Brunei, US hiring English teachers for ASEAN project

The ASEAN logo is found in front of the Peace Palace, the main venue of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations annual ministerial meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh last July 10. Picture: EPA

Friday, July 13, 2012

BRUNEI and the United States are currently recruiting qualified English language teachers, from the respective countries, to teach at higher learning institutions in ASEAN under a US$25 million joint project funded by the Brunei government, the US State Department said yesterday.

"Planning is also underway for a regional forum on English education for ASEAN integration and an online community resource for English language educators and experts," the State Department said in statement on its website dated July 11, 2012.

Both countries were also slated to host three-month English courses in September this year for government officials and teacher trainers from the ASEAN member states, to "enhance professional communication skills, explore current issues impacting the region, and learn the latest in information technology".

The State Department said that US will be hosting the workshops in Hawaii, while equivalent workshops will also be held in Brunei during that month.

Announced in November last year, Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN is an ambitious five-year initiative funded by the Brunei government and reflects a commitment to help unify the diverse members of ASEAN, improve English language capacity, and advance educational and teaching opportunities in the region".

"People-to-people exchanges under this programme will empower participants with better English language, diplomatic, and teaching skills," the statement said.

The "implementing partners" of the project from the two governments, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and the East-West Center (EWC) in Hawaii signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month.

It was previously reported then that the two institutions aimed to improve the level of English in ASEAN through the building and strengthening of English teaching capacity, assisting ASEAN participants in developing new skill-sets such as ICT literacy and increasing the ASEAN participants' people-to-people linkages through interaction in the programmes.

During the signing ceremony held at UBD on June 11, Brunei-US Project Executive Dr Salbrina Sharbawi, the Director of the university's Continuing Education Centre said the five-year project would be carried out in phases. In the initial phases, representatives from UBD and EWC travelled to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to assess the needs in English language development in those ASEAN nations.

"The goals of the needs assessment activities are to identify and engage key institutions to foster participation and assess the areas of need for current or planned efforts to build English capacity as well as to gather data and materials for the second phase of the project, the Curriculum Development," Dr Salbrina said then.

The third or "Implementation Phase" comprised an 11-week English programme, which will see the participation of some 70 teacher-trainers as well as officers and diplomats from the 10 ASEAN countries, she added.

"Some countries have quite solid English language skills...but there are other countries like Cambodia, Laos, which experienced French colonialism, and don't have nearly as much English language facility," EWC President Dr Charles Morrison told the press here in January this year.

"So for those countries to be fully involved in ASEAN cooperation and integration process, they need to have more skills," he had added.

"English language capability is directly tied to economic prosperity as it facilitates international commerce, clear diplomatic communication, scientific exchange and education linkages. This programme demonstrates a clear commitment on the part of the United States and Brunei to advance opportunities in the ASEAN region," the State Department said in yesterday's statement.

The Brunei Times