How The International Baccalaureate (IB) Is Differentiating The Talents Of Students

The CAS programme ensures that students develop an ethical and values led consideration of their personal actions alongside the experience of making a genuine commitment and change to society.

It is not well known but India is one of the top five countries in the world (behind USA, Canada, Australia and Ecuador) delivering IB programmes. As of September 2018, the IB boasts 4,943 schools worldwide in over 150 countries with an average growth rate of 39.3% over the past 5 years. It is likely the fastest growing educational programme in the world. And, alongside China, India is one of the fastest growing countries for IB schools. Since 2010, the Indian authorities have recognized an IB Diploma as an entry qualification for Indian universities alongside being recognized as a ‘golden passport’ to top universities worldwide. So, what is special and attractive about this programme that is being seriously considered and taken up in large numbers especially by the rising classes and expectations of a vibrant India? 

There is a continuum of IB programmes for students from Primary age right through to pre-university levels. Most, schools currently focus on the Diploma course that caters for ages 16-18. Students follow a broad range of 6 subjects chosen from the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Languages with a core of Theory of Knowledge (or critical thinking known as TOK), Extended Essay (a 4000-word thesis on a topic of interest) and Creativity, Activity and Service (known as CAS). Curriculums are internationally devised, have strong assessments and are pretty demanding. The IB is not an easy option. And, in a perverse way that is exactly why it is so favoured by universities and students who know that an IB graduate has a higher level of academic achievements across a broad range of subjects than most applicants. Even more, they possess attitudes and skill sets that set them apart from others. This makes them exactly the kind of undergraduate that academics want to work with: students who think critically and know that challenge is an aspirational necessity for success. There is much research evidence to support this. In 2016, the UK Higher education council found that IB graduates are more likely to be the gain entrance to top 20 universities by ranking, gain higher levels of degrees than other students, are more likely to study at Masters and Doctorate level and are less likely to drop out of university. Similar studies have been carried out in USA, Turkey, Australia, China and Japan; all emphasizing the advantages that an IB education brings allowing 71.6% of its graduates to study at a top 500 university worldwide. There are some specific elements that are universally recognized for their excellence:

The critical thinking development of the TOK course develops advanced responses instilling an ability to ask the ‘right’ challenging questions of knowledge and theoretical positions.

The Extended Essay is a very high-quality experience. High-level research skills have to be demonstrated, accurate and honest use of information presented and the development of a fluent academic argument communicated. It is a great training for postgraduate work.

Finally, the academic quality of the subjects followed is monitored and assessed at an international level. Because the International Baccalaureate is an independent organization not linked to any national system, standards are maintained and there are no ‘artificially manipulated’ examination results. 

From age 5 onwards, IB study focuses on individuals. Students learn ‘how to learn’ with the skills and attitudes to develop an ownership ‘of’ and passion ‘for’ their own learning. Students immediately see the significance of global contexts whilst maintaining a rich experience with their own cultural background. IB students become proficient in at least one other language: an obvious advantage in today’s world economy. I often joke with parents that if only we could have put all world leaders of politics, business, education and so on in the same IB classroom, then there just may be more common understandings and healthier respect of others with a shared responsibility for our futures. 

In conclusion, the IB is, A high-quality academic preparation for universities worldwide. And, It develops ethical dynamic students who become world leaders, making a significant contribution to the world.

As a recent UK Admissions officer said: ‘Over the years, IB students stand out from the mass because they are generally more self-disciplined, well-organized and mature. They are balanced and self-critical and accept criticism without getting emotional or personal. They can work under pressure’. And as a tutor at Gonville and Cais College, Cambridge University said: …’we are happy to receive applications from students taking the IB and a fair number of these gain offers from us. We have much respect for the education that the IB provides’. This is a message that is increasingly heard elsewhere. But, above all, I would always say that as an educator it is my privilege not just to see the academic achievements of my graduates but even more to applaud and value the fine human beings that they have become. I am convinced that it is the IB programme that often provides the environment and opportunity for them to do so.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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