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Introducing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme in Bangladesh.

By Afreen Khan and Nusrat

The IB programme is an internationally acknowledged course managed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), a non-profit educational organisation, which introduced this programme in the 1960s. At present, there are 1,464 schools that are authorised to offer IB programmes in 115 countries. The IB programme is set in a curriculum that aims to build a well-rounded student who have developed their individual talents and have learnt to relate the experience of the classroom to the realities of the world outside. Beyond intellectual rigour and high academic standards, strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship, to the end that IB students may become critical and compassionate thinkers, lifelong learners and informed participants in local and world affairs, conscious of the shared humanity that binds all people together while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life.

The IB programme is divided into 3 parts based on students' ages. The curriculum divisions, set for students aged 3 years to 18 years, are as follows:

· The Primary Years Programme (PYP)Ê
· The Middle Years Programme (MYP)
· The Diploma Programme

The Primary Years Programme:
The Primary Years Programme (PYP), for students aged 3 to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child, in the classroom but also in the world outside, through other environments where children learn. It offers a framework that meets children's several needs: academic, social, physical, emotional and cultural.

The PYP serves as an excellent introduction to the Middle Years Programme, but it is not a prerequisite for this or for the Diploma Programme.
After consultation with the International Baccalaureate Organisation, and provided certain conditions are met, schools enjoy much flexibility in terms of language of instruction and languages taught. Six organising themes help teachers and children explore knowledge in the broadest sense of the word. The development of explicit attitudes and the expectation of socially responsible behaviour are also essential elements of the programme.

The Middle Years Programme:
The IBO's Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills for students aged 11-16 years. The five-year programme offers an educational approach that embraces yet transcends traditional school subjects. It follows naturally the Primary Years Programme and serves as excellent preparation for the Diploma Programme. Schools may subscribe to any or all of the programmes; however, none is a prerequisite foranother.

The framework is flexible enough to allow a school to include other subjects not determined by the IBO but which might be required by local authorities. After consultation with the IBO, and provided certain conditions are met, schools enjoy much flexibility in terms of language of instruction and languages taught. The MYP, like the other two programmes of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, is based on the premise that education can foster understanding among young people around the world. Intercultural awareness is central to the programme, to enable future generations to live more peacefully and productively than we do

The Diploma Programme:
The International Baccalaureate Organisation's Diploma Programme was created in 1968. It is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. It is designed for highly motivated secondary school students aged 16 to 19.

The programme has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world's leading universities. The Diploma Programme's grading system is criterion-referenced, which means that each student's performance is measured against well-defined levels of achievement. These are consistent from one examination session to the next and are applied equally to all schools. It generally allows students to fulfill the requirements of their national or state education systems. The Diploma Programme incorporates the best elements of national systems, without being based on any one.

The programme was born of efforts to establish a common curriculum and university entry credential for students moving from one country to another. International educators were motivated by practical considerations but also by an idealistic vision. They believed that students should share an academic experience that would emphasize critical thinking, intercultural understanding and exposure to a variety of points of view. Internationally mobile students are able to transfer from one IB school to another. Students who remain closer to home benefit from a highly respected international curriculum. The IBO has shown, over the course of 30 years, that students are well prepared for university work. They are accepted by universities in more than 110 countries.

Bangladesh has recently become a part of the IBO. International School of Dhaka (ISD) is the first school in Bangladesh to introduce this programme to the students of the country. This will be of great advantage to students looking forward to pursuing higher studies abroad in almost any country, as this programme is more widely accepted than the national HSC and the GCE A' Level examinations.

Reading Habit"

by, Ayesha Mahmud

A wise man once said "Everywhere have I sought rest and found it not, except sitting apart in a nook with a little book." I remember reading my first book when I was six. It was one of those "Read-it-Yourself" books by Ladybird, and I doubt whether the entire book had more than fifty words. But I can still remember the joy I felt while flipping through its pages. Back then, the only place to find good books was New Market. The stores there always had a very good stock of books for children and adults. I used to love sitting on the dusty floor and going through large piles of Enid Blyton books.

Growing up in Dhaka city was never easy. There were no parks or playgrounds where my friends and I could play safely. But reading books opened my eyes to a whole new world. It allowed me to escape reality and to explore unknown lands. I was no longer a girl trapped in a congested city. I could go wherever my imagination would take me. During my junior school years, reading books helped me immensely with my schoolwork. As soon as I began to read at home, my vocabulary increased and my writing improved, although I must admit that I ignored my homework on many days, in order to finish reading a particularly exciting book.

