Saidur Rahman, Country Manager, Edexcel.
A Recipe for Success
Working for Edexcel as Country Manager for the last five years, Saidur Rahman is the face of O and A levels in Bangladesh. In an exclusive interview with the Star, he talks about the strategies for doing well in exams
Tell us about Edexcel. How is Edexcel different from other Exam Boards?
Edexcel, a Pearson Company, UK's largest awarding body which used to be known as University of London Examinations and assessment Council have been offering its Academic Qualifications i.e. O and A Level qualifications in Bangladesh for last 37 years through the British Council. Apart from GCE O and A levels, it also offers BTEC qualifications--more than 500,000 students study BTECs each year, as a leading vocational route into employment, further or higher education. In 2008, more than 2.5 million learners registered for Edexcel vocational qualifications. These include BTECs, NVQs, Key Skills and Foundation Degrees. In the UK more than 4,500 centres offered Edexcel vocational qualifications.
Edexcel is a QCA(Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) regulated exam board in the UK. Our qualifications are QCA approved and therefore, the quality issues in relation to the delivery and assessment of our qualifications are monitored by QCA. For example, our examinations are held in the UK and abroad by adjusting the timing with GMT to minimise the security risk. In Bangladesh, our exam starts the morning session at 11.30am and the afternoon session at 4.30pm. There are three Government regulated Awarding bodies in England (Edexcel, AQA and OCR) and two other bodies in Wales and Scotland offering school level qualifications in the UK. These boards qualifications follow the standards and criteria set by the UK Qualifications and curriculum authority (QCA) and are recognised by employers and universities across the world.
What is the difference between Edexcel and Pearson? Where are the exams marked?
Edexcel is owned by Pearson, a London based Media and Education Company who also own The Financial Times newspaper, Penguin Books and Longman (and much more). All O, A and IGCSE exam papers for the whole world are marked in the UK by examiners appointed, trained and monitored by the boards. We sometimes hear about rumours that some people think that the exam papers are marked by local teachers. I take this opportunity to reassure everyone that all the scripts are sent back to UK after exams, they are scanned and soft copies are sent to individual examiners in the UK for marking Online. There is a mechanism in place to monitor these by senor examiners all the time. You will be pleased to know that each examiner can only mark one question only so that the assessment is accurate and they are not able to see the identity of a student.
Can examiners be biased towards certain countries?
No, examiners mark scripts from all over the world. They have no way of knowing where the script came from. As candidates are only identified by a number, the examiner also has no way of knowing the identity of the candidate.
What is the difference between IGCSE and GCSE? Why is Edexcel discontinuing O levels in Bangladesh?
The I indicates an international version of the UK GCSE, designed for students whose first language may not be English. The standards and marking are the same and it is internationally recognised as the equivalent of the UK GCSE. There are differences in the syllabus to allow more localisation of topics studied. There is usually far less assessed coursework.
Edexcel O levels were only being taken by a small number of students in a small number of countries. As a result it was becoming more difficult to keep the support materials up to date and to continue to offer the same range of subjects. The last Edexcel O levels will be held in January 2011, from then onwards all Edexcel candidates across the world will sit for IGCSE. This has allowed Edexcel to focus more resources into developing the IGCSE, expanding the subject range and producing support materials.
What is the difference between Edexcel's IGCSE 2009 and Edexcel's O Level?
IGCSE 2009 is the combination of the best features from the Edexcel O Level and existing IGCSE. Very little of the curriculum content has been changed; the main changes have been with the references, assessment structures and resources.
The IGCSE is accepted by employers, governments and universities all over the world just like O Level.
Is IGCSE known worldwide? What about in Bangladesh? Are resources available for IGCSE?
There is currently an ongoing effort to give information for governments, ministers and employers about IGCSE. This will not be a problem.
Yes, bookshops across the country stock resources for O, A and IGCSE exams.
When is the last session for Edexcel O Level and First session for IGCSE exams?
Can a student sit for both O Level and IGCSE?
The last session of O Level is in January 2011 and IGCSE first session is May/June 2011.
Taking both O level and IGCSE will not cause any problem, as this is a qualification of similar standard and level.
What about A Levels? Will it also disappear?
Our A Levels will continue to be on offer. Edexcel have recently introduced its new revised A Level syllabus with lots of new support materials. Disappearance is unlikely, although the UK government and boards are constantly reviewing school qualifications to ensure that they remain relevant. I must take this opportunity to inform you that all science candidates must register through a school, which has approved facilities.
Are the A levels which are taken abroad exactly the same as those in the UK?
Yes, although there are some differences on the syllabus and the nature of the exam itself (especially with coursework components). A levels are recognised by the majority of universities, employers and government departments in Bangladesh. Many of them will also have their own entry tests as well.
Is there anything special with the Edexcel A levels?
As I said earlier, Edexcel A Levels are (most subjects) exactly the same taken by the students in the UK. UK A Levels are accepted worldwide including all leading universities, colleges, employers and Government bodies. Because of being a government. regulated awarding body in the UK, Edexcel always keeps its syllabi most up-to-date to match with global standard and greater recognition.
What are the other services that you offer to our schools and teachers?
In addition to our usual services such as providing the schools and students with the syllabi, teacher's materials, books, mark schemes, Chief Examiner's reports, face to face and Online Teacher Training, Edexcel have added some unique services for our users which are exceptional. Since Edexcel is a part of Pearson company, we have been able to invest a huge budget to introduce technology based services for the schools, teachers and students. We feel proud of being technologically ahead of any other awarding bodies in the world.
One of these services is ResultsPlus. In 2007 for the first time, Edexcel started offering this technology based service to all our schools and candidates who had taken Edexcel GCE and GCSE qualifications. Schools and students are now able to view their results online on results day through the revolutionary ResultsPlus Direct service. This is where teachers can see how students performed in each subject, providing question-by-question detail about students' examination results through powerful, logical reports and graphics; giving centres an unprecedented level of information about their performance.
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