The examination system in Bangladesh and its impact: on curriculum, students, teachers and society
Examinations are designed to test knowledge and skills, but in some cases they acquire a power of their own that influences curriculum and attitudes to learning and teaching and that stabilised by widely held social expectations and practices. This article reports an investigation of the role of examinations in Bangladesh secondary education and their impact on curriculum students, teachers, parents and wider society. It focuses on the field of English language teaching. It first reports quantitative data that indicates a gap between teachers’ perceptions of curriculum expectations and their acknowledged practices. It then reports elements of a further qualitative study of the influence of the examination system on students, teachers and other stakeholders, and of the factors that in turn uphold the current examination system. Two narratives of students’ experiences are presented as a basis for discussion of the process and impact of the examination system and these are followed by further reports from teachers and teacher educators as well as analysis of curriculum documents and comments from media. The current role of the examination system is summarised in a model that notes both its impact and the influences that sustain it. The need for change is acknowledged but it is also recognised that it is not only the examination that needs to change.