There has been a rising and damaging trend that has taken a lot of students in this country by storm in that many have become unwilling to pursue further studies out of the reasoning that it is just “not worth it” or they are “not smart enough”.

As a result, some of our otherwise bright students are dropping out after their SPN, O-levels, A-levels education. This demoralising idea has to be combated to the core by all parties involved, including teachers, parents, students, and all parties alike.

Why? We are living an age of a knowledge-based economy that necessitates us in this 21st century to continually upgrade our professional credentials, technical skill-sets, and formal education to create value in the world we are living in today. How else are we going to survive in this changing global order.

The days of doing hard-labor under the hot sun or doing repetitive work as evident in the construction, retail, and food and beverage industry are becoming all the more difficult for everyone in this day and age to securing a decent livelihood needed to raise and build up a family.

With intense regional immigration flow, coupled with highly productive workforce and their low wage price offerings will, as a result, reduce the general wage and salary price for these types of low-skilled work for economies in the region, including Brunei. Young Bruneians working in these low-skilled sectors are already being affected as we speak.

If Brunei and the youths are ever going to succeed, we have to continually produce a robust stream of highly-educated, highly-skilled professionals who can work and contribute productively in the areas of STEM and, even, in future sectors pertaining the fourth industrial revolution (IT, Robotics, A.I., Programming). Otherwise, our young people and our society are going to be in trouble.

To do so requires students in Brunei to play their inherent part in scoring great marks in schools and in universities, be they at the SPN, O-levels, A-levels and beyond. Getting a minimum of a degree education should be the north star affixed by every society in this country to attain. This has to be burnt in the minds of every parent who wants to prepare their future children a decent life.

Otherwise, the only jobs fitting for our drop-outs is going to be the labour-intensive, low-skilled work. Even then the job will not be long secured, as businesses can easily replace our locals with someone more productive and cheap from another country. Globalisation is real and unless we prepare for its impact, then young people are going to face the consequences.

To all the young people reading this, I implore you to just continue your studies. Never give up in your education. Do not follow your friends or other influence who wants to invite you to quit school or university. Associate yourself with those who have higher aspirations in life, because by the end of the day this is your life, and, your life’s future quality is going to affect mine and everyone in this society.

Let your degree education be a precursor for you to secure a knowledge-based and highly-skilled job. Do you part in becoming our country’s future lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, economists, policy-makers, lecturers, journalists, pilots, and scientists that our country needs to advance itself in the 21st century and beyond.

It would be a tremendous waste if we are going to spoil the government’s investment in our education. A business lady I know from Limbang was envious that Bruneians has a good educational system that she wished that she had been able to send her children to be educated in this country. Let us not spoil the privilege that we all possess, shall we?

As we are ushered in this ever-changing global era, it is imperative that our students to study, study, and study! That was the advise given to me by a former Prime Minister of Timor Leste when I asked him what young students should do to make an impact in their community and society.

So if you want to change the world, the first act that you need is to get your degree education. The quality of your life and our society depends on you. As for the parents, educators, and government officials reading this, we have to play our part to inject that value of education in our children so we can all create a better, a prosperous, and secure future for all.