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Do you want an International Baccalaureate education for your child?

By Rohit Tikmany
Last updated on: January 31, 2005 15:04 IST
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Today, parents have a plethora of educational boards from which to choose, to enroll their child/ren. It is no longer just the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) or ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education). Get Ahead presents a series of articles on the educational boards gaining popularity today. This is a look at the International Baccalaureate (IB) board.

International BaccalaureateIB is the abbreviation for International Baccalaureate.

It is an internationally-recognised school system made up of three educational programmes:

i. PYP: The Primary Years Programme (Kindergarten to Class 5).

ii. MYP: The Middle Years Programme (Class 6 to Class 10).

iii. DP: The Diploma Programme (Class 11 to Class 12).

The IB programme was founded in 1968 by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), a non-profit educational organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite having its headquarters in Switzerland, the IBO is an international organisation, not associated with any particular country and free of national political educational agendas.

How is IB different from, say, CBSE? Is it only for gifted children? Can my 'normal' child cope up with IB?

The IB programme is more practical and application-based. It has a broader spectrum of subjects that lead to all-round development.

IB examinations test students' knowledge, not their memory and speed. There are no examinations till the Middle Years Programme (Class 10). The focus of the IB pedagogy is on 'how to learn' rather than 'what to learn'.

There are no prescribed textbooks; students can choose their own books.

The purpose of IB is to produce global citizens.

But sometimes, the IB programme does use the local curriculum as a base. For example, Hindi can be offered as a second language in the IB Diploma Programme.

The IB curriculum is more challenging than educational boards like CBSE and ICSE. But the challenge is in the quality of assignments, not in the amount of work assigned.

What are the subjects in PYP?

Subjects in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) are:

1. Language
2. Social Studies
3. Mathematics
4. Science and Technology
5. Arts
6. Personal, Social and Physical education

What are the subjects in MYP?

Subjects in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) are:
1. 1st Language
2. 2nd Language
3. Humanities (History and Geography)
4. Sciences (Biology, Chemistry & Physics)
5. Mathematics (Number, Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, and Discrete Mathematics)
6. Arts (Visual Arts and Performing Arts)
7. Physical Education
8. Technology (Computers)

What are the subjects in DP?

DP students choose one subject from each of the following six 'Subject Groups':

  • Group 1: First Language (English)
  • Group 2: Second Language (French, Hindi, etc).
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies (History, Economics, 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, all DP students must study a two-year course called Theory of Knowledge (TOK); work to produce an Extended Essay (EE); and engage in Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS).

What are TOK, EE and CAS?

Theory of Knowledge is an essay of 1,200-1,600 words written on a given title (from a choice of ten), followed by a ten-minute presentation of the essay by the DP student in class.

Extended Essay is an original independent research leading a DP student to produce a comprehensible written piece of 3,500-4,000 words in any chosen subject and title.

Under Creative, Action and Service, each DP student must complete at least 150 hours spread out over one-and-a-half years, engaging in some form of Creativity, participating in sport or other physical Action, and doing social Service.

What are IB World Schools?

Schools recognised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation and offering the IB curriculum are known as IB World Schools.

There are just 18 IB World Schools in India scattered over 11 cities.

Five of these schools have begun offering IB in the past five months alone.

The list of IB World Schools in India is as follows:

Western India

  • American School of Bombay, Mumbai -- Day school offering PYP, MYP & DP
  • Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai -- Day school offering DP
  • Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai -- Day school offering DP
  • Jamnabai Narsee School, Mumbai -- Day school offering DP
  • Ahmedabad International School, Ahmedabad -- Day School offering PYP
  • Mahatma Gandhi International School, Ahmedabad -- Day school offering MYP
  • Mahindra United World College of India, Pune -- Boarding school offering DP
  • Mercedes-Benz International School, Pune -- Day school offering PYP & MYP

North India

  • American Embassy School, Delhi -- Day school offering DP
  • The British School, Delhi -- Day school offering DP
  • Pathways World School, Gurgaon -- Boarding school offering PYP & DP
  • SelaQui World School, Dehra Dun -- Boarding school offering DP

South India

  • Canadian International School, Bangalore -- Mixed (Boarding & Day) school offering DP
  • The International School of Bangalore, Bangalore – Mixed (Boarding & Day) school offering DP
  • Oakridge International School, Hyderabad -- Day school offering PYP
  • Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore -- Boarding school offering DP
  • Good Shepherd International School, Ooty – Boarding school offering DP
  • Kodaikanal International School, Kodaikanal – Boarding school offering DP

East India

No IB Schools in Eastern India yet.

Only one IB World School in India, The American School of Bombay, is an IB-only school (offering no other curriculum). It is also the only IB World School in India to offer all the three programmes, PYP, MYP and DP.

Can a student do the IB Diploma after completing his/ her schooling through a different board?

Although the PYP, MYP and DP form a continuous sequence, each can be offered independently too.

A CBSE student can join the IB Diploma Programme for 10+2 level qualifications instead of the Class 12 CBSE, ICSE or State Board exams.

Is the IB recognised in India and worldwide?

The rigorousness and high standards of IB ensure that colleges and universities around the worldwide recognise the IB Diploma as a superior academic programme and a strong university entry credential.

Over 50,000 students appeared for the IB Diploma Programme in May 2004.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) rates IB at par with Class 12 CBSE, ICSE, NIOS or State Boards. But every now and then, one hears of stray incidents of IB students finding difficulty in getting admission in certain Indian colleges and universities.

Why should I select IB for my child?

1. The IB Diploma has earned universal reputation for rigorous assessment, giving students access to the top colleges and universities in India and the world. IB is fast becoming the programme of choice for Indian students preparing to pursue higher education abroad.

2. The IB curriculum equips students with the tools needed to succeed in higher education, such as self-confidence, preparedness, research skills, organisational skills and being actively engaged in own learning.

3. Some universities even offer scholarships to IB diploma holders.

4. University admissions around the world are getting competitive by the day. Admission officers are increasingly looking for other evidence that a student will succeed in the university - such as exposure to quality curriculum, research abilities, international outlook and social service - all enhanced by IB.

Is the IB only for the elite?

Pursuing the IB programme can be very expensive, with annual fees as high as Rs 250,000.

But the IBO vigorously maintains that the IB programme is not elitist. Mahatma Gandhi International School, an IB World School based in Ahmedabad, is a 200-student municipal school where slum children study together with expatriate children.

How can I teach at an IB World School?

The IBO conducts frequent workshops for prospective and experienced IB World School teachers.

A workshop is scheduled to take place from March 18 to March 20 at the Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai.

Next: The IGCSE board: how can it help your child?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

Rohit Tikmany is the Chief Operating Officer at SML Group, which conducts several schools and colleges in Mumbai. He is the organiser of India's first Flash Mob and writes on education, technology, education technology and technology education.

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Rohit Tikmany