BRUNEI's good education system and infrastructure provide the right environment for the newly launched e-Hijrah strategy, said an ICT expert from Jordan.
"Brunei has a strong base in education, if you look at the system they are very competent with many other countries in the world," said Hussein Al Zahrani, advisor and consultant in education transformation policy, planning and implement to Middle East governments.
He has served as Director General of ICT and Development at the Ministry of Education in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In the interview with The Brunei Times yesterday at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Hussein noted that Brunei has 95 per cent of adult literacy and 99 per cent of child literacy.
The schooling services in Brunei is something that one "cannot find in many countries" because education and school books found in government schools were free for the people.
Hussein said that he has had discussions with Brunei's education minister to share experiences.
"We have been talking about ways to maintain and the way to have this project succeed and eliminate factors that would make it fail," Hussein said. "I would help as much as I can from my experiences and help with the implementation later on."
Another invited speaker, Dr Firdaus Ali, a lecturer and researcher at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Indonesia said education was an area that would open up more opportunities for Brunei and e-Hijrah was "the best planning" for the country's education system.
"People may think that Brunei does not need education (improvement) because they (Brunei) are rich due to oil and the population is small," Dr Firdaus said.
However, natural resources such as oil and gas would not last forever compared to good education as a well-educated population will go a long way, he reasoned.
Dr Lorraine Symaco, a senior lecturer at University of Malaya's Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, said Brunei's e-Hijrah initiative is ideal for the country's push towards a 21st century knowledge-based economy, but there are issues that need to be considered.
The education and development specialist said that aside from just providing everyone with ICT skills, "you need to know more", and take into consideration issues such as equity.
Dr Symaco was in town as an invited guest at the e-Hijrah launching and participated in conferences post event to provide commentary and observation.
The e-Hijrah is a holistic plan that looks at the whole schooling system to integrate ICT as a way to improve and transform education.
"I'm not so familiar if all of the towns (in Brunei) have electricity, I have not been briefed on that but that is something that needs to be considered," said Dr Symaco.
She elaborated that those who are in rural areas might be isolated from the rest of the community.
"Those who are in urban centres, who are nearer might have access to ICT but not rural areas," she explained as these fraction of the population might not have basic access to electricity.
Other issues that need to be considered was teacher training on communication.
"We need to train the teachers to be able to communicate well on how to deliver ICT," said Dr Symaco.
There also needs to be a clearer definition of what is meant by wanting ICT literate people, she pointed out. "They (Ministry of Education) would need to define clearly very well what they mean by ICT literate in what level and what aspect, they need to look at quality issues as well as efficiency."
While it is good to keep up with what was happening in other countries it would also be good to focus on main issues such as importance of studying the situation of ethnic minorities to find out what their views are, whether they are capable of being trained on ICT, and whether they have access to the facility, she said.The Brunei Times