A Levels-The most preferred int’l degree at home

For those who want to pursue an international degree with a global reputation, at a comparatively affordable fee, the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) affiliated General Certificate in Education (GCE), Advanced Levels (A Levels), is probably the best option.

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Binod Ghimire
As thousands of students wind up their post-School Leaving Certificate (SLC) celebrations, they have started to focus on the bigger challenges that lie ahead: they need to select the right course and right college at the higher- secondary level. The pre-university options available for them are the Plus-Two courses under the Higher Secondary Education Board, the American International Baccalaureate and the A Levels. By around this time, the students and their parents become increasingly concerned about choosing the courses that best suit their career motives.

For those who want to pursue an international degree with a global reputation, at a comparatively affordable fee, the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) affiliated General Certificate in Education (GCE), Advanced Levels (A Levels), is probably the best option. The A Levels has for some time now been able to meet the prevailing demand for high-quality higher-secondary education in Nepal. Institutions that affiliate with the University of Cambridge obviously value the university’s high standards, and they take pride in offering an international-standard education in Nepal.

 The A Levels is not an entirely new course in Nepal: Budhanilkantha School first introduced it here as early as the mid-80s, but the course was not accessible to many until other private schools adopted it, mainly in the early 2000’s. Over the past decade, however, it has gained prominence as the optimal pre-university diploma degree in the country. With the increase in the number of colleges that provide A-Level courses, the A Levels is no longer a foreign concept among students throughout Nepal.

Records at the British Council—which monitors and evaluates the institutions that offer A-Level education in the country—show that the number of schools that want to include the A Levels in their curriculum is ever-increasing. It shows that currently there are 41 institutions in Nepal which provide A-Level courses to students, out of which 37 institutions are centres attached to the British Council and four are independent centres. Earlier, most colleges were centred in the Capital, but now colleges in other cities, such as Pokhara, Biratnagar, Chitwan and Butwal, are offering the A Levels too.

The GCE A Levels is a two-year pre-university programme that’s accepted by over 500 universities across the globe. The first year of the course is called the AS Level, while the second year is referred to as the A2 Level. According to the British Council, over 175,000 students from 125 countries take the course annually. The A-Level educators say it is more preferred than other courses as it is more engaging for students and is flexible enough to allow localisation of the curriculum in many subjects.

Institutions have also opted to teach the A Levels in order to prepare students to be intellectually driven independent learners. “The A- Level courses are updated regularly to meet the requirements of the changing times,” says Navin Man Shrestha, president of the Cambridge Educators Association Nepal (CEAN). “This is the greatest strength of the course.” The courses emphasises creativity in its students and promotes their critical-thinking and reasoning abilities. Students say that the A Levels teaches them to become confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged learners.

In addition, the flexibility of the subject choices too has made the courses enticing for students. Students are free to take any subject from both the science and non-science streams, as per their preferences. Those who take Physics, for example, can even opt to combine it with Economics or Accountancy.

Students are required to take three full-credit subjects along with a half-credit language course or General Paper. That’s the minimum requirement, but they are also offered the opportunity to study additional subjects if they want to. Educators, however, note that the most students still opt to take subjects in traditional combinations because many seek to join medical and engineering programmes in Nepal and South Asia, which have strict pre-enrollment requirements.

For the institutions, offering each individual student the most diverse subject combination possible can be a challenge when taking the majority’s choices into consideration.  The desire of many students to go abroad for further studies also provides a strong incentive for them to choose the A Levels. Not only does it make for a strong foundation for further education, it also provides an internationally recognised, highly prestigious certificate. According to the British Council, many students taking the A Levels have been admitted to some of the world’s best institutions for higher education, such as Cambridge University, Harvard, MIT and the London School of Economics, to name just a few. Furthermore, thousands of students opt for the Cambridge International AS- and A-Level degrees every year in the hopes of gaining admission at other leading universities in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, among others.

source:Ghimire,Binod (2014),"A Levels-The most preferred int’l degree at home", the kathmandu post,30 april 2014

2014-04-29 | EducateNepal

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