But the times have changed and reading is no longer as popular as it used to be. In today's fast-paced world, most of us hardly find any time to read books. Whenever we do find a little time, we usually spend it in front of the television or the computer. As much as I hate to admit it, I know there are times when I would prefer to watch a movie than to read a book. Children, nowadays, are more interested in video games and movies than in books. However, in recent years, many good book stores have opened in Dhaka, such as Etcetera and Bookworm. These shops are decorated nicely and their shelves are stocked with books covering a wide range of topics. The atmosphere inside is warm and inviting, and the books are almost begging to be picked up and read. Even our beloved Gyankosh and Boi Bichitra has a new look these days. The recent "Harry Potter" craze has also helped popularize reading amongst children (and many adults!). But the question remains-Is reading losing out in popularity? It is obvious that many kids are picking up the latest Harry Potter book just because it is "fashionable" to do so, or because they do not want to feel left out when their friends talk about Harry's latest adventures. When the two "Lord of the Rings" movies based on J.R.R. Tolkein's famous novel were released, people rushed to the bookstores to grab a copy of the famous book. The ironic thing was that although the novel has been around for ages, before the movies were released, people were simply not interested. It is really sad that we cannot use our own imagination, and we have to rely on the filmmaker to create the images for us.

Having said all that, I know that there are many people who still enjoy reading and who spend some of their happiest moments curled in bed with a book. Contrary to popular belief, reading is not an extinct habit amongst teenagers. Although browsing the Internet and playing video games may be more popular these days, I know many people who still love to spend an afternoon reading a good book. Technology may be progressing at a fast pace, but the habit of reading books will be around for years to come.

Book Review

Cujo by Stephen King

Stephen King is at his best when he can scare you with the simplest of issues. He is no different in his novel Cujo published in 1982. This book, shorter than his other novels such as It and The Shining, deals with the horrors that ensue when a lovable pet dog becomes rabid. Sure enough, upon completion of the book, you will think twice before getting a large pet mutt!

The story takes place in Castle Rock, where we are introduced to two families- the Torrances and the Cambers. Vic Torrance, working for an ad agency, is struggling hard to keep a certain client happy while we find his wife Donna coming out of a fling with the local furnisher, Steve Kemp, who is angry at being jilted. Then there is Tad Torrance, a five-year-old who believes that his closet is the lair of the local boogeyman, and can only sleep when his father reads out the Monster Words, to him at night. Vic has a Jaguar that he takes to Joe Camber, the local garage owner. A disgruntled drunk, he is admired by his son Brett for the "power" that he shows and is spited yet loved by his very unhappy wife, Charity. Cujo, a two hundred pound Saint Bernard is also a family member. Though imposing to look at, Cujo appears to be harmless as he slobbers up Tad Torrance at first glance.

The trouble starts when Cujo chases a rabbit down a hole and is scratched on his muzzle by a rabid bat. As the wound starts to heal, the symptoms of rabies appear. On the other hand, Vic learns of Donna's affair, thanks to an anonymous letter from the ditched lover. As angry as Vic is, he has more pressing matters to look to and leaves for a two-week visit for New York. Donna is left in a limbo with her son, who doesn't want his father to go off for so long.

Charity Cambers is in a dilemma. Winning 5000 dollars in a lottery, she makes a deal with her husband. She wants to take her son to see her sister, married to a lawyer and living, according to Charity, like decent people. Joe lets them go, only because he plans to go off too, with his neighbour Gary.

Cujo first shows signs of animosity the morning Charity and Brett go off. Soon enough, the disease takes him over and he goes on a murderous rampage. His first victim is Gary, whose throat he makes a meal out of. Joe Camber discovers a very bloody and gored Gary. As the garage owner slips in his friend's blood and attempts to call 911, Cujo gets him too.

Meanwhile, Donna's Pinto's ticking valve drives her nuts and she decides to drive to Joe Camber's garage with Tad for company. As soon as she gets there, she comes face to face with Devil Incarnate himself, Cujo. The dog repeatedly attacks the small car but the duo is safe. As Donna attempts to restart the engine, it gives out on her and both of them are stuck in the garage front yard…for 2 days!!

Steve Kemp attempts another joke at the Torrances, trespassing on their property and leaving the house, as if hit by a tornado. Vic realizes that no one is picking up the phone at home. He panics, calls the local police, who discover the messed up house and call him up. He flies back home fearing kidnap and murder.

With the advent of the hottest summer in some years, Donna and Tad struggle to survive in the Pinto's sizzling interior. Their small supply of food and drink run out and Tad even goes into seizure, twice. Donna's attempts to make a break for the Camber's porch is greeted with an insane Saint Bernard, which manages to take bites at her leg and her stomach. With Tad on the brink of life after two days, Donna is willing to go for it with the taped baseball bat lying on the grass near Tad's side of the car.

George Bannermann, the local police, is sent to the Camber garage on a hunch that the missing Pinto might be there. As he steps out of his car, Cujo comes at him, making a mess out of his bowels in front of the horror-stricken Torrances. Donna seizes the opportunity and comes out of the car, meeting the dog for the last time. As she mauls the very sick dog with the baseball bat and hears the bones crunch, Vic drives in. As the dog gives out its last dying breath, Vic runs to Donna. He then runs to the car only to discover that little Tad has passed away too.

The novel ends in a morose note. Charity and Brett try their best to cope with life without Joe while the Torrances are yet to get over their loss. The story is spectacularly written, with numerous bad coincidences building up and uniting for the last, tragic one.

By ArmeeN





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