A student getting her scholarship agreement from an officer from JPKE. Picture: BT/Hana Roslan
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Sunday, September 11, 2011
HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) under the Prime Minister's Office yesterday awarded scholarships to 1,104 recipients to continue their education at local private institutions as part of the September 2011 intake.
The scholarship, known as the "Technical & Vocation Education Scholarship (BPTV) in Local Private Institutions" scheme was introduced under the Human Resource Development Fund under JPKE.
This new scheme will provide school leavers with 'O' and 'A' level qualifications , particularly eligible students who were not given an opportunity to study in government technical and vocational institutions.
About 392 students have been awarded a High National Diploma (HND) or equivalent, 49 awarded with a Higher National Certificate (HNC) and 242 have been awarded National Diploma (ND) or equivalent.
Finally, the level with the most entries is the Pre-National Diploma (PND) or equivalent with 421 students.
"Our research has shown that a large amount of people who obtained three 'O' levels and below are applying for PND courses. That's a big group of the unemployed who have no qualifications at all and you can see this group in the unemployment list," said the Acting Director Human Resource Development Lim Hong Huat in an interview.
They have nowhere to go, he continued, and could not compete for places in institutions such as SultanSaifulRijal Technical College (MTSSR).
"This is an opportunity for them to do their PND and this course only requires four 'O' Level passes," he said.
Five local institutions namely Cosmopolitan College of Commerce and Technology (CCCT), KemudaInstitute, Kolej International Graduate Studies (IGS), Laksamana College of Business and MicronetInternational College (MIC) have been chosen by JPKE to house the new intakes.
Lim said that majority of the courses offered in the institutions were limited to mainly business and computing, but JPKE has held talks with most private institutions in the country to diversify their courses.
"We keep telling Brunei institutions to not just look at the Brunei market but the international market as well. So this(scheme) will kickstart their revenue to invest and attract people outside because Brunei is a really good place to study," said Lim.
Currently, the steering committee for the scheme which consists of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Development, Brunei Economic Development Board and JPKE are "sitting down" on the type of courses JPKE wants for national development.
"We at JPKE are looking after the national economic planning so we know what type of skills we require. The committee for this issue will, in a month or two, decide on what type of courses for the next intake," he said.
At the moment, JPKE can only approve five institutions because many of the other private schools do not meet the department's criteria.
"Our criteria is that all schools must offer a level from PND up to an HND equivalent. Most of the schools offer short courses but we want a full-time course because we don't want these 'O' level or 'A' level students loitering about," he said, adding that the schools also need to be registered with MoE.
However, JPKE is not limiting only five schools and the acting director said that they were looking out for more schools that can meet their criteria.
Additionally, he also said that they were looking into inviting overseas institutions from Australia and the United Kingdom as possible school choices for the scholarship scheme.
"We are going to have a meeting with the British and Australian High Commissioner so we will see what can happen by looking at the possibility of joining us. We will leave it up to them," he said.
Asked about the budget for the current scholarship scheme, Lim said he does not know the exact figure but stated he "does not know the number, but a lot of money is being allocated into it".
However, he estimated that in the next National Development Plan (RKN), $100 million or more might be allocated for this scheme depending on the capacity.
This would be the very first intake of students to be under this new scheme, and the next would be in March 2012, which will be for a very small group.
"The next big intake will be in September next year and this will be an ongoing project. We have been instructed to implement this project, so this is a pilot and if it is successful, then the MoE can continue giving out this scholarship scheme instead," he said.
The event took place at the Fire and Rescue Department multi-purpose hall, where students received their scholarship offers from JPKE.