Bringing the 'international' into Nepali education: A Levels

The A Levels programme is more engaging for students and is flexible enough to allow localisation of the curriculum in many subjects.The demand for high quality higher secondary education in Nepal is currently being met by international programmes such as the CIE A Levels.

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As students begin to wrap up their post- SLC celebrations, they’ve begun to realise that past the Iron Gate await more challenges and bigger decisions. What career do I want to take up? Which stream do I want to follow? Which institution is most suited to my needs? And what programme would I like to study? Students and parents alike are increasingly concerned about choosing the best and most suitable educational options. Expectations over the post-SLC higher secondary degree have increased over the years while educational standards offered by institutions have also risen.

The University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) affiliated General Certificate in Education (GCE), Advanced Levels (A Levels) has gained prominence in Nepal over the past decade as an ideal pre-university diploma programme. The A Levels programme isn’t an entirely new concept to many. Offered initially by Budhanilkantha School from as early as 1986, many had heard of the A Levels degree, but few actually had access to it. The programme became more widely available only after private schools adopted it in the early 2000s in an effort to truly upgrade the quality of education they offered.

Many educationists have chosen it as the higher secondary level degree for their schools in order to provide a strong pre-university foundation for their students. Currently, there are 34 institutions offering A Levels programmes in various combinations throughout the country. They believe that the A Levels programme is one of the most rigorous available in Nepal.

“While the +2 progamme is comprehensive in terms of content,” informs Narottam Aryal, Principal at King’s College, “we prefer the A Levels curriculum and its method of teaching 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 A Levels in order to prepare students to be intellectually driven independent learners.

According to Nabin Man Shrestha, Chairman at AJWIAS, “The programme inculcates critical thinking and reasoning abilities in students while offering a more creative outlook to education.” Narayan Prasad Sharma, Principal of Budhanilkantha School adds, “Courses are updated regularly to make it relevant to the times and that is an added strength of the programme.”

Lok Raj Giri, Chairperson of Cambridge Educators Association Nepal (CEAN), says CIE is soon to introduce a mandatory subject called ‘Nepal Studies’ for all students from Nepal. “This course will give students a comprehensive knowledge about their country while they pursue what is already a globally enriching programme.” Students in most institutions in Nepal are required to take three full credit subjects along with a half credit language course or General Paper. There is also the opportunity for students to study additional subjects if they want to. Educators, however, note that the students still opt to take subjects in traditional combinations because many still seek to join medical and engineering programmes in Nepal and South Asia that have strict pre-enrolment requirements. Offering each individual student the most diverse subject combination can also be a challenge when taking the majority’s choices into consideration.

The desire for many students to go abroad for further studies provides a strong incentive for them to choose A Levels. Not only is it a strong foundation for further education, it also provides an internationally recognised, highly prestigious certificate. “Students who perform well in their A Levels have a better chance of gaining admission with full scholarship in top universities the world over,” shared Sudhir Jha, Founder Director of Chelsea International Academy, who has seen off many of his students to premier institutions for further studies. The flipside of trying to obtain an international degree is that it is quite expensive, and therefore, marginalises a large section of society, particularly for a country like Nepal. “Even for scholarship students, the exam fees make A Levels an expensive and difficult choice,” comments Giri.

The demand for high quality higher secondary education in Nepal is currently being met by international programmes such as the CIE A Levels. Institutions value the high standards being affiliated to a world renowned institution such as the University of Cambridge gives them and they take pride in offering international standard education within Nepal. The more recent import of the International Baccalaureate, another highly prestigious diploma programme, into Nepal shows that Nepalis are eager to give their new generation the very best in education.

source: Regmi, Ayushma  and Gimire, Binod(2012),"Bringing the ‘international' into Nepali education", The Kathmandu Post,10 April 2012

click the link below to view list of A Level Colleges in Nepal
A Level Colleges in Nepal

2012-04-10 | EducateNepal


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