The IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma is one of the fastest-growing and most popular college pathways in schools today, particularly international schools.
Offering an alternative to the long-standing A’ Levels, it’s an assessment programme for those aged 16-19 and is widely recognised in universities worldwide.
While academically challenging, it’s also known as a balanced programme that enhances a student’s personal development – addressing the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students.
There has been much talk in the education industry today about the fourth Industrial revolution and if students are being adequately prepared for it.
According to TechTarget, “The fourth industrial revolution is the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work.”
This is the first robot to answer questions in Parliament.
Pepper spoke to MPs about the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and technology.
— Channel 5 News (@5_News) October 16, 2018
While the fourth industrial revolution builds from the third, it’s considered a new era due to the rapid growth, expansion and disruption of the new technologies.
It’s so disruptive that students today will be graduating into a workforce and applying for jobs that currently don’t exist.
So how does the IB, as a preparation programme for university, get them ready for this new era? In an exclusive interview with StudyInternational, Stefanie Leong, Head of Development & Recognition Asia Pacific, International Baccalaureate shed some light on the topic.
She said, “For 50 years, International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes have gained a reputation for their high academic standards and for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century.
“Each of the IB’s programmes are committed to the development of interpersonal skills within students. A unifying thread throughout IB programmes is the IB learner profile – our organisation’s mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for students to develop during their education.”
#FOESummit: “In order to prepare for the Fourth Industrial revolution, teaching students how to learn is important. The jobs of the future probably don’t exist today therefore students need to be able to continuously learn in order to adapt” – Dan Atkins pic.twitter.com/gLNCoq82ya
— CNBC Africa (@cnbcafrica) November 28, 2018
She said that the overall aim of the IB is to ensure that by the end of their studies, students are “inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective” – key traits relevant for working in the fourth industrial revolution.
These are also known as 21st century skills, essential for kids to learn from an early age to help them prepare for the future and work in future economies.
How is the IB helping students build 21st century skills for the fourth industrial revolution?
How exactly does the IB programme guide students towards developing these 21st century skills? Leong said, “Without a doubt we are living through the beginnings of a powerful Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries.
“These changes will require a workforce that is more flexible and mobile, as well as one where direct skills and knowledge are valued less than adaptability, self-direction and ongoing learning.
“We have an educational duty to prepare our young people to live and succeed in this emerging world, but perhaps more importantly an opportunity to help them shape and lead it as well.”
Leong explained that the IB programme encourages independent learning, curiosity, effective time management and presentation techniques through the core components of the programme: the theory of knowledge (TOK) course, the creativity, activity, service (CAS) project and the extended essay (EE).
How do we prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? As new technology rapidly transforms society in unprecedented ways, we must make sure students are equipped with the right skills. https://t.co/zbnZk5tRjG pic.twitter.com/kBkgpj3MFw
— IB Diploma Programme (@IB_DP) May 3, 2019
Students who graduate with an IB diploma are also well-adapted for university life as the structure of the programme is similar to those offered in university.
She said, “The essential life skills developed are highly valued by university admissions teams, as they allow students to ‘hit the ground running’ when they begin their undergraduate studies.”
Leong also said that too much emphasis is often placed on the importance of academic qualifications when they are actually one of three things that employers are currently seeking in employees.
“The other two things are vocational, career and technology-led qualifications, such as the IB’s Career Programme (CP) and the BTEC in the UK – which can deliver different, equally valuable skills and knowledge; and life skills – which include the ability to work as part of a team, solve problems, manage time and communicate effectively.
“At the IB we have been foregrounding the value of conceptually rich, holistic, creative and collaborative approaches to education for over 50 years. Different educational trends come and go, but the IB steadfastly supports teacher and student inquiry, context-specific flexibility, and authenticity.”
The IB is also constantly being reviewed and adapted to meet the education needs of today. A reflection of this is the Digital Societies course launched earlier this year where students learn about fake news, security, social media algorithms and privacy.
What do parents need to know before enrolling their kids in the IB?
Leong advised parents to visit the school to meet staff, students and other current parents in an IB World School before deciding.
She said, “We are often told that it is the IB students who offer the best insight into the value of the IB curriculum, which is why we encourage prospective parents to attend events like the Primary Years Programme (PYP) exhibition, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) project presentation or to ask current DP students and alumni about their EE, as we know our IB students will be delighted to discuss their academic passions. ”
She also said that before getting swept away by schools’ sales pitches, parents should consider which areas are more important for their child’s development.
“Consider what curriculum the school offers – if you think that your child would benefit from a broad education rather than specialising in a few subjects at an early age, then it is worth considering the IB.
“IB programmes allow students to delay the age at which they have to reduce the number of subjects they study – keeping their learning broad until the end of mandatory full time education, and giving them time to develop their academic passions. ”