HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam together with Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha met thousands of Bruneians in the United Kingdom yesterday in a gathering at the Hilton on Park Lane Hotel, London.
During the meet-and-greet event, His Majesty delivered a titah expressing concern over several issues relating to students on government scholarships.
The monarch questioned some of the students’ commitment as well as loyalty to the government and country, drawing attention to those failing in their studies, students who change courses and scholarship recipients requesting to be released from their bond in public service.
“All of these have the potential to jeopardise the government’s plan,” said His Majesty, noting that such issues remain prevalent among students despite frequent reminders and encouragement.
His Majesty emphasised that Brunei needs well-educated citizens with strong leadership and ethics in order to achieve the government’s objective of producing the human resources that are required by the nation.
The monarch also commended the Multiple Mini-Interview that was introduced by the Ministry of Education this year in a bid to root out unpatriotic students.
Under the new initiative, candidates for government scholarships are assessed in terms of academic achievement as well as their commitment and loyalty to the country. The Multiple Mini-Interview aims to ensure that “only truly worthy” students are granted government scholarships.
His Majesty added that the ministry should monitor the types of courses that candidates have applied for in order to avoid a mismatch between educational skills and workforce needs.
“Some students have deliberately chosen courses which are not offered in local universities in order to apply for scholarship to study abroad,” said the monarch, pointing out that the education-workforce mismatch is one of the contributors of unemployment.
An estimated 18,000 youth in Brunei are unemployed including those with higher education. From 2001 to 2011, the number of jobseekers with higher education has doubled from 470 to 968.
To curb rising employment figures, His Majesty announced the establishment of a special body tasked with preparing the country’s human resource planning policy. The body will serve as a platform for the ministries and private agencies to provide estimates of their required workforce.
The monarch also wanted a new scholarship policy to be put in place to ensure that the students are worthy recipients of government scholarships.
To wean off dependence on the government for employment, the students were encouraged to be entrepreneurial. His Majesty also advised them to remain steadfast when faced with negative influences in the form of religion or ideology.
“There was news of a student who adopted a particular ideology to the extent that the student has abandoned his family and country for decades,” said the monarch.
His Majesty prayed for Bruneian students to be protected from such occurrences, explaining that it is important for the students to adhere to the pure teachings of Islam and to follow developments in the homeland, particularly on measures to implement the Syariah Penal Code Order.
After the titah, the monarch presented the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Chancellor’s Scholar to two top PhD students.
The recipients of this year’s prestigious scholarship award were Hj Abd Hanif Dato Paduka Hj Mahadi, a PhD student in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and Siti Nornadhirah Hj Amdani, who will be pursuing a PhD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Oxford.
During the gathering, Their Majesties also received a pesambah from the president and vice president of the Brunei Students’ Union in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland respectively.
Their Majesties then met approximately 2,600 citizens and residents of Brunei, comprising students, government officials on duty and on courses as well as those who were on vacation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah.
Other members of the Royal Family in attendance were His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Nasibah. Prior to the meet-and-greet event, Their Majesties attended an afternoon tea with officers from the Brunei High Commission in London and several students who achieved excellent results.
The Brunei Times
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