International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program

The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program has gained tremendous recognition in the past few years and is now preferred by those with aspirations beyond the conventional Indian dream. The IB curriculum fosters the individual spirit in a child. The learning system is very inclined towards skill building and encourages critical thinking in a child. While schools are vying for a share of the IB pie, let’s take a peek at what the IB offers.

Origins and Growth:

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), which originated in 1968 in Europe, prioritizes the need to place students on an international platform, regardless of where they live. Today, there are more than 617,000 IB students at 2322 schools in 128n countries. The IB program incorporates the best elements of several national educational systems with a focus on academic rigor and international perspective. The purpose of IB is to produce global citizens.

The IB program is rapidly gaining prominence in India especially the diploma program for students of class 11 and 12. Currently there are 18 IB schools in India. A IB diploma student says, the program has given a sense of community and the IB’s focus on creating well-rounded individuals has helped gain self-confidence. He has become more active, compassionate and committed to life long learning. The IB diploma allows the student to choose a combination of Science and non-science subjects that the Indian boards don’t allow. This allows the child to get a mixed exposure.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program:

Rather than making a choice between the conventional streams of science, arts or commerce, students who opt to pursue the IB diploma program learn regular subjects like mathematics and science, along with performing and visual arts. Before they graduate they are expected to choose one from each of the six subject groups:

Group 1: First language (English)
Group 2: Second language (French, Hindi, etc)
Group 3: Individuals and societies (history, economies, business and management, etc)
Group 4: Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics and environmental systems)
Group 5: Mathematics and computer science
Group 6: Electives (either visual arts, or a second subject from groups 3, 4 or 5)

In addition to this, students are also made to take a Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and Creativity, Action and Service course during their two year course. The first part entails an in depth essay, supported buy a 10 minute presentation on the topic chosen by the student. The second part involves original, independent research to produce an exhaustive manuscript piece of 4000 words on any topic. Finally, the third part encourages students to be involved in artistic pursuits, sports and community service work for a minimum of 150 hours, thus fostering students’ awareness and appreciation of life outside the academic.

A first student to join the IB Diploma program initiated by the Dhirubhai Ambani International School says, the two year IB curriculum offered many opportunities to build ones strengths. It offered challenges – academic, artistic and sporting as well as an understanding of community responsibility through the CAS requirement.

The IB diploma also gives students an edge while applying for admission to universities abroad. As it is recognized world over, it is useful in gaining credits, advanced standing and scholarships for students. As the US rates IB qualifications very highly, many students who score excellent grades in the IB diploma have been given fee waivers, of up to one year. Those who are keen to re-enter the Indian education system after class 12 need not worry either. Mumbai University has clarified, in a letter, to IB representatives for South Asia, that IB diploma holders will be eligible for all technical courses like engineering and pharmacy, as well as regular degree courses in the science, arts and commerce streams, provided they opt for the subject combinations on offer.

A parent considering the IB as an option for her child says, “I feel that the IB curriculum equips children with tools such as self-confidence, research skills, organizational skills and a knack for self learning all of which are needed to succeed in higher education, whether in India or abroad. This will go along way in shaping their personalities”.

However, the IB diploma program has its flipside too its’ benefits come at a hefty price. A single year’s education in an IB school would be between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs three lakh for tuition alone. For a typical middle class family in urban India, this can work out to be rather unaffordable. There are several protagonists of the HSC education system that accuse the IB program of being elitist.

Cost factor aside, the IB diploma program promotes the powerful ideas and confidence that education can reshape the way in which the world thinks about itself. It should definitely be looked at as a viable option for students after class 10, preparing them not only for the future, but for life as a whole.