On the last day of the SLC examinations, as the students make their way out of the examination centers, they are handed heaps of brochures from different educational institutions. While the students step out with a huge sign of relief for completing the exams, for which they have put in months of hard work, their respite is, however, short-lived as these brochures remind them of their further endeavors into higher education.
There are many educational institutions which offer bridge courses to students who just finished their SLC exams. While they have three months of vacation before they start their studies again, these bridge courses attract students, claiming that they help them to prepare for the entrance examinations to various reputed colleges and help them to bridge the curriculum differences between SLC and higher education.
“I joined the bridge course as I thought it might help me with my studies for the 10+2 level,” says Sikha Shah, 18, who has now completed her higher secondary education. Shah adds that she was motivated to join the bridge courses as she wanted to further delve into advanced science before she starts her college. “Studying science was like a hobby for me back then and I was really curious to know the curriculum of 10+2,” she says.
Like Shah, Saurav Rajbhandari, 21, now an undergraduate student, reminisces about his decision to join bridge course as following a sort of a trend. “Everyone was talking about bridge courses then and I decided to give it a try too,” he says.
Bridge courses are not compulsory but students in large numbers prefer taking the classes in the hope that they get admitted to reputed colleges of the capital. Though these courses offered by mushrooming educational institutions are also referred to as entrance preparation classes, educational counselors claim that such courses prepare students for higher education as well.
But students are not very sure about this claim. “It depends on the students whether the courses prove to be effective or not,” says Shah who also adds that bridge courses did give an insight to her but it didn’t actually bridge the curriculum gap between SLC and 10+2. “But it can be helpful for entrance if you’re focused on learning during these courses,” she says.
As many students take up the courses because their friends have decided to do so, the bridge course can also be another place to hang out or make friends, says Rajbhandari. “I made some friends in the bridge course and it was a place where I could kill my boredom. It engages you for three months before you can get enrolled in colleges, so I was quite happy with the bridge course,” he says.
Shah, on the other hand, says that though more that 90% were there to kill time, the bridge course also helped her to retain her habit of studying.
“When you have a vacation, you tend to ignore studies, and in three months time, it is likely that I lose my interest with books and studies. The bridge course kept me on tab,” she says.
Though she wasn’t regular in the classes, it nonetheless helped her build on her studies and helped her prepare for the entrance examination for the colleges.
Anney Shrestha, 16, who has just completed her SLC examinations, however, thinks otherwise. “Though I’m looking forward to getting engaged somewhere for three months, I don’t think I’ll be joining any bridge courses,” she says. She adds that she’s rather interested in taking up computer courses rather than studying the same subjects from school.
“I haven’t planned about entrance preparations yet. But I’ll certainly get to a good college even without the assistance of bridge courses,” says Shrestha who adds that her parents are also not in favor of bridge courses.
While the effectiveness of bridge courses depends on the students and their expectations from such courses, Shah concludes that it won’t make any difference for one’s higher education.
But Rajbhandari points out that bridge courses can be helpful for those who are really unsure whether they should venture into science, management or humanities in 10+2.
“Many of my friends dropped their idea of getting into science stream after they took the bridge course for science. They were able to evaluate their aptitude and meet other people who shared the same reaction after taking up the courses,” he says.
The debate over the effectiveness of bridge courses and the growing trend of its commercialization is drawing debates, and an increasing numbers of the educational institutions which offer such courses prove that the numbers of students taking up such courses are increasing. While many young students take it as a place to utilize their three-month vacation, it’s required that students and their guardians be aware whether or not these institutions are offering valid deal for their time and money.
Source: Republica National daily, April 5, 2013