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Case study

English language teaching in Brunei - supporting bilingual education

Brunei

Education Development Trust, formerly CfBT Education Trust, has been working with the Ministry of Education in Brunei under the name of CfBT Education Services (B) Sdn Bhd since 1984. We lead the world's largest, longest running and most successful native English-speaking teacher scheme. We recruit top quality native-English-speaking teachers to teach in Brunei's schools and build capacity within the educational system.

Overview

 

In Brunei, Standard Malay, is the official language, but English is viewed as the principal language of business. The Bruneian government began its bilingual education policy, or Dwibahasa, soon after independence in 1984. English medium instruction is mandatory for all students commencing in Year 1 of primary school in the key subject areas of Mathematics, History, Science and Geography as well as English.

Since then, the Bruneian government has remained committed to its bilingual education policy, and our relationship with the government has strengthened and widened in scope from a key recruiter of high quality teachers, to developing a range of English-related education, assessment and professional development projects across Brunei.

Our approach

 

Our work with the Bruneian government has contributed significantly to developing our authority and expertise in English Language Teaching. We recruit and manage specialist qualified teachers of English to work in government schools. We deploy 300 English language teachers, trainers, mentors and managers in more than 75% of Brunei's schools and work with more than 90% of its school-age learners.

Our work in Brunei has four main priorities:

  • to increase the English proficiency and attainment levels of Bruneian students
  • to improve the delivery of high impact teaching which promotes student involvement
  • to build the capacity of Bruneian English teachers
  • to support Brunei's Ministry of Education in delivering effecting English language teaching

In addition to our core responsibility of providing experienced and highly qualified teachers, we support a range of English-related projects to improve language learning both within and beyond the curriculum. We have developed a number of materials for a range of age groups, either through supporting the Ministry of Education's development of English Language course books, or through in-house publications, or through English Language Teaching software. We also work in partnership with local educational institutions, companies and associations for events, research, English language teaching conferences and corporate social responsibility projects.

Our achievements

 

Education Development Trust, as CfBT Education Services (B) Sdn Bhd, has helped the Bruneian nation achieve exceptional English language performance. Brunei is now ranked second in Asia for English language proficiency outperforming six of the seven top ranking Asian nations and territories in the PISA 2012 rankings (Shanghai China, Hong Kong China, Korea, Japan and Macau China).  

Our solution has resulted in a transformation of performance in the internationally benchmarked English language Cambridge O-Level assessment with more than half of the government school student cohort obtaining grades equivalent to native speaker level(A* - C).

During 2012/13, we commissioned academics from the Department of Education, University of Oxford to conduct an independent evaluation of our English teaching programme, in particular looking at the teaching of English as an additional language in the bilingual system and our involvement as an external education provider and change agent.

The evaluation identified six 'evolutionary paths':

  1. Bilingual education policy in Brunei demonstrated a consistent focus on promoting bilingual education.
  2. There has been strong consensus in Brunei on the need to encourage higher levels of English attainment to promote economic competitiveness, recognising English as a crucial 'tool' for the 21st century.
  3. The MoE-CfBT relationship has changed, evolving from a recruitment link into a bilingual education partnership.
  4. Programmes targeting student outcomes and attitudes have moved from pockets of good practice to national-level reach.
  5. Programmes targeting teaching practice, professional development and capacity building for both CfBT and Bruneian language teachers have been key to developing a collaborative working relationship between CfBT and the Bruneian government.
  6. Building the infrastructure and the potential for school- and system-wide improvement, the relationship has evolved into one where CfBT expertise is focused on capacity building as well as capacity providing.

The report stated that these evolutionary paths, when taken together, "have created the potential for system-wide improvement and helped Brunei to move to being 'a generation ahead' of its near neighbours, in terms of the approach to bilingual education, and achieving improvement in students' English that are needed to support economic development".

I acknowledge and value the contribution made by [Education Development Trust] CfBT in working together with the Ministry of Education to provide quality education particularly in uplifting Bruneian students' achievements in English language.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong
Minister of Education, Brunei Darissalam

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