Are you an English medium student? Obviously school for you is only a joyride, void of any actual learning with books that are half the size of National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB). But wait, are you from the Bangla medium? You only half-understand the jokes of friends and yet pretend to laugh all the way. These are just some of the stereotypical insults that stem from the misconceptions, the superiority, and inferiority and of course the superficiality regarding these two mediums of education in Bangladesh. But even if one is not better than the other, the two systems are very different, a reality that becomes evident at the time of admission tests for public universities and the ever persistent debate of whether they are biased towards those prevailing from the national curriculum.
The major public universities that the students contest to get into include Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka University (DU), Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Jahangirnagar University (JU), Khulna University (KU) etc. and the medical colleges include Dhaka Medical, Sir Salimullah Medical and others. These few, being the major universities/medical colleges, consist of very limited number of seats. For instance, a total of over 300,000 students applied for the admission test for University of Dhaka for the term starting in 2015, whereas the total number of seats available was only 6,582; a total of around 75 thousand students took the admission tests for the medical schools in the last session and the number of seats available was 34,000 including dental and government medical colleges. Amongst the ones admitted, a major portion of students is from the national curriculum whereas the number of English Alim Result 2015 medium students could just be counted. Why is this difference?
Let me elaborate. The Bangla medium students take HSC and SSC exams as we all may know where national exam boards design the question papers. The English medium students partake in the 'O' and 'A' level examinations with the exams being designed and regulated by exam boards in the United Kingdom. Now, let us talk about how they are assessed. The Bangla medium students are more familiar with question patterns that are comparatively less analytical in nature and often reminiscent of questions they have previously come across with little or no change. Of course, there is also the added drama from certain "rumours" about question papers being leaked before the exams. Their questions also tend to focus more on the power of memorisation than critical reasoning skills. The English medium students, on the other hand, can hardly draw comfort from across a familiar question, even though similarities can be drawn. Their exams favour analytical skills over brute memorisation, with most of the exams having a multiple-choice format, which has also been introduced in the Bangla medium system. Most 'A'-level exams end in May/June and the public university exams are held within August to October which means the English medium students get approximately 3 months to study for the admission test in addition to adjusting themselves with the new system. The admission HSC Result 2015 test questions are more familiar to students from national curriculum.
Currently, a student of Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST), who applied to BUET and was not accepted, said, "The admission test should be fairer. The questions should be more generalised and should be updated time to time. If one intends to appear an admission exam right after 'A' levels without coaching he/she can only answer 20% of the paper." This is usually the case for engineering school admission test where the students go through 3 months of rigorous coaching to cross the hurdle.
The same question was asked to a student presently studying in Holy Family Medical School and College and her reply was, "Firstly, the system of evaluation based on just an hour's exam is completely irrational. One hour cannot judge whether a student has the calibre to study medicine or not. The process of selection should involve an overall review of our academics and other co-curricular activities, such as social service. We all know medicine is not just about learning, it is about serving as well. Secondly, the subset of students belonging to any other curriculum, school or high school is greatly undermined. In addition, there is the added caveat from the insufficient time and very few reference books and contexts are available in the market for the ones not appearing for the paper in Bangla, not to mention the coaching centres are flooded with teachers from the national boards and not many experienced teachers are there from other mediums to train them for the exams."
This seems to be the current situation of medical examinations. Now, in institutes like the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Dhaka University and universities like Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) where many English medium students are being accepted, the admission test questions include mathematics, language and analytical skills. It is more about how many questions you can solve within a given time and be accurate and not about how many topics you could memorise. It is more about efficiency."
The logical differences between the admission tests cause English medium students to seek admission in private universities and also move abroad. Hence the notion of 'Brain Drain' comes into the picture. So, the only thing we can do is to bring a change in the system itself. In that way different students from different curriculums can find a middle ground and thus discrimination can be avoided.
The writer is a student of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) from North South University, firstname.lastname@example.org
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