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Educational System in Brunei

The one tip that you hear expats living in Brunei repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Brunei. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Brunei is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Brunei.
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Brunei, a small nation on the island of Borneo, is known for its rich culture, lush landscapes, and high standard of living. For expats moving to Brunei, understanding the educational system is crucial for ensuring their children’s smooth transition. The Bruneian education system is highly regulated by the government and offers a blend of academic and religious instruction. This guide will provide an overview of the main stages of education in Brunei, the enrollment process for newcomers, language requirements, public bilingual schools, common types of private schools, and the options for homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Brunei?

The education system in Brunei is divided into four main stages: pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Pre-primary education is optional and caters to children aged 3 to 5. Primary education is compulsory and lasts for six years, catering to children aged 6 to 12. Secondary education is also compulsory and lasts for seven years, catering to students aged 13 to 19. Tertiary education includes vocational and university education.

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education in Brunei is optional and caters to children aged 3 to 5. This stage focuses on developing children’s basic skills and preparing them for primary education. It includes activities that promote physical, emotional, and social development, as well as basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Primary Education

Primary education in Brunei is compulsory and lasts for six years, catering to children aged 6 to 12. The curriculum includes subjects like Malay, English, Mathematics, Science, Islamic Religious Knowledge, and Physical Education. The primary education stage concludes with a national examination, the Primary School Assessment (PSR).

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Brunei is compulsory and lasts for seven years, catering to students aged 13 to 19. It is divided into lower secondary and upper secondary. Lower secondary education concludes with the Brunei Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level examination, while upper secondary education concludes with the Brunei Cambridge GCE ‘A’ Level examination.

Tertiary Education

Tertiary education in Brunei includes vocational and university education. Vocational education provides practical skills and training for various industries, while university education offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in various fields.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Bruneian schools by submitting an application to the Ministry of Education. The application should include the child’s birth certificate, passport, and previous school records. If the application is approved, the child will be assigned to a school based on their residential address.

My children are still learning Malay, can they enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Malay can enroll in public schools in Brunei. However, they may need additional language support as the medium of instruction in public schools is Malay. Some schools offer English as a second language programs to help non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Brunei. These schools offer instruction in both Malay and English, making them a good option for expat children. Admission to these schools is based on academic performance and language proficiency.

What types of private schools are common in Brunei?

Private schools in Brunei include international schools, religious schools, and bilingual schools. International schools follow international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. Religious schools offer Islamic education in addition to the regular curriculum. Bilingual schools offer instruction in both Malay and English.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Brunei typically send their children to private schools, particularly international schools. These schools offer a familiar curriculum and language of instruction, making it easier for expat children to adapt.

How expensive are Private schools in Brunei?

Private schools in Brunei can be quite expensive, with tuition fees ranging from BND 10,000 to BND 20,000 per year. However, the exact cost depends on the school and the grade level.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Brunei?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Brunei. However, parents who wish to homeschool their children must apply for permission from the Ministry of Education and follow the national curriculum.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Brunei?

Yes, children living in Brunei can attend online schools. However, parents should ensure that the online school is accredited and that the curriculum meets the standards of the Bruneian education system.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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