IGCSE in Bangladesh and its development and prospect

Introduction Initially as GCE at Ordinary Level and Advanced Level, a two-tier examination system was introduced in England at the beginning of the year of 1951. The IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1985. Another examination board, Edexcel offers its own version. The Edexcel GCSE was developed by Edexcel Board.

Recently, Edexcel has renamed GCSE as the Edexcel International GCSE. The IGCSE is principally exam-based, implying that they are not de facto certified “courses”, but rather exams that assess knowledge in individual subjects in the same way as many placement exams, SAT subject tests, etc. Thus, it also provides a viable choice for many home-schooling educators, when one is seeking a qualification alternative to full time schooling. Transition in English-medium school education following IGCSE IGCSE has gained top priority to the International English-medium schools worldwide. IGCSE is taken in over 100 nations by an annual candidate entry of more than 250,000.

English-medium education in international schools has become a progressively significant sector for international student enrolment. Once only the expatriate children belonged to these institutions. They are merely no more in their sole domain. Today over 2.5 million students are seeking a quality, English-speaking education around the globe. Currently, 80% financially solvent parents want their children receive English-medium education. This remarkable change took place 20 years back when international school places were dominated by expatriate children. Presently, English-medium education has also gained immense popularity among affluent sections of the society in Bangladesh. There is a big influx of students into International English-medium Schools in the mega cities of this country. The effect of this demographic change is manifest. Successful outcome of our students in IGCSE education   The Edexcel Higher Achiever Awards are becoming more important for its lofty standards, and each year more Bangladeshi students are winning the highest achievement awards in almost all subjects. Mr. Simon Young, Regional Director of Pearson Edexcel in South East Asia region, was recently in Dhaka to grace The Daily Star O and A Level Awards Programme 2015. During his sojourn, a number of schools and BTEC centres were visited by him in company with the British Council. In an exclusive interview with SHOUT, he voiced how Bangladeshi students are excelling in their academia. “Our Bangladeshi students are amongst the best in the world, and they want to be measured against a global standard, and they achieve outstanding success.” In addition, he was greatly impressed by the academic feat of Bangladeshi students who achieved the highest proportion of awards worldwide, outside of the United Kingdom.

Bangladeshi learners are thriving particularly in mathematics, science and economics. Young echoed, “Year after year, Bangladesh leads the world in achieving the best Edexcel academic results and tops the rankings for students who win places at the world’s top universities. This outstanding national achievement is a testament to the students’ phenomenal hard work, and the dedication of all those involved in the education sector, in particular the schools and teachers.” IGCSE curriculum and its effectiveness IGCSE offers subjects from a variety of areas in Languages, Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Creative, Technical and Vocational. This is intended to make IGCSE suitable for native and non-native students with varying levels of ability. It also allows education to be placed in a localized context, making it pertinent in different regions. Even grade C in IGCSE English satisfies the English proficiency requirements of many institutions of higher education in the UK and other Anglophone states. This qualification has a proven reputation for being an excellent preparation for academia, career and life. It is recognised by top universities and employers worldwide. There are vastly differing tuition fees between the national and international curriculum schoolings.

National-curriculum education is usually cheaper than that of international one. International curriculum schooling is not affordable to mass people. So, IGCSE schooling has always been a privilege for the wealthy minority. The demand for IGCSE schooling for the children of affluent people and nouveau riche led to the mushroom growth of these schools in the private sector. Furthermore, it is observed that students of international curriculum have eagerness in studying in overseas universities. This does not mean that the Bengali medium students are not interested in it. However, their chances shrink and they also feel discouraged from going abroad, due to their lack of command in English. Their poor communication skill in English is posing this barrier to them. In the IGCSE O’ level curriculum, since Bengali is taught as a second language, it is optional for the students. They can easily avoid this subject from their stream of studies. Thus Bengali has become a negligible subject among the students of this curriculum. Some students become so snobbish that they cannot stand people talking to them in Bengali on the ground that they are not ‘comfortable’ with Bengali. Some of them tend to speak Bengali with distortion. This trend, along with the rise in IGCSE curriculum English medium schools in the region attests to the prestige of our mother tongue. The future generation must learn to use this language appropriately to protect its dignity that was earned by blood shedding struggle in the language movement of 1952. IGCSE schooling is an alternative form of private education in Bangladesh. However, it cannot be denied that such schooling is generally unregulated by any national agencies or monitoring bodies in terms of their curriculum, employment, enrollment process or their tuition fee structure. Consequently, they enjoy a kind of autonomy unlike other education system in Bangladesh. Moreover, English medium education seems to be gradually fostering western culture that undermines Bangladeshi culture and tradition. Students of English medium schools incline towards western tradition, literature, geography, history, and lifestyle, without much caring about indigenous way of life.

The overexposure to western culture will have repercussion in the long run. Finally, the rise in English medium international education and the  learners’ obsession with the same have also created a cultural disparity, especially in city dwellers; complete fluency of the English language has become a new medium for defining social hierarchies at a very early age. English has become the tool to eliminate people from inner circles; at schools, the work place, to neighborhoods, etc. The extensive trust in the power of English is causing many to hold a negative image of their own language. This downside of this curriculum has to be compromised occasionally. Conclusion Pearson Edexcel is one of the world’s leading awarding bodies offering IGCSE Curriculum globally. Despite its some negative aspects, IGCSE is one of the most popular curricula in Bangladesh. For the past 43 years, this examination board has catered for its prestigious qualifications to students in Bangladesh. It is an academically rigorous, globally recognised, specialised, English language curriculum for O level and A level exams which provide progression to higher studies at home and abroad. It is tried, tested and trusted by students and teachers universally.


Clarion Call

Md. Bazlul Karim


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