student to top in the class scoring As for my Sciences (Physics, Biology, Chemistry) and Mathematics.

And if you do have plans to quit school or college, probably due to school pressures, do consult with your school counsellor or trusted mentor immediately. Share your problems with them and see if a solution can be found. Truth be told, this writer almost quit school himself because of the immense school pressure faced in his A-level days. But because of a mentor’s help, this writer was able to recover well and came back stronger than ever before.

To the parents, place education at the very core of your family policy. Ensure that the base requirement that one would ever accept from one’s child in terms of education is in attaining a degree level education. Getting them to secure a degree is the aspiration that has to be aimed by every Bruneian family in the 21st century. So give the child a good environment to study. Purchase them revision or exam books. Secure the best tutors for them. Make money no object in securing good education for the child.

To the government, in the midsts of lowering Oil and Gas prices, may this writer give a suggestion to the government that the youths are the greatest treasure that this nation has. They will be the one who would help to secure Brunei’s future. So keep on investing heavily in the education system, by means of securing better-qualified teachers and to raise the standard of teaching in schools, especially in STEM-based education.

In addition, this writer implores the government to increase the investment in scholarships. Many talented qualified students studying in the UK I know appreciate the scholarship they have been given and are subsequently putting those degrees to good use in the name of nation-building. Some of them are now building businesses and I am confident they will be providing jobs locally in the years to come, effectively solving the youth unemployment issues facing the nation.

The investment in scholarships must continue and if possible be increased progressively in the years and decades ahead, and not the opposite. For while Oil & Gas may be a one-time commodity, the youths are not. As stated, the youths are the greatest treasure that this nation can have. Let us invest in them, for our youths are the ones who would enable Brunei Darussalam to secure a brighter, better future one day. Therefore an increase in investments in scholarship is vital to the long-term interest of this nation.

To conclude, education is a vital part of national development. The efforts made by the government and the people must be combined in total to ensure that the monies invested in education lead to great results that would inevitably secure the future of the people and the nation-state in this increasingly competitive and complex world.

To the youths of Brunei, I say, study, study, & study! Never give up. Never give in. Continue on your educational path while you are at it. Do well in it. Do it for the nation. But above all, do it for your family, teachers, and all of those who have placed the effort and belief in you in being a person who would contribute positively to your community and society one day.