Gov’t mulls releasing bonded scholars to work overseas

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Education will consider releasing bonded government scholars to work overseas if the government is unable to provide them a job in Brunei, its minister said.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said government-bonded scholars may be released if they failed to secure employment in Brunei and have received job offers from abroad.

“Furthermore, they will only be released subject to certain terms and conditions such as requiring them to return home to Brunei to work should a need for their services in the country arise in the future,” he said.

The minister was responding to a question raised by Legislative Council (LegCo) member YB Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah Hj Sulaiman during the second day of the 12th LegCo sitting yesterday.

YB Datin Hjh Salbiah asked whether the recent hiring freeze in the civil service would mean bonded government scholars, such as those categorised to become doctors and teachers, would be released to find employment in the local private sector or overseas.

The minister said the possible release of government-bonded scholars does not apply to those training to be teachers or doctors as there is a need to fill the labour shortage in the country’s medical and teaching professions.

“For government scholars taking medical courses, their services are needed by the government and upon completion of their courses, they will be required to return home and serve with the Ministry of Health.

“Meanwhile, those bonded to serve as teachers will also not be released from their government bonds except in certain circumstances such as the subjects that they teach are no longer needed (by the country) or there are no longer enough students interested to take up the subject,” he added.

When approached by The Brunei Times to elaborate on the matter yesterday, the minister said he will address the matter at a later date.

Earlier, Second Finance Minister YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim said a budget of $35.2 million has been allocated for Ministry of Education scholarships for the 2016/2017 fiscal year, a decrease from $39.6 million in the previous financial year.

During the 11th LegCo session last year, it was reported that 65 scholars had been released from their government scholarship bonds between January 2015 and March 2015.

However, at the time they were only allowed to seek immediate employment in the private sector within the country as a requisite for their release.

Hidayah Idris, one of the 65 scholars who was released last year, said the terms of her release stipulated that she had to serve at least five years in the private sector here before she is allowed to consider job offers from abroad.

“It was explained to us (released scholars) that the reasoning of the five years’ rule is to oblige us to at least give back to the country after having our overseas education entirely funded by the government,” she said in a phone interview.

“However, I am not planning on finding a job overseas as I feel obligated to contribute and help build my country’s economy (in the private sector) especially after so much resources have been expended on my education abroad,” she added.

The Brunei Times