Remember the time when some obnoxious individual around you kept going on about how your medium of education is inferior to the one their child studies in? This debate about the national curriculum vs the British curriculum has been going on for ages. Mediums are merely auxiliary influences. Even if one is not superior to the other, there is no arguing that the two systems are vastly different.
There is a widespread assumption that O and A-level students have an easier time applying abroad than they do coping with the admission tests of the top universities in the country, although it is the opposite for SSC/HSC students. Tasnim Islam, a Bangla medium student who is now a third-year student of Anthropology at Dhaka University, is ready to accept the advantages of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) curriculum for the admission exam.
"I think the syllabus of NCTB is quite helpful for admission. So, if someone finishes the syllabus properly, he or she doesn't have to face much of a problem in admission. As I was an aspirant for the D unit, the Bangla books of my school and college were very useful," he shares.
He also mentions the limitations of this curriculum. "However, there are many problems with this syllabus. Following the English syllabus of the NCTB curriculum doesn't increase the language skills of many. Due to this, there is also a problem while applying abroad. Another problem is there is no practice of problem-solving."
Nafis Ul Islam, an English medium student who is now a freshman in Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, shares from his experience that being an English medium student is helpful, just because of the fact that A level is more recognised than NCTB. "The recognition alone makes it such a breeze to apply to any universities abroad, especially the UK ones which accept your results directly without requiring equivalent ones," he remarks.
This is not to suggest that English medium learners do not get into top universities of Bangladesh, or that national curriculum students do not get into leading universities around the world. Sanja Kader, an English medium student who is now a final year student of Management Studies at Bangladesh University of Professionals, sheds more light on the matter. According to her, while shifting mediums for admission tests in Bangladesh, the syllabus material varies a lot and the question pattern is a lot different. "English medium students must master the HSC syllabus in a short period of time in order to sit for the admissions test here. And there aren't many decent coaching centres that are catered towards students following Cambridge or Edexcel syllabus, and applying for public universities in Bangladesh."
On the other hand, Bangla medium students must take IELTS and become accustomed to a slightly different syllabus in order to prepare for SAT. An example of pursuing studies abroad from the national curriculum is Ramisa Anan who is now studying at UmeåVux College in Sweden. According to her, neither English nor Bangla medium makes a difference. However, the NCTB curriculum lacks the emphasis on vocabulary as well as other aspects like literature or improving language skills.
Ramisa, however, brings an important point mentioning the repetitive nature of the syllabus material of this curriculum. "Our curriculum for 12th also revolves around the same orbit as class 10 materials. How are students supposed to learn more if they read the same things over and over again?"
The writer is a student at the Department of International Relations in Bangladesh University of Professionals.