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EDEXCEL holds first ever conference; answers questions; outlines future plans

Edexcel International held a press conference in the city's Sheraton Hotel on Monday to outline their future plans for Bangladesh and discuss plans to implement and integrate UK vocational education into the Bangladesh education structure.

Primarily, Edexcel, plans to integrate vocational services side by side with O' Levels in the English Medium schools with a longer-term plan underway to implement similar studies in the public education sector.

In this regard, Edexcel will shortly be opening its first office in Bangladesh, which will provide detailed pre and post examination services to students that include provision of textbooks and the like. Also, the Edexcel office will train local personnel on differentiated methods of vocational education.

Home Minister, Osman Farruk presided as chief guest and welcomed the initiative. The meeting was also attended by Rick Firth, Edexcel Director of Global Operations and Richard Sunderland, Deputy Director for Examinations in the British Council Bangladesh and Nick Sansome, Regional Director for South Asia, Edexcel.

The conference was attended by numerous heads of educational institutions across Bangladesh and covered a range of topics including local and global educational developments.

Rising Stars had the opportunity to conduct a one on one interview session with Rick Firth and Nick Sansome. Both underlined their long term commitment to Bangladesh and also mentioned that Bangladesh has been the chief source of business all over the world for Edexcel and that that students from Bangladesh achieved some of the best grades worldwide.

Robin Firth also mentioned that Edexcel has planned to introduce dynamic checking methods, that involves a full digitization of the script checking process. Up to 30% of all scripts in this session have been evaluated in this manner and results have proved very positive.

Part of the conference also involved the introduction of a new country specific subject named Bangladesh Studies. Integrated as an O' Level subject from May 2005, the results of the initial candidates who sat for the Bangladesh Studies exam had proved to be excellent.

Edexcel, from its new office bases also plans to offer more training services for teachers and says that they will strive to offer as much of their services as they possibly can in order to improve the teaching standard here. Although numerous institutions have experienced subject specific teachers, many do not. Firth hopes that the Edexcel training service shall help these teachers achieve their specific goals.

Rising Stars also inquired about the alarming rise in the level of fees for O'& A' Level registrations. Sansome replied saying that Edexcel, raised fees by all of one pound in the last five years in order to maintain parity with countries like Bangladesh.

The rise in fees he explain comes about from the addition of the British Council administrative costs which are huge because of the logistics involved in housing the increasing number of candidates in different centers throughout the country.

All in all, Firth and Sansome both expressed their satisfaction about Bangladesh's performance in relation to other centers around the world and said that they hoped for even better performance in the future.

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

Campus news

Club fair @ IUB

IUBians can no longer complain about a lack of club activity in their university. Last Wednesday, the nine ECA clubs of the Independent University, Bangladesh came together in the first ever club fair, organised by AIESEC in IUB.

The programme started off at 10 am at the campus in Road 10, Baridhara, popularly known as C1. It was inaugurated by Towheed Samad, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Bazlul Mobin Choudhury was also present at the ceremony, as were Dr. Tanveer Ahmed Khan (the Registrar), and various members of the faculty of IUB.

The nine clubs participating in the programme all had stalls that showcased their activities. The Art Club put up a medley of colourful stage shows, featuring dance, drama and music. The Bangla Club staged poetry recitations. Greensphere, which is an environment watch group, had an attractive stall with posters and pictures, and they distributed Greensphere badges to those who attended the fair. Putting up their leaflets, brochures and multimedia presentations, were the Business Students Society (BSS), the Media & Development Communication Forum, and the IUB Literary Society, the latter two of which are expected to bring out publications very soon. AIESEC in IUB, the organisers, also had their own stall, where they began their recruitment for the current semester.

The Department of Student Activities (DoSA), an active voice in promoting new talent, provided some real heavy metal, pardon the pun, as they displayed awards from their various talent hunts.

The ultimate show-stealer, however, was provided by the Debate Club, which staged a Students vs. Faculty Members mock debate.

Though the topic was, in the humble opinion of this reviewer, in somewhat poor taste, both parties put up a sportive performance and managed to gather a sizeable crowd.

