Recognizing the significance of English proficiency in Bangladesh


In today’s highly competitive world, there is no denying the importance of English proficiency. Whether through English medium or an English version of education, a solid grasp of the English language is crucial.

English medium schools in Bangladesh typically follow the British curriculum, including Edexcel or Cambridge International Examinations. Many textbooks used in these schools are published abroad, placing Bangladeshi students on the same educational trajectory as their British counterparts. St. Francis Xavier’s Green Herald International School, a pioneer among English medium schools in Bangladesh, was founded in 1912.

Before Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, and during the era of Pakistani rule, the medium of instruction was English. However, after independence, the focus shifted to Bengali as the language of instruction. Unfortunately, over time, English proficiency in the country declined significantly.

The increasing demand for English proficiency from various sectors, especially parents, prompted the government to revisit the issue seriously. Parents found it challenging to create an English-speaking environment at home, and children struggled to learn English independently and fluently. Consequently, the demand for English version education from the school level continued to rise.

English version schools in Bangladesh follow the National Curriculum, with textbooks translated from Bengali into English. The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education initiated English version education in cadet colleges in the late 1990s. St. Francis Xavier’s Girls High School & College, St. Joseph High School & College, and Notre Dame College began offering English version education in 1999, followed by St. Gregory’s High School & College in 2016.

While some parents aspire to send their children to English medium schools, cost considerations often come into play. English version schools maintain high standards, but compared to English medium schools, they are more affordable. English version students take exams under the National Board for Exams, whereas English medium students take their exams through the British Council, with answer scripts sent to the United Kingdom for evaluation, making it a more expensive option.

It’s worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, some schools took tuition fees and annual charges into account, demonstrating flexibility and support for parents. Dhanmondi Tutorial, for instance, stood by parents during these challenging times.

Parents should not be disheartened if they cannot afford to send their children to English medium schools. While the national and international curricula may differ, the rules of grammar remain consistent in the English language. The effectiveness of education depends on both teachers and students – the clarity of instruction and the capacity of students to comprehend.

Spoken English proficiency is largely a matter of practice. A student may excel in grammar but still struggle with shyness, lack of practice, and confidence when speaking in English. English medium students typically converse in English at school from a young age, and sometimes even at home, giving them an advantage. However, anyone can enhance their spoken English through regular reading of storybooks, English newspapers, and magazines, as well as by listening to audio content.

It is crucial to emphasize that children should not blame their parents for providing English version education instead of English medium education. In universities such as the University of Dhaka, medical colleges, and engineering universities, the majority of students come from Bengali medium backgrounds.

The world is evolving rapidly, and relying solely on certificate-based education may not be sufficient in the long run. Skills will be the key to success, and English proficiency in the workplace is increasingly becoming a requirement. Whether through English medium or English version education, individuals should prioritize self-development.

Parents should not feel discouraged if they cannot afford English medium education for their children. Under the National Board, students take and complete all exams at once, whereas the British Curriculum divides exams into sessions, allowing students to appear for half in the May-June Session and the rest in the January Session (Edexcel/Cambridge).


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