The Ministry of Education defines inclusive education as “giving all children and students, including those with special needs, an opportunity to learn alongside their peers under the same teaching and learning conditions”. According to the 1992 Education Policy, an inclusive school provides appropriate instruction for all children based on their abilities.
Special education needs
Students with Special Needs (SN) are learners who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, behavioural, communication or sensory impairments and, for this reason, they require appropriate individualized accommodations, while children with special education needs (SEN) have diverse learning abilities, including those who are failing in school. Students with special education needs include all children and youth with learning difficulties.
According to the 2003 Education Order, education was provided in regular schools, but also in expatriate schools (i.e. schools catering for the needs of children with other nationalities), and in special schools, targeted at learners with special needs. Islamic education is delivered in schools to pupils who practice the Islamic religion as a subject of the general education curriculum (art.32).
With the adoption of the 1992 National Education Policy, and the 1994 Special Education Policy, the education system has endorsed an inclusive education approach. Both students with special needs (SN) and special education needs (SEN) are educated in regular settings through an individualized education provision.
In 2008, a Model Inclusive Schools Project (MIS), known as Centres of Excellent Services for Children, was rolled out in selected Primary and Secondary Schools as an example of inclusive education schools, able to cater to the needs of the special needs students. So far, nine primary and secondary schools have been involved in the project and equipped with special rooms and the necessary facilities.
Under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MoCYS), training for children and adults with disabilities is also provided through community-based rehabilitation programmes by the Department of Community Development (DCD) (Pusat Bahagia), located in each district, or through home-based education for children and youth who cannot attend the Centre because they live in rural areas. Currently, two centre-based programms are active, namely, the Basic Orientation Training Programme and the Vocational Training Programme.
Early identification, screening and assessment
Under the Ministry of Health, the Child Development Centres (CDC) support the diagnosis, assessment and therapy of children with disabilities. Among their activities, CDC also provide coordination and professional training for practitioners.
Complementing the 2003 Education Order, the main legal document regulating the education system in the country, is the 2007 Compulsory Education Order ensuring that all children receive at least nine years of formal education, extended to 12 years by the 1992 National Education Policy. Endorsing an inclusive education approach, the Policy sought to provide all children the opportunity to develop their potential by completing at least upper secondary or vocational education. Reaffirming the country’s commitment to Education for All, it has marked a shift in the education provision of the country, overcoming schooling segregation and creating an appropriate learning environment for both children with SN and SEN.
In line with the Long Term National Development Plan, also known as Wawasan Vision 2035, the 2009 National Education System for the 21st Century Strategy (SPN-21) reiterated the Ministry of Education’s mission to provide a holistic education for all. Among its objectives, the recent Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 also aims to provide equal and equitable access to quality education (Strategy 2). To make the system more inclusive and provide universal access to quality learning and educational attainment opportunities, the ESP 2018-2022 intends to, among others, improve inclusion of disadvantaged and at-risk learners.
Disability and Special education needs
The Department of Community Development (DCD) under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) is working on a draft Disability Order to promote the inclusion for persons with disabilities. With a right-based approach, the Order is expected to cover, among others, infrastructure and education.
With the adoption of the 1997 Special education Policy, also called Inclusive education Policy, learners with special needs (SN) can be educated into regular schools with the support of Special Education Needs Assistant (SENA) teachers. Upon a needs assessment, they are provided with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), tailored at their developmental and learning needs, and may include learning support. IEPs are provided also at the secondary education level. In secondary schools, a five-year Pre-Vocational Programme seeks to develop work-related skills.
Students with special education needs may receive education based on IEPs or on Remedial Education Plans (REPs), a structured learning assistance programme, which support learners to gradually acquire the necessary skills to bridge the learning gap and access the regular school curriculum.
Brunei Darussalam ratified the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2006. At the international and regional levels, the country has been involved in different programmes to promote gender empowerment, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Women (ACW), Non-Aligned Movement Institute for the Empowerment of Women (NIEW) and the Commonwealth and cooperate with UN Women.
At the national level, however gender equality in education in not mentioned in any legislative documents. The Outline of Strategy and Policy for Development (OSPD) 2007-2017, among its 50 policy directions, intended to promote equal opportunities for women as part of the Economic Strategy of the OSPD.
