Ensuring rural students not left behind

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds


TEACHING approaches that encourage inquiry-based learning are crucial in reaching out to students in a district where there is a significant rural population whose first language is not English, an award-winning teacher said.

Sylvia Bernardette Buma, Belait’s sole recipient of the special mentions award for teachers, on Friday said rural students provided a challenging task itself as English is not their mother tongue, whereas it was the language of delivery for the Science subject.

“Many students come from the rural area, most of them are from Mukim Bukit Sawat or from the Sg Mao area but even Sg Liang itself has these populations,” said Buma, who teaches Year Five and Six Science at Sg Liang Primary School.

The 30-year-old believed that creative teaching approaches would eventually bear results in the longer term, based on early evidence from her own students.

“At first, most of them are very shy and tend to speak in Malay. But using the English medium has slowly improved their literacy and at the same time the kids can actually talk to us. I can see that their communication and leadership skills can be seen in my students.”

“I have to do something different with these students of different abilities… We are now trying out Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) in schools throughout Brunei, in which we are trying out many new teaching techniques,” said Buma, who is also an IBSE trainer.

An example, she explained, was the use of a new methodology model of teaching Science that introduced new activities and challenging questions for students.

“This encourages a high order of thinking in students and makes them think beyond the lessons.”

According to her, this also translated into tangible results as teachers at her school have noticed a gradual improvement in examination scores after implementing the new methodology.

Buma was one of the 20 teachers who received the special mention award from the Minister of Education in a ceremony on Friday at Pusat Insani, Belait.

She believed a quality shared among the award recipients was a positive mindset towards the teaching and learning of students, which meant that teachers should see students as capable of success.

“To me, no child should be left behind. It doesn't matter where they come from.

“I think everyone has the chance to go further in the teaching profession… it depends on how they (the Department of Schools inspectorates) see us. I'm actually very new, only teaching for eight years so age doesn't matter,” she said, dismissing teaching experience as a factor for consideration for the award.

Buma said the award had come as a surprise to her family, as her elder sister – a Mathematics teacher at Panaga Primary School in Seria – had received the same award two years ago.

“As an educator, there's still a long way for me to go and I hope that with this positive award, I can prove that I can do better in the near future.”

The Brunei Times