HM okays student loan facility
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has approved an education loan facility to help students pursue higher education locally or overseas, even though they do not meet the government scholarship criteria.
This loan scheme will cover tuition fees and living expenses, making higher education more affordable for Bruneians, the monarch said yesterday in his annual birthday titah at Istana Nurul Iman.
His Majesty highlighted several new government policies — covering new initiatives in education, economic growth and local employment — during a special event at the palace to mark his 68th birthday celebrations.
The monarch said that he had also approved a supplementary fund of $220 million to hire foreign teachers to address the weaknesses in English and Mathematics among students in the country.
He added that the government was concerned about creating quality manpower, and would provide a scheme to attract world-class academics to build Brunei’s human resources.
To this end, the government has established the Institute of Brunei Technical Education, merging the campuses of seven technical schools, to spearhead development in technical education. “This is essential to produce a pool of highly-skilled and marketable workers to prepare for global economic challenges.”
His Majesty said his government has taken various efforts to accelerate economic growth, and that Brunei aims to enter the world’s top 10 in terms of per capita income.
In order to do this, the economy must grow at a rate of five to six per cent per annum, increasing national income from $20 billion to $80 billion by 2035.
“I am calling on all those, in the public and private sectors, to multiply their efforts to achieve the target,” the monarch said.
He noted that efforts to attract “quality foreign direct investment” into the country had shown “positive early signs.”
The sultan has also approved the establishment of the _Majlis Wawasan _2035 (Vision Council 2035), which will work closely with government agencies to realise the 2035 targets.
He highlighted several new industrial developments, including the opening of a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant; the Canadian Aeronautical Engineering multi-purpose training centre; the Bio Innovation Corridor; as well as the upcoming construction of an oil refinery on Pulau Muara Besar.
All these developments have the potential to strengthen the economy and create job opportunities.
With approximately 65 per cent of the workforce comprising foreigners, the monarch stressed the need to balance the recruitment of local and foreign workers.
He said a new policy would be implemented in stages to limit foreign labour quotas.
“Taking into consideration the existing unemployment rate it is incumbent upon us to have a policy to fill up jobs in a well-balanced manner.”
His Majesty said the government has been successful in reducing unemployment, particularly in the energy sector. In 2014 alone, it has been able to provide 3,000 jobs for Bruneian youth within the oil and gas industry.
His Majesty expressed Brunei’s deep sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people, whose “peace and security has been taken away from them by an inhuman enemy”.
His Majesty strongly condemned Israeli actions in Gaza,describing the bombing of the civilian population as “heartless criminal atrocities”.
“The enemies are so heartless to massacre helpless children, women, the elderly and others among the innocent civilian population. They also wiped out buildings, homes and, without exception, places of worship and schools, committing such criminal atrocities without regard for the sacred month of Ramadhan, when Muslims were observing their obligatory fast.”
The Brunei Times