The impact of the resources event in May this year has continued as more teachers visit and make use of the resources portal.
However, the journey to develop these resources was not without its challenges. Alisa Gin, the Primary Education Development Manager at CfBT, played a key role in this project. Her journey with CfBT began 14 years ago when she arrived in Brunei in June 2009. Initially, she worked as a primary teacher in one of the schools in the Belait District, teaching three large Pra classes. After only six months of teaching, her career took off when she successfully applied for the role of Education Project Manager, now known as Education Development Manager, in April 2010.
Although she initially intended to work for only 18 months, she found herself enjoying her work and life in Brunei. Being closer to her home country, New Zealand, and having the convenience of travelling to Malaysia and neighbouring countries to visit her family were additional benefits. Alisa also cherished the hot tropical weather and the opportunity to immerse herself in Brunei’s beautiful rainforests. At CfBT, she has been overseeing projects that aim to provide high-quality and impactful educational initiatives and outcomes for the children of Brunei. Currently, her research focuses on the English Language Peer Partnership program alongside Jennyfer Townsend.
Alisa’s partner on the project is Adilla Burke, a Secondary Education Development Manager. Before coming to Brunei, Adilla found the hustle and bustle of life in London overwhelming, especially as a single mother living five miles away from her school. Moving to Brunei felt like a dream for her, as the country offered a quiet and calm atmosphere.
Everything she needed, including her house and her child’s school, was conveniently located within a few minutes of each other. Adilla has been in Brunei for about five years, and during this time, she worked as a secondary teacher in one of the schools in Bandar.
Despite the school being labelled as low attaining, she loved her experience there. Coming from one of the disadvantaged areas in London where academic priorities were lacking, Adilla felt a strong connection to this school. She believed she could make a significant impact, especially while working with the Head of Department (HOD).
Transitioning into the role of Education Development Manager was not initially on Adilla’s mind. However, an EDM encouraged her to apply when the opportunity arose. Despite some reservations, a heavy workload, and studies, Adilla eventually applied. To her surprise, she was offered the job.
When she took on the role, Adilla was assigned the responsibility of managing the resources.
Adilla did not know where to start, but being a teacher at heart, she began by asking herself questions like, “What would a teacher want in a resources portal? What would the children like?”
She also recognized the difficulty in accessing some of the resources due to poor organisation. To confirm her thoughts, Adilla gathered a group of teachers from each cluster to verify if they shared the same sentiments. She then conducted a survey to identify what teachers thought about the available resources. The results were appalling, but they also provided her with an opportunity for improvement.
Adilla decided to start with the library, assessing what was already available. She also considered the curriculum demands and envisioned a portal where teachers could access digital resources, as this was the way forward. To bring this vision to life, she collaborated with Suhaila from the IT department, starting from scratch to create an easy-to-use and visually appealing portal for the teachers. The portal was launched in August 2022.
Within four months of its launch, 65% of teachers were using the portal as their main source for resources. Adilla diligently sent update emails to the teachers every 2-3 weeks, which meant constantly finding new resources. This success inspired the development of the primary resource portal, which was later handed over to Alisa.
Although Alisa only joined the project this year, Adilla praised her for being easy to work with.
Alisa, too, appreciated the collaborative approach in promoting the resources, where everyone involved contributed their ideas and overcame challenges.
Adilla emphasised that a clear vision of the next steps was crucial after receiving positive feedback from the previous year. The goal was to extend the resources to all English teachers in Brunei, empowering not just CfBT teachers but educators across the country. They aimed to make teachers’ lives easier while ensuring access to quality resources, aligning with the values of inclusion and diversity.
Statistics for June revealed that there were 300 visits to the primary section alone, and even more so in the secondary section. Alisa found it heartening to see CfBT teachers attending the resources event to support their Bruneian colleagues. These teachers had already tested the waters and were becoming experts. They were then able to assist their Bruneian colleagues in navigating their way through it.
Alisa and Adilla’s passion for their work was evident in the way they described the transformational impact they witnessed on the teachers’ performance and their self-efficacy. Seeing teachers becoming inspired to contribute towards positive change energised them the most. Their shared dedication to empowering teachers and helping students reach their full potential was truly inspiring.
Both Alisa and Adilla truly exemplify all the values of CfBT. When asked which value they felt most connected to, both chose integrity. Alisa expressed,
This value also aligns with collaboration.
On the other hand, Adilla felt a strong connection to excellence in addition to integrity, as she constantly strives for it.