BRUNEI’s first Arabic school, the Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Secondary School for Boys (SMALHB), celebrated its 50 years of existence on Wednesday with a thanksgiving ceremony attended by over 500 students, alumni and members of the school big family.
In a solemn and sincere show of gratitude towards the Almighty Allah for His guidance and blessings that have helped the school to achieve what it is today, those attending the ceremony recited Surah Al-Fatihah, Yassin, Tahlil and Doa Kesyukuran (thankgiving) prayers. Since 1967, no less than 10,000 students have enrolled in the school and have gone through several education system transformations.
It was Almarhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, the late father of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who aspired to establish the first Arabic school to help realize his vision of producing young generations who are not only knowledgeable religiously, but also in general subjects of knowledge that would enable them to achieve the best life here and in the hereafter and to contribute their best for the good of the nation.
The late Sultan emphasised in his titah delivered during the foundation laying ceremony of the first Arabic school on September 24, 1964, that the school should produce students who are not only knowledgeable religiously, but also in general subjects to enable them to further their education locally or abroad in an effort to improve the quality of the country’s human resources.
Being a visionary leader, the late Sultan was widely acknowledged as the Architect of Modern Brunei, and the one who laid a strong foundation in education development in Negara Brunei Darussalam. With his far-sighted thought, the late Sultan had implemented a well-balanced education policy by focusing on Islamic religious teaching as well as promoting general education. This policy has succeeded in producing local intellectuals of quality.
It is His Majesty, who later constantly and ambitiously continues his father’s legacy through the establishment of more Arabic or religious schools. His Majesty has since made numerous titahS stressing the need for Arabic schools in the Sultanate to, among others, produce graduates that must be able to advance their studies not only on Islamic teachings and knowledge but also in other fields such as of medicines, engineering and others at universities in Egypt and other countries. In a titah delivered on Nov 23, 1991, His Majesty stressed that (Arabic schools) must not only produce graduates who would later on become ulama (Islamic scholars) but also scientists, pharmacists and other Islam-oriented professionals.
The signing of an agreement for a mega project by the Ministry of Religious Affairs early this month with contractors to build three religious schools worth $99 million is an apparent proof of the ambition of His Majesty’s government to further develop religious education in the country. This shows the monarch’s strong desire to provide our young generations with the best possible platform that would instill in them a strong basis of Islamic knowledge so as to make them persistent or istiqomah with their faith or aqidah. It is indeed these bases that would make them tough and resilient in facing the outside propaganda and Western influence as well as the various challenges brought upon by the advanced information technology and modernization.
Various scholarships, including the prestigious Sultan’s Scholars, have also been offered by the Government of His Majesty where students and graduates of Arabic schools have equal opportunities as those from the general schools.
We have seen encouraging achievements made by Arabic and religious schools in the country, but, of course, there is still room for improvement. We must not be complacent with all the achievement. All stakeholders, especially the related authorities and the Arabic and religious schools must work hard together and exert to the best they can to help the students and graduates to strive for excellence. The authorities and the schools management should always improve the curriculum, which is crucial in producing religious graduates who should also pursue to have profession as doctors, engineers, It experts, journalists and so on.
They must strive for excellence to develop the country and not throw away their knowledge and experience once they finish schooling. The students and graduates must not forget that the country needs knowledgeable people in Islamic teachings and that the government has been investing a lot for various development programmes, like sending them to learn more about the religion and secular subjects at institutions abroad.
Religious education is so important that it must be developed further and promoted to a higher level to produce the truly God-fearing and God-loving generations, who love the Quran and Islamic knowledge as they love the general knowledge; generations whose hearts and minds are always attached to the mosque and the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Only by achieving these qualities can we realise His Majesty’s aspiration of transforming the country into a Zikir Nation. InsyaAllah
The Brunei Times/Editorial
Fri, 14 November 2014