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Investing in the basics of education

  • Published at 07:16 pm August 29th, 2016
  • Last updated at 07:18 pm August 29th, 2016
Investing in the basics of education

Most parents in Bangladesh are less willing to emphasize on and spend money for primary and secondary education even though the academic base of a person is formed during the early years. However, on the contrary, they are quite convinced about spending millions of takas on higher education over a short time span of just 4–5 years because they somehow foresee near-future benefits for their child. These supposed benefits include landing a decent job after graduating from a reputed university or getting their child married to a wealthy family. So, they send their children to prestigious universities home and abroad even if it costs them selling off their fixed assets.

In Bangladesh, most students enrolled at private institutions such as North South University, BRAC, IUB, AIUB, and a few other universities of similar standards, come from middle class and lower-middle class backgrounds. Their parents or elder siblings struggle tirelessly to bear the expenses of their education. Unfortunately, a majority of these students did not get proper and efficient academic upbringing during their early years. Many of them noticeably struggle to understand English properly when faculty members give lectures in the classrooms. Some may not even speak in Bangla with the proper pronunciations. They don’t understand simple words written on the lecture slides and often misinterpret the concepts. Their inadequacy in receiving higher education is continuously affecting the educational ecosystem in the university. They have poor communication skills, hence they cannot properly communicate with their lecturers and peers. Some of them even have to struggle to get internships or land a decent job after graduation. However, many of them improve their lifestyle by imitating their smarter peers in the campus, for example, they learn about and practice of hanging out in restaurants, using smartphones and social media, taking selfies, etc. Although these practices do not help much in academics, they at least help them get rid of the feeling of being left out.

This may sound biased, but I have found that students who from English medium backgrounds tend to perform better when pursuing higher studies, than students from Bangla medium and Madrasah backgrounds. They are comparatively more purposeful, career-focused, and well-groomed. They are also better at receiving financial aids from the university through their better grades and academic performances. It is almost impossible for an insolvent student to receive financial aid with mediocre grades. Moreover, English medium students are well aware of different opportunities and they know how to utilize them. They make sure to keep updates on different exchange programs, competitions, internships, workshops, and know how to apply for them, hence they are more likely to get into and enjoy the benefits of these opportunities.

As students in an international education system, they can easily relate themselves to global trends and lifestyles

I received my primary education in English medium schools. However, I could not continue after grade six because my family found it expensive to continue further. I remember that our teachers were well groomed and most of them were females. The ambience of the school was filled with motherly or sisterly affection and care. However, it is also true that many English medium institutes, unfortunately, no longer provide the same care and attention to their students as was the case a decade ago.

I sincerely believe that a few of the long-established schools, whether English or Bangla, such as Holy Cross, St. Joseph, SFX Green Herald, Sunbeams, Scholastica The Aga Khan School, etc, are excellent places for a child's basic education and upbringing. The books are well illustrated and up to date. The teachers’ attitudes are children-friendly. They don’t manipulate the schooling process by making their own private tuitions compulsory, since they are paid well enough in schools. The students get exposed to more ideas and enjoy better learning experiences.

Having said that, there are, without a doubt, certain obvious benefits to studying in a purely English medium environment. As students in an international education system, they can easily relate themselves to global trends and lifestyles. They are free to sit for their exams whenever they want and can retake an exam for a specific course to improve their grades. Due to these attributes they develop a positive, independent, and easygoing attitude towards education and feel less burdened. They can plan their career as they want because their options are widened since their eligibility requirement for higher studies are well checked across the world.

Lots of arguments might come along the way, but this is the reality. No matter how demonstrative we are towards our native language or religion, we can't deny the facts when quality is the first priority. Since education is a very essential need in our life, we should prioritize the quality of education before thinking about our cultural ethnocentrisms and financial capabilities. English medium education is expensive but it won’t sound expensive if we properly calculate the amount of money we have to spend for private tuitions. Sometimes, people even take up corrupt measures to get their children admitted in to more renowned institutions. Such practices are almost invisible in the English Medium spectrum.

Ehsan Amin is a student of North South University School of Business and Economics. He is also the Founder and Executive Producer of a visual branding agency named Crayon Studio. Email: [email protected]

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