Rubayat Khan, the President of AIESEC in IUB, spoke on behalf of the organisers. "This event was organized with a view to unite the students of IUB, and to promote their extra-curricular activities." The turnout at the fair certainly pointed to the success of the endeavour, and one hopes to see more such programmes in the future.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Living and Loving Dhaka

The traffic jams, the pollution, the overcrowding, it does get to us. You wake up in the morning with the "ferrywallah" screaming " Jharoo" or "tarkari". You open the newspaper to find tons of murders or bombings. You get out into the scorching heat to be attacked by pollution and the crowds of people pushing their way through…and you can't help but wish that you were anywhere else in the world but here. Sometimes you feel like you can't take it anymore. But you have to admit that this city does grow on you. Yes folks, as you must have guessed by now, I am talking about Dhaka. Whether you are from Sylhet, from Khulna or from wherever, since you are living in Dhaka, you are a Dhakaite. Once you've lived in Dhaka, it's hard to get over it.

The sense of belonging, the feeling of oneness, you will get it nowhere else but Dhaka. The only place that you can truly and wholeheartedly claim as your own.

It consists of our small circle of friends, our relatives, our neighbourhood, our school and the list can go on and on. You may live in one part of Dhaka and may never have even set foot on the other side of the city. For you Uttara may be " my Uttara" or Dhanmondi "my Dhanmondi" and road number 2 may be "the road leading to my school". Dhaka can thus be personalised by each and every person and that's what makes us connect to it so well. You don't really have to bother about the violence going around the outside world as long as your small safe circle remains intact.

Enough of serious stuff. Now to me Dhaka is the place of independence, where I can easily express myself in my mother tongue, where I can hang out with my friends, try out the different restaurants and shopping malls. If you have the money, Dhaka is no less then abroad. Now you may be thinking " Hey we can do all that anywhere else" I've got a few questions for you. Can you speak Bengali with everyone anywhere else? Can you celebrate any of your cultural functions or religious function with so much ease and unity anywhere else? Can you expect any of your fellow Bengalis to help you out in time of need?

We Bengalis love interfering in each other's lives which also means we are willing to lend a helping hand. Okay I know these facilities may exist in other cities as well but I'm talking about Dhaka as our hometown.

Now each one of you may have varying reasons for liking Dhaka or even disliking it. And hey everyone's open to his/her own views. Some of you boys may love the fact that you can get cheap cigarettes without having to buy the whole packet and some of you may love the fact that you get pirated cheap books and CDs. Guess what, here's your chance to express yourself. It doesn't matter whether or not you're a patriot or you want to improve your home Dhaka City. Let us know what Dhaka means to you.

Despite its flaws, wherever you go, there will always exist a certain longing for Dhaka. Not only for the memories and the people but because it is your home. You can never deny your background.

By Afrina Choudhury
Send us your own piece on 'Loving Dhaka' at risingstars@thedailystar.net The article should not exceed 500 words

on the brink of extinction

The national animal of Bangladesh, the tiger, is classified as an endangered species, a fact that very few of us know and fewer care about. The tiger, like many other species, is in danger of extinction because of constant human interference and destruction of its natural habitat, in addition to inordinate hunting. Though it is illegal to hunt tigers, they are still poached in large numbers for their body parts, which are sold on the black market, particularly their bones that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The tiger population, which was approximately 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, has been narrowed down to less than 5000 in recent times. Tigers are now extinct in Java, Bali, around the Caspian sea, almost in China and North Korea. The Javan tiger became extinct in the 1970's, the Caspian tiger in the 1950s and the Bali tiger in the 1930s.

There are many misconceptions about tigers, a large number of people believe that tigers perpetually kill and consume humans. This, in fact, is a myth. Tigers, like most animals, very rarely kill human beings, only on occasion they are forced to when they are provoked, feel threatened or when their territory is invaded.

Human errors and transgressions are just not limited to poaching. Destruction of the tiger's environment also plays a vital role in its rapid decline. Deforestation, urbanisation, water pollution, etc pose huge threats to tigers and other animals living in the wild. In order to maintain the tiger population, it is necessary for humans to ensure the existence of the tigers imperative prey.

With the tiger on the brink of extinction, several organisations are attempting to promote the conservation of tigers, such as convention on international trade in endangered species (CITIES). Many conservationists are seeking co-operation from local villagers to prevent the killing of tigers. Zoos also play a significant role in raising awareness about the status of the tigers as endangered species. It is important for society in general to understand and oppose the abuse of tigers to prevent extinction. But if apathy, mismanagement and exploitation does lead to the extinction of tigers, it will be a great loss for not only nature, but also humankind.

By Bushra Sameeha Anwar


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