The Brunei Government takes education very seriously and is committed to developing a highly literate and suitably skilled workforce to meet the future needs of this small nation as it continues to diversify the economy away from a heavy reliance on gas and oil.
- Education in Brunei
- Choosing a school in Brunei
- Special education needs in Brunei
- Pre-schools, kindergarten and nurseries in Brunei
- Best schools in Brunei
The Brunei government’s focus on education engenders high standards across both the public and private education sectors. Indeed, with a literacy rate of 98 per cent, Brunei gives its citizens free education from kindergarten through to secondary school and optional tertiary education beyond that. However, the state sector is neither readily available nor appropriate for most expat children. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that primary, secondary and university education is through the medium of English – a reflection of the long-standing and close relationship between Brunei and the UK.
All international schools in Brunei follow a secular curriculum. Religious schooling is only mandatory for Bruneian Muslim students aged 7 to 14, carried out separately in the afternoons. Most expat children will use this part of the day for extra-curricular activities or private study time.
In relation to transport, precious little use is made of school busing in Brunei. This is because there is a very strong car culture, underpinned by amazingly cheap fuel prices, easy car finance and a limited public transport network. So, most parents will ferry their children to and from school, fitting these duties around their own day. This causes traffic congestion at peak hours in and around many schools but it’s a small inconvenience you just have to get used to.
Of the private sector schools in Brunei, only four can be classed as truly international – on the basis of curriculum, exams and range of expat staff.
The two largest, all-through (from nursery to 18 years old) schools are situated in what is called the Brunei Muara District (ie close to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan): Jerudong International School (JIS) and International School of Brunei (ISB). Both follow the English curriculum (only up to IGCSE at ISB), are authoritatively inspected (by Penta and CIS respectively). Both are members of the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) and are ‘Green Flag’ schools. In addition, JIS received COBIS accreditation in 2022.
Although this makes for a strictly limited choice, they both have modern campuses and on top of this, the enviable exam results mean that if you are a Brit you don’t have to be parted from your children if you are posted here – more difficult, but certainly not impossible, if you need to dip in and out of the American (or any other) system.
At the other end of the country – in Kuala Belait/Panaga/Seria - are Panaga School (Nursery to Year 8), only for the children of Shell families; and Hornbill School (Nursery to Year 6), only for the children of UK forces families in the country. In this area of the country, only ISB’s kindergarten and primary branch campus in Kuala Belait is open to all.
One option for some expats is the Seri Mulia Sarjana International School (SMSIS) in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) which claims to be both ‘a uniquely Asian International School and the only ‘Cambridge Primary School’ in Brunei. It follows a Bruneian curriculum in its secondary school. Another is Chung Hwa Middle School if you are looking for a Chinese school that provides a tri-lingual learning environment to secondary level but with largely a local curriculum and exams.
Due to the size of the country, the range of support for children with neurodiversity issues is limited. All the schools that we review do supply additional learning support which is provided by trained staff. Although academic standards are high at both secondary schools, ISB has a more inclusive approach.
Families should always contact schools well in advance of any move to discuss the specific needs of their children.
For younger children, where curriculum is not yet an issue and the convenience of location more important, there a handful of good private kindergarten and mission / primary schools taking children up to year 6. For a few parents these are an acceptable alternative to starting their children that early at JIS, ISB, Hornbill or Panaga, particularly if one is conveniently nearby. The fees will be lower and the basic curriculum, set by the Brunei Government, allows add-ons eg Montessori.
National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; independent; day and boarding; private non-profit; 1,160 students
Founded in 1986, on a new purpose-built campus in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. The school also runs a small primary school in Kuala Belait, mainly for children of expats working in the oil and gas sector. International Baccalaureate Diploma results on an upward curve and leavers head to a wide range of global universities. Slightly under 50 per cent of pupils are Bruneians, the remainder from over 40 nationalities. Accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS).
Click here to read our full review of the International School of Brunei
National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE/ A Level/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 1,680 pupils
Founded in the 1990’s, a large school on an enormous campus with enviable facilities. Ratio of expats: Bruneians, approximately 60:40. Only school in Brunei offering A Levels and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, both pathways producing impressive results. Games compulsory from years 3-9 but no outside network for competitive sports. World-class arts and drama provision and even a recording studio in the music department. Inspected by Penta for British Schools Overseas (BSO).
Click here to read our full review of Jerudong International School.
These schools have been brought to our attention, but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them.
National Curriculum for England; ages 0- 11; co-ed; day; Independent: private, non-profit (British Forces primary school); Kuala Belait-Seria
Hornbill School is a British Forces primary school that provides a British education for children of British Servicemen and Servicewomen, and Civil Servants, of ages 0 to 11.
National Curriculum for England; ages 2-12; co-ed; day; Independent: private non-profit; Kelua Belait-Seria
ISB Seria is a primary only, satellite campus of the International School Brunei (ISB), the oldest international, not-for-profit, English-medium co-ed school in Brunei thar offers a British curriculum.
National Curriculum for England; ages 2-13; co-ed; day; Independent: privately owned (Brunei Shell Petroleum); Kuala Belait-Seria
Panaga School is a Shell School, owned and operated by Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) for children of BSP, and BSP joint venture, employees of ages 2 to 13.