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During the fifth day of the 8th Legislative Council meeting yesterday, the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office underlined budget allocations towards the country's human capacity building in various schemes which are intended to prepare locals with appropriate skills and qualifications for building the nation.



The minister, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim realised that the efforts in developing and expanding the country's human resource need several key characteristics not only equipped with a dynamic, vibrant, competent, productive and innovative skills but also creative with a strong identity.

He explained that a workforce with adequate skills will "enable the issues and challenges brought about by the winds of change, be addressed effectively, from time to time." The minister explained that in order to increase the institutional capacity in the government and relevant agencies, provisions have been provided to enable the members of the public service for trainings or to attend courses (be it in the short term or long term).

"These include the provision of skills and capacity building provided to Ministries and Government Departments, as a whole, which amounted to $41.96 million. This amount is an increase of $4.6 million (more than 10 per cent) of the provisions of the Financial Year 2011/2012," said the Finance Minister II.

Under the National Development Plan, the provisions are also provided under the heading of 'Human Resource Fund' where the proposed budget amounts to a total of $250 million.

Since the scheme was implemented about four years ago, the government has spent a total of $103.7 million for the delivery of government officials to pursue their studies abroad under the Programme and Professional Development of Experts. A total of 114 people were sent for PhD level studies, while about 459 people at graduate level. For the Special Scholarship Fund of Human Resources, the government has spent approximately $104.2 million with a total of 135 students have been sent to pursue studies at Advanced Level, 429 people to pursue their First Degree and 88 people at Masters level in institutions of higher learning abroad.

"The government will continue to identify development needs and opportunities related to future employment, which will be established within the government sector and in specific sectors. This includes the financial sector, oil and gas industry, including support services and other areas that are relevant,"said YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman.

The minister hoped that through the provision of the budget, the capacity of human resources and institutions will be strengthened, to increase the public sector, private sector and the public, especially youths, to national development.

"Through educational opportunities and training available, it will also help address some of the major social issues, such as unemployment and poverty.

"These expenses are also a long-term investment that is hoped to help strengthen the private sector to diversify sources of national economy," he said.

As a further step to increase human capacity-building, the government has also taken the initiative to open up more opportunities for employees in the private sector to pursue courses or trainings but this opportunity is limited to only certain companies which are capable.

A total of $79 million will be provided under the National Development Plan for the implementation of three schemes under the 'Human Capacity Development Programme' in the private sector.

The first is the 'Energy Resource Development Scheme for Private Sector' offered by the Department of Planning and Economic Development.

This scheme is to enable locals who work in the private sector to be given scholarships to attend courses, training or further education under three sub-schemes, namely Sub-Academic Improvement Scheme; Sub-Professional Scheme and Sub-Training Assistance Scheme.

These schemes include the areas of learning at Higher National Diploma, First Degree, Post Graduate.

The second scheme is the 'Scholarship Scheme for Technical and Vocational Education' at local private institutions whereby it is designed specifically to provide students and school-leavers in the 'O' and 'A' Level qualification an opportunity to continue their studies at private higher education institutions.

The third scheme is the 'Training and Employment Scheme' that is intended to provide financial incentives to locals who have been trained with skills in the private sector to continue their employment.

The government has also been impoverishing the education allowance benefit for those working in the public sector as of January 1, 2012. This benefit will be extended to members of the Employees' Trust Fund and for their children studying in Private Tertiary Education Institutions, in the Sultanate. To finance this, provision of education allowance has been increased from $10 million to $36 million.

For the purpose of diversifying and increasing the opportunities for youth, including school leavers, to continue their studies in the field of vocational and technical, the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, through the Ministry of Education, has also set up a Polytechnic institution. In support of this initiative, the overall allocation of $22.8 million will be available to finance operations and the Polytechnic institution.

In an effort to develop the skills and creativity of youths in this country, certain provisions have also been allocated to sanction relevant government agencies in providing equipment and infrastructure facilities required. A total of $300,000 will be provided to finance the promotion of the 'Reading Culture' programme under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. A specific provision of $20 million will be provided through the Ministry of Education to fund the additional requirements of 'Preservation of Assets' and another $20 million for the purchase of educational equipment in all educational institutions. A total of $2.7 million will be provided to finance the purchase of equipment spending for schools and institutions of higher learning, under the control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and $300,000 is provided to finance the purchase of equipment and appliances at the Youth Development Centre. A total of $1.5 million will be allocated for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to operate the National Service Programme.

A total of $21.7 million has been set aside for educational supplies for Religious and Arabic schools, Secondary Schools and Sixth Form Centres. In addition, a provision of $8 million is allocated for rebuilding projects for temporary school buildings and schools in Kampong Ayer (Phase 1). To improve the country's National Education System in line with education policy as outlined in the Brunei Vision 2035, several new initiatives have been and will be implemented by the Ministry of Education.

First would be the introduction of five 'Model Schools' in 2012, which aims to provide 'first-class' schools at primary, secondary, vocational and higher education, in order to produce experts and professionals for the country's needs. Secondly is the launching of 'The Chancellor Scholar' from the Academic Year 2012/2013 which is introduced to locals by selecting a leading institution overseas to further their studies, and then return to the homeland and to serve at Universiti Brunei Darussalam as an academic staff.

Another initiative is the launch of the School Based Assessment for Learning (SBAfL) handbook, a method of assessment of student learning that is unique to this country, combining the two core practices, namely school-based assessment and assessment for learning.

The signing of various Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), including the MoU for transmission of HND and Degree students to undergo a 'supervised work experience' in foreign countries is also another initiative mentioned by the minister. The last initiative is the introduction of 'Entrepreneurial Skills' programme to each Diploma and Technical Certificate programme, technical and vocational institutions of this country beginning in 2012. In addition to the above initiatives, the Department of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office has also established the Energy Industry Competency Framework, which aims to align training capacity, particularly in the oil and gas industry, to ensure the country has local competent to fill the jobs available in the industry. In this regard, the Energy Division at the Prime Minister's Office has also been aiming to produce at least 5,000 professionals and 35,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers in the energy sector by 2035.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin