CfBT was engaged in 1985, following the introduction of a national bilingual education programme, to provide the Ministry of Education with native English speaking teachers to supplement the numbers of local teachers and to improve the standards of English language teaching in primary schools.
CfBT is contracted to provide 75 primary teachers working in schools which vary in size from 100 to 1000 students, with the norm being less than halfway between these figures. The largest primary school operates two shifts so that it can accommodate all the pupils. Classes are mixed in terms of ability and sex. The age range nominally is 5 to 12 years. CfBT staff teach mainly reception age students and new teachers can expect to be teaching at this level or at lower primary. Class sizes are usually 25-30. Currently all CfBT primary teachers are working on the morning shift (7.15 - 12.30) and can expect to have to be in school for two afternoons a week for extra-curricular activities or further teaching (1.30 - 4.30).
The education system is traditional, with examinations and tests featuring regularly in the school calendar. Teaching styles and classroom practices generally reflect this traditional stance and may appear outdated. However, CfBT staff have been able to introduce more modern techniques and materials. CfBT employees, in conjunction with Macmillan and the Curriculum Development Department of the Ministry of Education have produced an English textbook series specifically for Brunei's Primary schools.
Photocopying facilities are limited, although most schools have Reisograph machines for multiple worksheets and test paper printing. Audio-visual aids are generally limited and library facilities vary enormously from school to school. Teachers participating in the Ministry of Education English Project for Pre-School receive additional resources.
Although motivation may be lacking amongst some students and discipline can be a problem at times, CfBT staff have managed to increase both the interest and confidence of their students and have found the experience positive and satisfying. As in many other professional settings, it is the teachers who take the time and trouble to initiate new learning experiences for their students who earn the respect of their colleagues and affection of their students.
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