Education in Brunei Darussalam

Joined Commonwealth: 1984

Population: 412,000 (2012)

GDP p.c. growth: –0.3% p.a. 1990–2012

UN HDI 2012: World ranking 30

Net primary enrolment: 95.7% (2012)

Net secondary enrolment: 94.7% (2012)

Gross tertiary enrolment: 24.3% (2012)

Adult literacy: 95.4% (2012)


Public spending on education was 3.3 per cent of GDP in 2012.
The Brunei Vision 2035 embodies the goal of a well-educated, highly skilled society with a world-class education system that promotes lifelong learning. Towards this end, the Ministry of Education has adopted three major themes in its five-year strategic plan 2012-17: quality education; teaching and learning excellence;
and professional, accountable and efficient organisation. As well as substantial investment in public education, the plan acknowledges the contribution of the private sector in growing the education system in the country. There are already 115 private schools, covering all age levels.

The primary component of a new education system was introduced during 2009-11. Referred to as the National Education System for the 21st Century or SPN21, the new system is broad-based and provides multiple pathways enabling students with different skills and abilities to survive in a fast-changing world. Under this system, there are six years of primary school, starting at the age of six and leading to Primary School Assessment, or Penilaian Sekolah Rendah, and, depending on academic ability, either four or five years of secondary school, leading to the Brunei-Cambridge or London Edexcel International GCE O-Level exams.

The Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) provides courses taught in Malay and English. On the establishment of the UBD in Bandar Seri Begawan in 1985, local pursuit of degree courses became possible.
The government, nevertheless, continued to award scholarships to qualified Brunei citizens to undertake courses of study not yet available at UBD and many Bruneians continue their studies in other Commonwealth countries or other countries such as the USA. Other institutions at tertiary level include the Jefri Bolkiah College of Engineering at Kuala Belait; and the Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University and Institut Teknologi Brunei at Gadong, Bandar Seri Begawan. The female-male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.70:1 (2012). There is virtually no illiteracy among people aged 15-24.