Search

 

Cablegate: Strengthening U.S.-Brunei Education Ties

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBD #0142/01 1290537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD8DE8EB MSI3562-695)
P 080537Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4218
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

UNCLAS BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000142

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PD MCLOUGHLING
DEPARTMENT FOR ECA/A FARRELLTA, ECA/A/E/EAP,
ECA/A/S/A MORADD, ECA/PE/C/PY LEVENSTEINS.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KISL PREL BX
SUBJECT: STRENGTHENING U.S.-BRUNEI EDUCATION TIES


--------------------------
SUMMARY and ACTION REQUEST
--------------------------

1. (U) Ambassador Skodon met with Brunei's Minister of Education,
Pehin Rahman Hj Mohamed Taib, to discuss how the U.S. could
contribute to the Minister's ambitious agenda for educational
reform, including integrating 'American-style' elements and a more
holistic approach to Brunei's education system as well as increasing
student and teacher-training exchanges with the U.S. The minister
noted Brunei's lack of ESL teachers and suggested that highly
qualified American ESL teachers could be part of the solution. The
Minister's upcoming visit to the U.S will be an excellent
opportunity to bolster ties between U.S and Brunei higher education
institutions. To maximize the impact of this visit, post requests
the Department support a call by the Minister on U.S. Secretary of
Education Margaret Spellings. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --
SPN 21 -Brunei's revolutionary education system
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) Ambassador Skodon paid a farewell call on Minister of
Education, Pehin Rahman Hj Mohamed Taib on April 23, accompanied by
Embassy Education/Cultural Affairs Assistant (Shova Thapa). Minister
Rahman briefed on his ambitious reform program titled "21st Century
Education" or in short SPN-21 (Sistem Pendidikan Negara - 21),
which has been headline news locally as the 2008 academic year is
the trial run for the new system. Although SPN 21 will take into
full effect only by the year 2012, changes are already underway
involving structure, curriculum and technical -vocational education.


3. (U) At the primary level, subjects like computer technology
(locally referred to as ICT) and Mathematics for Primary I (Grade 1)
to Primary 3(Grade 3) will be taught in the English language in a
bid to increase students' performance in the related subjects.
Under the new system, student will undergo two years of lower
secondary instead of three years. By 2009, the junior secondary
assessment taken at Form 3 (Grade 9 equiv), also known as PMB will
be dropped, to focus students on preparing for the GCSE'O level
examinations (on the UK system). Following that, students will be
streamed into regular or accelerated paths. The 'fast track'
students will take O levels at the end of Form 4 (Grade 10), with
the majority continuing to do so at the end of Form 5 (Grade 11).
Key features of SPN 21 include a shift from being exam-oriented,
rote memorization-based to active learning which would be suitable
for a broader proportion of Bruneian students.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Brunei - A Potential Niche for American ESL Teachers
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (SBU) Ambassador Skodon inquired about the Ministry's difficulty
in filling over 30 percent of the job slots for ESL teachers. (NOTE:
CFBT (Center for British Teachers), the teacher recruitment agency
contracted with the Ministry to recruit foreign teachers, attend,
with Post's encouragement, the annual TESOL Convention held in NYC
last
month to recruit qualified U.S.-credentialed teachers.
However, when CFBT forwarded the CV's of highly qualified American
teachers to MOE, all applications were rejected due to MOE's
difficulty in understanding the U.S. state-level credentialing of
teachers. END NOTE) Minister Rahman assured that emphasis should not
have been placed on accreditation but rather on the individual
teacher's relevant ESL experience, and that he was still open to
bringing qualified American teachers to Brunei. The Minister also
told Ambassador there was a shortage of teachers in other
disciplines such as arts, drama, singing, and extra curricular
activity.

------------------------------------
More GOB Scholarships for U.S. Study
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Minister is a strong supporter of U.S. education,
telling the Ambassador that he believes that in the coming years,
more GOB scholarships will be directed towards study in the U.S
instead of the traditional destinations of the U.K. and Australia.
The Minister mentioned that he was interested in sending lecturers
from the national university (Universiti Brunei Darussalam) on
graduate and post-doctoral programs to equip them with the 'American
approach' in terms of work ethic, teaching techniques, and moving
towards a greater focus on research.

----------------------------------
Bringing the YES Program to Brunei
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Ambassador asked for the Minister's help in breaking
through bureaucratic delays so that the Youth Exchange and Study
(YES) Program could begin sending high school level students on
exchanges to the U.S. The Minister was surprised to learn that his
staff had turned down an invitation to attend the annual YES
workshop in the U.S. and stated his support for further
consideration of initiating the Program in Brunei.

7. (U) (COMMENT: For FY08, Post had transferred its 10 slots to
Malaysia as the Bruneians could not confirm participation for the
program. Some of the issues of concern from the Ministry staff are
the program duration and timing especially for O-level students.
Together with AFS Malaysia, Post will continue to work with the MoE
to explain the benefits of Brunei participating in the YES program.
END COMMENT).

----------------------
Minister to Visit U.S.
----------------------

8. (SBU) Minister Rahman told the Ambassador that in an effort to
establish collaborative links with U.S. institutions, he and a team
of senior officials will conduct a working visit to the U.S in July.
They currently plan to visit Washington D.C and New York. Post is
working closely with the MOE on his schedue to visit
Universities/Colleges which maybe of ptential interest to Bruneian
students.

-------------------------
COMMENT and ACTION REQUEST
--------------------------

9. (SBU) Given the Mnister's support for University study and
academc exchange in the U.S., as well as his interest on odeling
Brunei educational reforms on aspects ofthe American system, Post
requests the Departmen's support in arranging a meeting with U.S.
Secrtary of Education Margaret Spellings for Minister Rahman.
Faced with an educational system constrained by traditional
approaches to learning, Minister Rahman has been a key supporter of
reform and innovation. A courtesy call on his U.S. counterpart will
help the Minister in his quest to improve education in Brunei and,
indirectly, support our goal of increasing the number of students
seeking U.S. higher education from this moderate Muslim nation.

SKODON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC