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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pursuing A-Level here

Biswaraj Samyangkham
Apart from Higher Secondary Education, students who have cleared their School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination have another avenue open for them. They can opt for A-Level. You might ask what is A-Level.

What is A-Level?
A-Level is a Cambridge University (UK) course of General Certificate of Education (GCE) started in Britain nearly 60 years ago. The GCE is an internationally recognised secondary school level scholastic achievement, the examinations for which are conducted by the Cambridge University Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES) through its representatives in many countries across the globe.Cambridge conducts A-Level examinations in more than 165 countries.

In Nepal's context, A-Level is equivalent to plus-2. Hence, Class XI is called AS, and Class XII is called A2. Examinations are held four times a year -in May, June, October and November.
The GCE, being open to both regular school-going and private candidates, is more flexible than the national school examination boards of most countries in its eligibility criteria and the candidate's choice of subjects. It also offers the liberty of taking one or more subjects at a time according to the test taker's requirement and convenience.

In Nepal
In Nepal, A-Level courses started in 1986 with the opening of the Budhanilkantha School as the first A Level school here. Today there are 34 A-Level colleges and institutions registered under the Higher and Technical Education Department, Ministry of Education and affiliated to the British Council.
In Nepal, the British Council acts as its official representative and centre for examinations, except for four schools -The British School, Budhanilkantha School, Kathmandu International Study Centre and Rato Bangala School, that have direct contact with GCE.

Why A-Level?
There are so many reasons why one should opt for A-Level says those involved with this system of education.
Subash Shrestha, Programme Director of Global College International, a newly opened A-Level college, said, “A-Level is a recognised worldwide and has a flexible course where students get choice of different subjects. Basically, the examination pattern is very flexible -students can choose to sit for their exams at the completion of one level, say end of AS, or can sit for both AS and A2 examinations at the end of the completion of A2.“
He also pointed out one unique feature of this system of education.

“Students can sit for the examinations any number of times till they score the marks that they want.“
Rajesh Adhikari, Program Coordinator of Chelsea International Acadamy, stressed that students should join A-Level because it has a good curriculum and an international examination standard.Jon Shrestha and Sandesh Ghimire, students of Chelsea, opined, “We've joined A-Level because of the course's popularity, the liberty it gives, and opportunities it opens for us.“They claimed that A-Level has practical-based teaching method.

“Another reason we are doing ALevel is that after completing it we can join Bachelor level in any country in any stream,“ they said.It looks like the main reason why more and more students are getting attracted to the A-Level is the international recognition and credibility of the course on one hand, and a flexible examination pattern and the liberty of choosing subjects on the other.

Requirements and costs “Students who have passed SLC and O-Level in any division are eligible to join the A-Level,“ said Adhikari, “but we only give admission to students securing over 60 per cent in SLC or O-Level.“

The cost varies from college to college, but on an average the cost of completing A-Level is approximately Rs 3 lakhs in Nepal.Subjects on offer Generally students in Nepal choose between Science (Maths, Physics, Chemistry), Social Sciences (Sociology, Business Studies, Economics) and Arts subjects, but Cambridge has dozens of subjects under more than half-a-dozen streams in the world.

In Nepal, each school and college varies the number and type of subjects they offer and duration of the AS and A2 level courses. Students of A Levels must take four subjects including Compulsory English.
Where to study In Nepal, 34 English schools and colleges prepare students for AS and A2 levels in Nepal including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Kavre and Biratanagar. Thirty schools and colleges are attached centres of University of Cambridge and registered under its parent centre British Council ­ NP004. According to British Council, students can prepare for A-Level in these registered institutions.

source: The Himalayan Times (2011), 4 May 2011

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