Brunei Gets its First Microsoft Showcase School
When Chung Hwa Middle School was named Brunei’s first Microsoft Showcase School last year, no one was more thrilled than Principal Kho Guik Lan. The public school, which was established by Brunei’s Chinese community in 1922, provides a trilingual (Chinese, English and Malay) education to its approximately 3100 students.
But Kho and her team are working to ensure that her students are also prepared for the 21st century workplace.
“What’s the point in worrying about our past?” Kho says. “I encourage my students and teachers to invent a new, better tomorrow instead of worrying about yesterday. We are doing immensely well, but I am not relatively content yet. I want to see my school accomplish more heights globally and that’s what I am looking for.”
Chung Hwa students are already making their mark. Students have been recognized as winners in BICTA (Brunei ICT Awards), PRYNSA (Young Scientist Award) and Merit in APICTA (Asia Pacific ICT Award). Kho credits the efforts of her teachers for the wins, but knows that, for Brunei, the best is yet to come.
As a Microsoft Showcase School leader, Kho is very serious about her role in transforming education throughout the country. One recent workshop titled, “Microsoft OneNote: The Classroom Experience,” was put on by the school and attended by area private school teachers. “I was delighted to hear from other schools who applauded our efforts and commented on how skillfully we have adopted technology in education,” Kho notes. “We are also planning a few more workshops, especially to cater to other schools in the country who want to learn to harness technology effectively in imparting knowledge.”
While challenges remain for Brunei’s students, particularly around the accessibility of the Internet and connected devices outside of school, Kho is hopeful. “Technology can become the ‘wings’ that will allow the educational world to fly farther and faster than ever before – if we will allow it,” she says. “We belong to the age where technology is everywhere. We teach in a remarkable time. Each day, when you walk into a classroom, an office, what you see is gadgets, devices everywhere. They play a prominent part in making this world a better place.”
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Kho Guik Lan!
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
Throughout my career as a Principal, there have been many such memorable moments, I thank God for blessing me profusely. When my school students successfully achieve great results in GCE ‘O’ Level Examinations, such as ‘Top in the World’ or ‘Top in Brunei’ I feel so delighted.
The most significant moment happened last year, November 6th 2014, the day when I received an email, affirming that our school had been recognized as a Microsoft Showcase School for 2015. Being chosen among 160+ elite schools across the world that have shown excellence in harnessing technology in education is an awesome experience.
Our excitement doubled as we happened to be the first Microsoft Showcase School in Brunei Darussalam. Our school has always been a pioneer among Brunei Schools. We use ICT in all levels, we use trilingual education and we possess many vibrant qualities. But this title has brought us under the limelight of the world. We are immensely happy, we understand the credibility of being a Showcase School and at the same time, we are working harder to fulfill our commitments.
Our school is a nonprofit Chinese minority school in Brunei. The chairman of the board of directors and board of directors are always willing to provide us with infinite support.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
As I said, Chung Hwa Middle School had always been ahead of other schools in the country. I believe relentlessly in technology integrated education. Likewise, I always ask my teachers to remember that they are here to nurture the leaders and citizens of tomorrow’s world and by teaching them skills along with knowledge building, they help them to shape and change the world.
We have carried out different projects — from enabling young entrepreneurs to digital savvy students who create apps. Yet, I am not quite content, I desire to see some projects that solve, provide a breakthrough for some scientific research, and provide more support to projects related to global issues such as poverty, empowerment, etc.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
Like other countries we do have certain challenges. We belong to a world where we are bound by limitations. One of the biggest challenge that we face is technology itself. Managing the network in our school is still a struggle. We have whole school ICT development implemented.
We have established an approach in achieving continual school improvement and sustained adaptive change in the adoption and use of ICT, digital age literacy and 21st-century pedagogies. We have totally transformed our methods to impart knowledge as we have widened our horizons.
We have become attuned to a student-centered learning approach, where we follow different pedagogies. While we have a copious selection of technology available in the market, the cost of procuring them and administering them at school is a big challenge. Funds, and training our teachers to use, them requires more time.
While we have upgraded software and our PCs run Windows 8.1 OS and Office 365, not all of our have access to this technology. Again, our challenges can be a setback. Though students can easily obtain Office 2013, some students do not have access to the Internet and devices. We are trying to overcome these issues and hopefully we will be able to run what have planned in the near future.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
The need to transform education has never been greater. I would like to visualize that in years to come, students will be more fervent in learning beyond their classrooms. With technology, we have already expanded the parameters in learning. Tools like Skype and Lync have provided a new platform for learning and the revolution in education is inestimable.
We can practice anytime, anywhere learning with ease as we see the advancement in technology. Pedagogies like 1:1 learning, the flipped classroom, BYOD, personalized learning, and project-based learning create a new, innovative atmosphere where students can develop their skill and shape their future easily. With tablets filling the market and classrooms, digital literacy is all set to go. I imagine a world of pure progression.
About Kho Guik Lan
Principal, Chung Hwa Middle School, BSB
- Birthplace: Sarawak, East Malaysia
- Educational background: Master of Educational Administration, Australia
- Website I check every day: E-newspaper, CNN, TED
- Favorite childhood memory: Rushing to borrow books from the school library.
- Favorite book: Reboot your Life, Books from Chicken Soup for the Soul
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype, OneNote, Office 365, Lync
- What is the best advice you have ever received? You don’t have to be better than everybody else, you strive to be better than you ever thought you could be!