In the recent cloud of confusion and debate on the issued directive by University Grant Commission (UGC) that General Education Diploma (GED) will no longer be approved by private universities, I, being an instructor for GED, feel compelled to shed light on what exactly GED is.
The growing popularity of GED over the last few years is evident, yet people do not know what it is. It is a life-saving bridge for students who are not able to complete their higher-secondary degree for various reasons, and find no other means to pursue higher education. GED enables them with an opportunity to continue their education and become a contributing member of the working population.
Many argue that the diploma provided by GED is substandard compared to other secondary high school degrees available in Bangladesh. The basis of the argument is that higher secondary degrees in Bangladesh are a two-year program, whereas the GED is a four-month diploma, and it covers only four subjects.
Let’s take a closer look at it.
The updated GED test commenced on May 1, 2017, which made significant changes to content, and is aligned to university and career readiness standards as recommended by the US Department of Education. The new test measures knowledge and skills in the areas of language, mathematics, social studies, and science.
GED has four individual subject tests, but under the umbrella of each subject, there is content covering much more. The updated GED 2017 is more analytical and time-bound than the previous version, which essentially teaches students to apply reasoning skills efficiently and allows them to prove that they have the ability to pursue higher education like any other student.
If GED is scrapped, it would certainly scrap the future of thousands of students
The GED English test requires an essay, which is of the same standard as that of the SAT in the US. Mathematics in GED comprises of arithmetic, algebra, probability, and trigonometry. Social studies content has the history of the US, as it is an American test, but it also covers economics, geography, and political science. Finally, the science test covers physics, chemistry, and biology.
In short, just like any high school degree, it contains all subjects and not just four as the misconception goes. GED prepares students holistically on all branches of study, which is required for the foundation years at university. GED can be completed faster than the traditional degrees, because it builds on the educational level attained through O-Level or SSC.
The American Council on Education (ACE) is the major coordinating body for higher education institutions in the US, representing nearly 1,800 college and university presidents and related associations, and one of the parent organizations of the GED testing service.
The GED test is accepted by more than 98% of the nearly 5,000 post-secondary institutions in the US. Also, more than 97% of US employers accept the credential as being equivalent to high school, and allow students to apply for jobs. GED is also accepted in countries like Canada, South Africa, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, and Myanmar.
All Bangladeshi private universities follow the American curriculum of study, and GED is an American test, so why should it not be approved by universities in Bangladesh? It is widely accepted in the US, and is designed in such a manner that it fulfills the requirement of American universities.
The scoring system of the GED requires 72.5% on each subject to pass. Universities like Independent University, Bangladesh require 77.5% on each subject to be eligible for admission, which is a high enough score that attests that students are qualified to pursue higher education.
Being an educator for close to a decade, I truly believe in the saying, “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
It is not everyone’s cup of tea to pursue education in the conventional manner, but that does not necessarily prove they do not have it in them to succeed by other means.
If GED is scrapped, it would certainly scrap the future of thousands of students. The backbone of any nation is its educated youth, and without an option such as GED, these youth will be lost in the abyss.
Nasia Chowdhury is an educator and a GED instructor.