Teacher empowerment, as a process that enables teachers’ intrinsic motivation and brings out their innate potential, is of critical importance in modern times. However, the teacher empowerment construct in existing education literature originated in the west, and its dimensions are aligned to the western cultural scenario. The purpose of this study was to understand the behaviours of school leaders, teacher colleagues, students as well as their parents, and themselves, that teachers perceived as empowerment-facilitating and/or empowerment impeding. This study took place in a secondary school in Brunei Darussalam, a private secondary school. This study was designed as a ‘focused ethnography’, a methodological adaptation of the conventional anthropological ethnography. Fieldwork took place over a span of six months. The study concluded that teacher empowerment is relevant to non-western contexts, only if it is adapted to the contextual cultures. Finally, this study asserted that teacher empowerment is a self-driven phenomenon, and that the contextual culture decided the nature and extent of empowerment that can possibly take place in a particular setting.


Teacher Empowerment, Focused Ethnography, Ethnography, Brunei Darussalam, Culture

Author Bio(s)

Shanthi Thomas is a PhD research scholar in Education, at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam. Her research interests include educational leadership, teacher empowerment, motivation and professional development. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: shanthithomas5@gmail.com.


This research was undertaken with the Graduate Research Scholarship awarded by the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam.

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