Award recognition for contribution to the nation


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: In conjunction with the 22nd Teacher’s Day celebration yesterday, YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pg Hj Mohd Yusof bin Pg Hj Abdul Rahim and Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Md Zain bin Hj Serudin were honoured with the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Education Award in recognition of their enormous contributions towards the development of education in the country, Borneo Bulletin reported.

The award is named after the 28th ruler of Brunei Darussalam, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien who, during his reign, gave serious attention towards general and religious education in Brunei.

The recipients were selected based on their commitment and services rendered. They are among the pioneers who led and moulded early efforts in structuring the country’s educational system. Their contributions are evident up to present day, with their hard work and ideas still implemented in our education system, particularly in terms of general education and religious education.

Speaking to the Bulletin, YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pg Hj Md Yusof shared his experience of being an educationalist, explaining that at 15-years of age, he started his career as an assistant teacher at Bukit Bendera Malay School in Tutong District.

In 1945, he was sent to teach at Kuala Belait Malay School as a trainee, and in 1957 he was appointed as Information Officer at the Information Department.

As a committed educator, YAM Pg Setia Negara Pg Haji Mohd Yusof has contributed vastly, especially in the field of education. The public speaking and debating skills he learnt were later passed down to his students as he trained them in developing their confidence and becoming proficient speakers.

As a progressive educator, he placed priority and emphasised on the importance of learning not only inside the classroom but also outside the classroom. His efforts aimed to enrich students in character building through volunteer organisation activities and youth activities.

Realising that the progress and development of a nation is heavily dependent on the educational background of its people, he was instrumental in sending many local students to pursue their studies overseas, with the hope that they would eventually return to contribute their services to the country.

During his service, he also stressed on the importance of having the Malay language become the official language in Brunei, and placing the Islamic religious education system as the main subject in the national education system.

Meanwhile, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja .Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Md Zain has remarkably contributed his ideas and services in the field of education, paying particular attention to religious education here.

From 1970 to 1986, he was one of the many who spearheaded efforts to expand religious education in the country by introducing the Religious Education Certificate (Sijil Pelajaran Ugama) at Brunei-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level, which enabled students to pursue their studies at Universiti Al-Azhar in Cairo at the time.

He also brought Science stream subjects to Arabic schools, allowing these students to follow any of the science subjects.

“Such efforts allow students to attain not only the Brunei Religious Education certificate or the Brunei Higher Religious Education certificate, but also BGCE ‘O’ and ‘A’, Level certificates,” he explained.

Serving as Minister of Religious Affairs from 1986 to 2010 also opened wide opportunities for Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Md Zain to enhance efforts on the development of religious education in the country, such as the establishment of Islamic Learning Institute in 1988, Muqaddam and Al-Quran classes in all mosques every Friday and Sunday, introduction of pre-school classes at every religious school in the country, and sending students to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr tistaz Hj Awg Md Zain is also focused on writing religious books, literature and culture. He has produced several academic books, among them Zainul Talib and Zainul Insan, which are still used at religious schools.

“In the effort to write the two books, I applied for special leave of 166 days to allow me to focus on research, studies and compiling the information,” he explained.