Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Mixed Feelings About SPN21

By Amin Hosni

Bandar Seri Begawan - The National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21) implemented this year by the Ministry of Education to upgrade students with 21st Century skills has captured the nation's imagination on its potential to "renew" outdated systems in the Sultanate.

In a titah to mark Teachers' Day two years ago, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam welcomed the new education system as it is "an appropriate step especially in an era of globalisation".

However, the Bulletin has learnt that there are some members in the community who have reservations about this ambitious plan.

Concerned members of the public, including teachers, who were approached by the Bulletin, believe that implementing the SPN21 will be a "difficult task" especially for Primary One and Primary Four teachers.

Ms Anie, a Primary Five math teacher of a primary school in Kampong Ayer, said that she does not fully understand what the SPN21 is all about even though the national education system was being rolled out this year.

"I have not been informed about the changes of (the old education system)," the 29-year-old teacher said, adding that she strongly believes that teachers at her school were "not qualified" as they "have no knowledge" about some of the new subjects, such as music and technology.

Ms Anie is also concerned that her school, which currently has "sufficient number of computers", could run into problems because there are not enough projectors.

If more than one class needs to use the projectors, this could "result in setbacks or delays in teaching schedules", she lamented.

Meanwhile, a former primary school teacher at Lambak Kanan, who requested anonymity, said that the SPN21 was "structurally unclear" and that teachers in Brunei were "not ready for it".

"The new system is not just book oriented... it requires classes to go on field trips and such. Teachers are also required to follow a set of teaching methods. But how can they if they are unprepared?

"Some teachers have not attended these workshops while teachers appointed to educate children on these subjects lack experience. Furthermore, textbooks such as social studies have not been published," the teacher said.

The former primary teacher went on to say that concerned parents have been asking her if schools have teachers who are qualified to teach their children these new subjects.

Fauzana Daud, a secondary teacher of a school in the capital, pointed out one downside of the SPN21. According to her, students will not have to repeat the academic year if they fail certain subjects. Some students may be less like to study hard because they are confident that they would be promoted no matter what, she said.

"Back in the 1990s, 'our generation' would be afraid to get red ink on their report cards. But these days, it's like a trend for students to get red marks. But who's to blame? The teachers or the students?"

The Bulletin has learnt that the full implementation of the SPN 21 for all primary classes would be completed in 2011. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Retrieved from http://www.brudirect.com/DailyInfo/News/Archive/Jan09/06/nite05.htm

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