Ethnic and linguistic groups
Malay is the official language of Brunei Darussalam (art.82.1 of the Constitution). The 2003 Education Order establishes that Malay and English are the media of instruction, while Arabic may be used in Arabic schools, exceptions may be accepted in appropriate cases (art.19).
Bilingual education has been implemented since 1985 with the Bilingual Education Policy, which allowed to merge Malay- and English-taught school systems.
The state is committed to supporting pupils with scholarships, bursaries, loans or other financial assistance; and to providing accommodation, transport and books (art.33 of the 2003 Education Order). A School Feeding Scheme has been introduced to improve the standard of nutrition for all students in public schools and in school hostels, providing learners from low-income households with breakfasts and lunches.
In 2011, the Ministry of Education introduced Keys to Success Scheme (Miftaahun Najaah) to support socio-economically disadvantaged primary and secondary students. In 2012, another assistance scheme provided hostel accommodation for students from poor households.
In 1994, the Special Education Unit (SEU) was set up under the Ministry of Education. The SEU is responsible for supervising and evaluating services for students with special needs and special education needs in regular classrooms, and for data collection. The service provision is managed with the support of the School-Based Team (SBT), which gathers, among others, Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) or Home-Room (HR) Teachers, regular classroom teachers, special educators, psychologists and other professionals.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MoCYS) also plays an important role in providing support services for special needs. Through the Community Development Department (CDD/JAPEM), it manages welfare homes, training and guidance centres and rehabilitation centres. MoCYS also has its own national database on individuals with special needs. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is involved through the Child Development Centres (CDC) in early need identification and medical referral.
The Ministry of Education collaborates with MoH and MoCYS via the Inter-Agencies Student Progress Meetings, which include interested NGOs, CDC and CDD.
In 2008, the Special Committee on Women and Family Institutions was established to coordinate national activities for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. Chaired by the MoCYS, under the National Council on Social Issues (MKIS), whose members includes the Ministry of Education.
Enhancing the curriculum, providing adequate education infrastructure and ICT services have been identified as key strategic initiatives to strengthen the delivery of primary and secondary education (Strategy 2 – ESP 2018-2022).
Infrastructure and services
Mobility and accessibility for SN and SEN students is managed by the Department of Planning and Estate Management, which adopted a strategy to ensure accessibility and better facilitates in new buildings. Building Improvement of School and Infrastructure (BISAI) project was aimed at modernizing public schools in and at improving accessibility for students with special education needs.
School curricula has been continuously reviewed to ensure relevance. Since the adoption of the 2009 SPN-21, the national curriculum is taught in English, except for Bahasa Melayu, Islamic Religious Knowledge and Melayu Islam Beraj.
Since 1995, the Special Education Unit and University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) have jointly conducted annual in-service training in Special Education Programmes to train regular teachers to become Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) Teachers. SENA Teachers support regular classroom teachers and set up special education programmes and deliver support services. All education personnel receive training on inclusive education awareness, definitions, role and function of the School-Based Team (SBT). Trainings are also opportunities to enhance collaboration across professionals and members of the SBT.
Consisting of School Head or Principals, Class Teachers, SENA Teachers or HRT Teachers, Resource Teachers, Teacher Aides or Relief Teachers, and Parents, SBTs are taskforce, implemented to roll out education programmes for SN and SEN students. The SBT meets regularly to monitor the IEPs and REPs.
To meet the SPN-21 objectives, the SEU has also invested in advanced continuing professional development to equip professional with skills to work with SN and SEN students. The Brunei Darussalam Teacher Academy (BDTA) is responsible for the provision of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to enhance collaborative process, classroom-based practices and research.
The Ministry of Education stores data through the iNEIS database.
The Special Education Unit (SEU) collects data on learners with special education needs in the school system, private and public, and includes information on students’ needs, medical diagnosis, age, gender. In the ESP 2018-2022, the Ministry of Education reaffirmed the importance of data collection and analysis to inform education planning and evidence-based decision-making. The sector is expected to develop an integrated and real-time educational data system.