247 youths join second PKBN

National 3 minutes, 17 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A TOTAL of 247 youths took their pledge yesterday to form the second official intake of Brunei’s national service programme, Program Khidmat Bakti Negara (PKBN).

The number – comprising 151 male and 96 female trainees – represented the largest intake since the inception of the programme, which involved three pilot intakes before the first official intake. The first intake of 133 youths saw the graduation of 122 trainees after their three-month programme earlier this month.

The size of the intake reflected the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports’ (MCYS) efforts to meet the demands of parents and guardians wanting to enrol their children into PKBN, despite the capacity limitations currently faced at the temporary PKBN camp in the sports village in Berakas.

A permanent training camp at Temburong district would be able to accommodate up to 700 individuals in a single intake, once it is completed, MCYS Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar reiterated yesterday.

Launching the second intake at the National Indoor Stadium, the permanent secretary anticipated that more will be joining this intake, and acknowledged the “earnest” efforts of some parents in getting their children their mandatory health tests at the last minute to join the programme.

“This ministry is always working to increase its capacity to fulfil the demands of parents and guardians (and) to make the participation of their children a reality. At the same time, the organisers have to operate within the limitations and capacity that are present,” he said.

There were currently 68 facilitators looking after the 16-21 year olds: 30 personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, one from the Royal Brunei Police Force, 12 graduates from Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College, 11 Outward Bound Brunei Darussalam (OBBD) personnel, 13 professional volunteers and one daily-paid staff from MCYS.

The PKBN training is based on four concepts that involve national and religious identity building; physical and disciplinary training; entrepreneurship; and community service.

The programme saw the trainees learn aspects from national philosophy to law, and the country’s constitution, map reading and arms training, financial management and basic agriculture, and the importance of the environment.

The permanent secretary said past trainees had gained new experiences, such as physical tests, which were not only a source of satisfaction and self-pride, but also represented a “victory” that brought about a positive change.

“They return to their families… (as) individuals who are loving, responsible and courteous,” he said.

It was envisioned that in the long term, they would become a generation of youths who were highly disciplined and would support the Malay Islamic Monarchy philosophy, National Vision 2035 and establish a Zikir Nation, he added.

Dato Hj Mohd Hamid also said PKBN trainees would be given priority to join courses at the Youth Development Centre.

As the new trainees looked firmly on, the permanent secretary shared that they would face various challenges in the early stages of the programme.

However, he assured that nearly all the former trainees have been able to overcome these challenges and complete their training.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, a father of one of the trainees said his son came up with the idea himself to join the PKBN.

“I asked him think twice carefully, but he was the one who was willing to do this. So I let him go since it is for his future,” said the retired diplomat.

“It’s a good programme for the youths’ future because they can build themselves,” he added.

Mohd Amir Najmi Hj Moksin, 18, explained his decision to join the PKBN, while waiting for his A Level results.

“I saw it as an opportunity to improve myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I was impressed by the demonstrations during Youth Day and their strict discipline,” the teenager added.

The training will see them carrying out activities at the interim camp in the sports village and OBBD in Temburong, as well as kayaking in waters off Muara and arms training in a RBAF shooting range.

The Brunei Times