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At the end of July, Ruchira Ghosh leaves Cambridge International after five years in the role of Regional Director, South Asia. Here she looks back at how much has changed during that time.
'Five years ago my gentle natured and infinitely knowledgeable predecessor, William Bickerdike, handed me the baton of a budding Cambridge community in South Asia with 300 schools, four team members and two consultants. It was then known as CIE - not Cambridge International Examinations - and had other quirky persona such as 'IGCSE board', 'IG board', 'UK O Levels' and other names that were linked with exams and qualifications. International education was a lesser known beast at the time, though a lot of prestige was attached with being an international school and 'affiliated' to an international board. Our then Chief Executive, Michael O’Sullivan, had also just announced the plans for a brand new March exam series for India.
Today Cambridge International, as we are now known, is well regarded as an organisation which offers quality international education with a strong focus on teaching and learning along with world class curriculum and assessments. We are a strong team of 13 (going on 14) in South Asia looking after a thriving community of nearly 700 schools across the region. As I write this, I am reminded that our 500th school in India is one step away from coming on board.
From 9 IGCSEs in March 2015 to 21 IGCSEs and 14 AS & A Levels in March 2021, we have added further choice and flexibility for Cambridge learners in India. We are among the pioneer regions of Cambridge International to have developed a pool of competent in-country trainers to expand professional development provision for Cambridge teachers and leaders. We are working with many more state and private universities to ensure Cambridge qualifications are well understood and recognised. We are developing some interesting joint initiatives in the region with our sister organisations Cambridge English and Cambridge University Press. We continue to develop our partnership with the International Award for Young People – known as Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award globally. We enjoy symbiotic relationships with school associations and media organisations across South Asia.
We are working with some of the best and the most respected schools in the region and have a mutually rewarding partnership with the British Council to deliver greater impact for young people in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. We have introduced school re-approvals to ensure Cambridge schools continue to uphold the quality standards.
Over the last couple of years, Cambridge School Communities in South Asia have become self-sustaining professional learning communities that embody Cambridge attributes and support each other in becoming confident, engaged, innovative, reflective and responsible. When we seeded the idea, never did we imagine in our wildest dreams that international schools would compete to host collaborative events and meets.
As I step down from this role after five fulfilling years, I am reminded of something interesting I read in a blog post – you do not always have to step outside your comfort zone in order to gain new experiences and grow; you can expand the comfort zone.
Here’s my spin - my passion lies in school education and Cambridge International is my comfort zone today. In leaving the organisation, I am not stepping entirely outside my comfort zone but stretching my limits to carry forward the mission of preparing school students for life, albeit in a different role and from the frontline this time. This is how I describe Staying In and Stretching Out.
Thank you to the Cambridge schools’ community in South Asia for being part of this amazing journey with me. This journey has been particularly rewarding because of the combined force of my talented and committed team in South Asia and our teams in Cambridge. As I leave you in their safe hands, I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues and wish them more laurels and bright futures. Au revoir; goodbye till we meet again. And we certainly will!'