Brunei Country Profile - Education

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System structure

Education in Brunei is provided by the state through the Ministry of Education and is compulsory for children between the ages of five and 16/17. Children attend primary school up until the age of 13, before moving to middle/junior school and then secondary school, after which they can choose to complete A levels at sixth form between the ages of 17 and 19. Tertiary education comprises a two-tier bachelors/masters system and is provided by the four state-run universities in Brunei. Education in Brunei is dually influenced by the country’s strict adherence to Islam and the British education system in terms of curricula and academic structure. Education is high-quality and free for all citizens. There are also a number of private, international schools available for expat children, however bilingual education is compulsory Brunei’s state schools, with both Malay and English being used as the principal languages of instruction.  

Academic year

The school year in Brunei comprises four terms of around ten to 12 weeks each. The academic year begins in January and ends in November, with a four-week break at the end of the year. Additional school holidays include two weeks in March, two weeks in June and two weeks in September as well as public and religious holidays.

Higher education

Brunei has four universities, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Universiti Teknologi Brunei, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali and Politeknik Brunei. There are also two further institutions specialising in teacher training and business.  The University of Brunei Darussalam is the highest-ranking institution and consists of eight academic faculties and eight research institutes. Teaching and research is carried out in both English and Malay and admission to university is achieved through gaining appropriate Brunei-Cambridge Advanced Level Certificate of Education examination (GCE ‘A’ Level) grades in sixth form.

Funding

Higher education and research is funded entirely by the Ministry of Education and is free for all citizens of Brunei. However, international students and non-residents are required to pay tuition fees of approximately $3,000BND (£1,900) to $40,000BND (£20,000) per year, depending on the course of study.  

Courses

Universities in Brunei follow the British two-tier system of three or four-year undergraduate degrees and one or two-year postgraduate degrees, with many degree programmes taught entirely in English. Doctorate programmes are offered by the University of Brunei Darussalam and comprise a combination of coursework and research.

 

Research

In recent years there has been an increase in state-backed research funding for Brunei’s principal institutions and the country is keen to foster international collaboration in research. Due to its geology, rainforests and links to the petroleum industry, Brunei has become an attractive destination for researchers interested in biodiversity, energy and engineering.

Primary and secondary education

General compulsory schooling comprises primary school (ages five to 13, including one compulsory year in pre-school or kindergarten), middle or junior school (ages 13 to 15) and lower secondary school (ages 15 to 17). Religious primary education is also provided by the state through the Ministry of Religious Affairs and is compulsory for all Muslim children in Brunei. Pupils study a common curriculum of subjects throughout their school life and Islamic religious education is compulsory. Teaching is in both Malay and English.

At the end of lower senior school, students sit the Brunei Cambridge General Certificate of Education (BC GCE) 'O' level and International General Certificate of Secondary Examination (IGCSE) which can lead successful candidates to follow two-year Brunei-Cambridge Advanced Level Certificate of Education examination (GCE ‘A’ Level) courses. Expat children are mainly educated in fee-paying private schools or in schools in other countries.

Pre-school and childcare

Formal schooling begins at pre-school level (equivalent to the reception year in the UK) at age five in Brunei, where children begin their journey towards the Primary School Assessment (PSR) at the end of primary school. For childcare options prior to compulsory schooling, there are a number of private nurseries and day care centres available throughout Brunei. It is also common for expats to pay for a live-in nanny to care for their pre-school children while they are at work.

 

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