British Council’s Harsh Treatment of Students: A Call for Action

A recent incident at a British Council Bangladesh exam center, but an often happening one, where a student was not allowed to sit for his A Level exam due to not bringing his passport, is not only disappointing but also a reflection of the poor attitude and management of the exam authorities at the British Council. This incident on Jan 09, 2023, where the exam venue was at Oxford International School (Dhanmondi), is not only an isolated one but is part of a larger pattern of students being harassed and mistreated by the British Council over the years.

The student in question arrived at the exam center an hour early before the exam starting time (30 minutes before the gate closing time) but was not allowed to give the exam because he had forgotten to bring his passport. However, he did have his Statement of Entry which has all the main details such as Passport Number, Subject name, Candidate Number, Center Number, etc. When he informed the invigilators that he could go back home and quickly retrieve it, they assured him that it would be okay, and told him “Don’t panic, just wait here and we will manage”. However, when the exam gate closing time arrived about half an hour later, the student was told that he could not sit for the exam and would have to leave and that he could re-register for the next session in June 2023, as if it was a simple matter.

Furthermore, students are paying hefty sums of money for each subject that they are taking the exam on. And not being allowed to sit for it, means they have to re-register and spend thousands again to sit for the exam, and also delay their higher education in the country and abroad. This not only causes a financial burden on the students but also creates a lot of mental stress. It’s very disheartening for students to invest so much money and time into preparing for an exam, only to be denied the opportunity to sit for it.

This kind of treatment is unacceptable and it is a clear indication of the lack of understanding and flexibility of the exam authorities at the British Council Bangladesh. The student had informed them that he could retrieve the necessary documents within a reasonable time frame, before the gate closing time and yet, they refused to allow him to sit for the exam. The student even said, “Please allow me to enter and sit for the exam, my brother is already on the way and will be here any minute with my passport. If he doesn’t come just terminate my paper.” But instead of understanding the student’s situation, the invigilators acted very rudely and threatened to ban his candidate number entirely so that he can’t give any exams at all. This kind of behavior is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Furthermore, the incident was witnessed by other parents who also requested the invigilators to take the student in, but their efforts were in vain as the invigilators continued to act in a rude and unprofessional manner. The parents noticed that the invigilators were more interested in enforcing rules rather than being understanding and flexible in the given situation.

Additionally, the British Council should also take into account that students are already under a lot of stress during exams and such human mistakes often happen, and the authorities should have the ability to handle such situations with kindness and understanding. The British Council should strive to create an environment where students feel comfortable and not stressed so that they can perform their best during the exams.

These recurring incidents at the British Council Bangladesh exam centers are clear indications of the poor attitude and management of the exam authorities and the British Council Bangladesh must take immediate action to address this issue and ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. The examination authorities should understand that students are their customers, and they should be treated with respect. If the British Council fails to do so, it will only lead to a loss of trust and confidence in the organization.

It is important to note that multiple similar reports and complaints from students and parents can be found in online forums and Facebook groups such as “A and O Level Students of Bangladesh” and “Nerd Community” every year. Many students have reported being disallowed from taking the exam even for being a few minutes late due to traffic congestion in Dhaka. This rigid attitude towards punctuality demonstrates a lack of understanding of the challenges faced by students living in a city like Dhaka where the traffic congestions are insane.

Additionally, there are reports of invigilators replying sarcastically when a student asks a question in Bengali instead of English, which highlights a lack of cultural sensitivity and understanding. This kind of behavior from invigilators is disrespectful and unprofessional and can cause immense distraction and might badly affect the confidence of the student during the exam.

Furthermore, there are also complaints from students that even after following all rules and being on time, and giving the exam very well, when they get the result it shows “Ungraded”. And often when it is taken to the authorities, no real solution is provided. This lack of transparency and accountability in the examination process undermines the integrity of the examination process and can cause immense frustration and disappointment for students and negatively impact their education and career.

It is imperative that the Pearson Edexcel board and Cambridge International Examination Board take immediate action to address this issue as it not only affects the individual student involved in this incident but also sets a precedent for how future students will be treated. The inflexible attitude displayed by the British Council and its invigilators undermines the importance of education and the value of a student’s hard work and dedication.

It is also important for the boards to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the examination process. The parents and students should have access to the examination rules and regulations and be informed of their rights and the process for appeals and grievances. This will help to build trust and confidence in the examination process and ensure that students are treated fairly.

The Pearson Edexcel board and Cambridge International Examination Board must take appropriate measures to ensure that students are treated with fairness, empathy, and understanding during exams. This can be achieved by implementing strict guidelines for invigilators on how to handle such situations, providing training on how to handle high-stress situations, and ensuring that there is a clear and defined process for appeals and grievances. The board should conduct regular audits and inspections of the examination centers to ensure that the invigilators are adhering to these guidelines. This is essential for maintaining the integrity of the examination process and ensuring that students receive the education they deserve.

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