The public education system is not just the government’s responsibility but also the commitment of various stakeholders such as the private sector, ensuring that students have continuous access to their learning and schooling needs.
In Brunei, the help and support extended by private companies to local schools are significant, particularly during this challenging time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To curb the spread of the virus in the community, all schools had to suspend their physical classroom lessons and switched to studying online from home.
However, not all students have access to the internet and personal computers at home – an obstacle faced by both students and parents.
Thanks to several private companies for their generous contribution, the Ministry of Education has received a handful unit of laptops given to students in need of the equipment to aid their online learning.
Three private companies; Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions BRN, Sprintville Technologies and Joffren Omar Company, are among the companies that played their part towards improving students’ learning experience at home.
All of these companies share the same sentiment that is important for the private sector to support the country’s public education system, believing that growth and development are interdependent among the sectors.
Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions BRN
For Chief Executive Officer of Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions BRN Joerg Schiemann, modern companies live and grow in a healthy symbiosis in order to remain current and sustainable.
“To support the readiness of our future workforce, students within the public education system should gain a better understanding and awareness of the industry standards and expectations early,” he said, whose company donated 16 units of laptop.
As students are leaders, customers and team members of tomorrow, added the CEO, their creativity, ideas, skill, knowledge and outlook define the future of the markets and the attractiveness of the domestic economic environment.
The domestic private sector will also be stronger as the public educational system is more educated and innovative.
Early investment into education reduces the required training investments in the industry afterward since the future team is already advanced entering the workforce, said Schiemann.
Meanwhile, in terms of public-private collaborations in education, the CEO is a supporter of a dual vocational system whereby students work in companies several days a week while studying.
“In this way, students get to acquire practical skills and build up work experience, while bringing fresh innovative ideas and high motivation to the companies,” he said, adding that his nephews have done it in Germany and hired by the companies they worked for during their studies.
Director of Sprintville Technologies Vincent Chok said that it is important for private sectors to support, not just in terms of financial means, but also providing knowledge on the latest, practical and feasible technological advancements and expertise to help create innovation towards all aspects of the public education system.
For him, the private sector should also seek to understand in what ways the delivery of teaching is constantly evolving so as to provide foresight into emerging technology and its potential benefits and challenges.
“Providing any type of support to the public education system is important as it shows our commitment to the future as it shapes our next generation of leaders,” he said, adding that the company donated 50 laptops to students via the ministry.
Education and knowledge transfer is a public good, he added, and the key to nation-building and should be everyone’s responsibility and not confined to the educational institutions.
He also highlighted that the private sector can help to complement the public education system with work-based skills development and training.
Meanwhile, for public and private partnership, the CEO hoped to see more collaboration especially between private and higher education institutions in terms of research and innovation, the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Innovation, Creativity and High Tech Industry, and to attract foreign direct investments from multi-national companies to collaborate and explore in high tech areas.
Joffren Omar Company
The donation of 30 units of laptops to the education ministry, for the local company’s managing director Pg Md Noor Joffren Pg Omar, is a pleasant unplanned initiative, an addition to their existing social responsibility activities.
“We actually planned to have our annual CSR and one of the activities is blood donation. With the current pandemic, we see that is also right to support our local students as there are those who cannot afford to own a laptop,” he said.
Without the right learning tools, added the managing director, students will not be able to study properly, and that the company feels obliged to extend their helping hands
“When we look at Wawasan 2035, one of the objectives is to produce highly educated and skilled Bruneians. So by helping the students, it is hoped that one day they will be highly educated and skilled individuals,” said the 47-year-old businessman.
He also believed that help and assistance should not be done for just one time only.
“If we help these students, once they are highly-skilled, they will in turn help (build) the country (local economy). Recently we became a registered training organisation for an initiative under the energy sector where we will train students to be skilled and industry-ready. With us, our welding programme is UK certified and once students completed their training, they are internationally recognised,” said the managing director.
Furthermore, Pg Md Noor Joffren hoped that more local companies to give more opportunities and provide employment to the locals who are trained either by public or private sectors.
“Unemployment figure in Brunei is quite high for a small population like ours. We have to play a part for both public and private in helping the country, and to also focus on other sectors other than oil and gas such as agriculture, construction and info-communication, among others,” he said, adding that job seekers must be keen to take on any job opportunity and learn from it to gain experience.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN