Forums » October, 2022

Noorjahan's Blog

    • 24 posts
    October 29, 2022 10:17 AM PDT

    This blog was written by our member Noorjahan about O'level students experience in Bangladesh.  



    Study of maths and physics in our English medium schools: are they up to the mark?

    A reputable English-medium school in Dhaka charges an average tuition fee of roughly Tk 20,000 for O level, and an average admission fee of Tk 80,000. Accordingly, parents give an average of Tk 155,000 per year for a child, when simply the monthly tuition charge is added. That is a straightforward way of looking at the cost. Then there is the customary after-school coaching, a few more extraneous costs inside the school, and the exorbitant cost of O level and A level exams. Now, in lieu of this heavy burden of cost, are students getting proper education, especially in the fields of mathematics and physics, two significant subjects relevant to the improvement of the cognitive capacity of the students? Sadly enough, the students are in doubt, and they share several bottlenecks.

    English-medium schools, which are primarily private schools, have seen a noticeable increase in number in Bangladesh during the past few decades. The most well-known international credentials in Bangladesh are O level/IGCSE and A level diplomas from the UK. There are four curriculums in English Medium education system as Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), Pearson Edexcel, Oxford International AQA and International Baccalaureate (IB). Among these four, the first two are more famous and recognised in Bangladesh.

    In these internationally accepted curricula, study of core science subjects, i.e., physics, mathematics etc. are very much methodical and well organized. In the syllabus, the up-to-date information are included, and the study materials are also keeping abreast of the time by the publishers. Moreover, the assessments are more prone to the applied knowledge of the subject and in many instances, application-oriented, case-based, open-ended questions are set for the evaluation of the pupil. Considering these, this much can certainly be understood that the contents or subject matters that are being taught in the English medium curriculum are always up to date.

    Now, on the downside, the faculties or instructors that are engaged in the relevant educational institutions, lack in required quality, in many cases, as claimed by the students and concerned guardians. The situation is more disheartening in the suburban areas, as these regions are slightly underprivileged compared to the divisional cities.

    First, and the most common complain per se, some of the faculties are not well conversant at par in delivering lectures in an interesting way in English. Both physics and mathematics require extensive depth of understanding to have a complete grasp on the subject. Therefore, the instructors need to be not only good at the subject matter but also should possess a very good command of the language, splendid oratory capacity and adequate presentation skills overall.

    Second, teachers lack in sufficient knowledge to teach the updated contents, although this complain seemed to be justified in very few cases, not many. This happens when the teacher has completed a very conventional path of education in a pure Bengali medium environment and has never been groomed altogether.

    Lastly, in several cases, the institution has not got required amenities, apparatus in the in-house laboratories etc. This creates a bottleneck and restricts the students from the hands-on experience of different scientific methods, calculations etc. As the institutions are charging the guardians heavily for the quality education of their children, they reserve all rights to ask for the proper arrangements in the laboratories, and the institutions should obey and address the urge.

    In my personal experience from tutoring a good number of English medium students in Bangladesh, I have seen and perceived their struggles and sufferings from several issues. First, people can understand anything the best in their native language. Now the institutions are very strict about the language and no Bengali is tolerated in classes. This constricts the horizon of the understanding and squeezes the thirst of knowledge among students, since many of them do not use English in their daily lives, despite their parents trying hard to give them an English-all environment. Second, I have faced students with difficulties in understanding the examples used in various problems, only because the examples given are not relevant at all in our country context. For example, a mathematics problem, talking about a certain frequency of ringing of a pagoda-bell, is difficult for a student to understand, since that type of large bell is very rare in our country and not regularly seen. Similarly, a ‘grandfather clock’ can hardly be understood by a student in Bangladesh, only because s/he is not used to watching this at home. These types of unfamiliar examples make the lives of the students difficult, which has nothing to do with their mathematical understanding at all. Third, students in Bangladesh tend to have less practical exposure and the institutions also lack in facilities, such as, industry attachment, field visits etc. For this, their knowledge remains mostly bookish that hinders them from developing a birds’-eye-view of a problem statement and ultimately shrinks their scope of applying the understanding of physics and mathematics in their future endeavours, i.e., job or business or even day-to-day life.

    Overall, the students of the English medium students of our country are facing inconvenience due to the lack of required facilities in their respective laboratories and incompetence of the faculties in delivery of the lectures and knowledge of the subject. However, cautious, and frequent monitoring as well as stringent evaluation criteria while giving approvals to new schools can improve the situation. Besides, willingness from the management bodies of the educational institutions is also necessary. This should also be noted that the cognitive capacity of all the students is never at the same level and hence segregating weaker pool to nurture them with care will certainly make the situation better-off. Nonetheless, students from all grades should also have relevant exposure to practical cases where they can utilize their knowledge from textbooks, which will not only make the subject matter interesting but also boost their thirst for knowledge.