International Baccalaureate (IB): Is It For Your Child?

2 year(s) ago
International Baccalaureate (IB): Is It For Your Child?

"So do you think my child can pass an IIT entrance exam?" This question was asked by a couple who were hunting for a suitable school for their 3-year-old son.  Initially I was shocked by this question since I am an educator of a school that believes in offering a great schooling experience where children love coming to school.  However, thinking deeper, as a parent I could understand the sentiment behind that question.  For every parent their children are the most precious and they see their children's education as the most valuable investment done for the future.

Every new parent goes through the dilemma of ‘choosing a right school' soon after the child is born. Honestly, there is no right or wrong way of doing things because as parents we all care about our kids and want to give them the best possible learning opportunities.  However, before choosing the learning environment parents need to first understand their own mindset towards education.

Most of the parents in their 30s have gone through a traditional schooling system and have turned out as perfectly fine individuals.  So why do we care so much for our next generation's schooling? Simply asking questions such as "Do I want her to experience the same schooling as I did? Do I want her to be a member of a particular clan? Do I want to bring out the best of her abilities? Where will she flourish the most? Can I let her choose her own paths in future?" and so on will help clarify your own parental role into your child's education.

It is a very exciting time for education in India. I agree that sometimes the schools and various boards that are available appear to be very chaotic but now there is a CHOICE! As parents we get to learn the differences between various boards of education. SSC has a curriculum designed within the context of State; whereas ICSE and CBSE each follow the same nationwide curriculum. IGCSE offers the curriculum designed at the Cambridge University and affiliated schools follow their syllabus.

All of these boards offer a syllabus that provides the content which should be taught inside your classroom.  That means that regardless of your location in India, if you share a board, your studies are determined by your age level and what is prescribed by that board—including books, how much content to cover and tests.

Well known amongst international school communities is International Baccalaureate (IB). IB provides a framework for the curricula to be taught within classrooms, but educators are actually in charge of developing the curricula, selecting books, which content to cover (within the framework of course) and how to assess students.

IB was established in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland. It started as an NGO under the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.  IB began as an organization that originally served international mobile children.  The aim was to provide education which can be transferred to any part of the world and create a network where children and families who were mobile felt a sense of belonging. IB schools aim to create 21st century learning experiences in which students can build connections between their studies and the world outside their classrooms.

IB originally started out as just the Diploma Programme to prepare students to enter international universities.  Later, IB incorporated three programmes for educating children from ages 3 to 19 years of age. IB offers three different programmes: Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP).  Let's look at each one of them briefly.

The Primary Years Programme

was introduced in 1997 for the 3-12 age group.  This programme focuses on development of the child in the classroom.  That means they not only learn subject areas and skills; but also learn about attitudes, personal, social and physical awareness.  The programme is described as "transdiciplinary," which means that learning is taught in an authentic context and across disciplines.  Skills are taught through universal themes such as who we are, where we are in place and time, how we express ourselves, how we organize ourselves, how the world works, and sharing the planet. The emphasis is given on the developing enduring understanding for the universal concepts rather than just the content.

The Middle Years Programme

started in 1994 for the ages 11to16.  MYP provides an academic framework to promote life skills.  This programme is "interdisciplinary," which emphasizes the connections between subject matter across disciplines. There is a lot of emphasis on process over product and assessment is built into student's engagement in the process of learning. The MYP curriculum framework comprises eight subject groups, providing a broad and balanced education for early adolescents.

The Diploma Programme

started in 1968 for the ages 16 to 19.  It is a two year programme which is designed to equip students to enter into international universities. In this programme, the approach toward learning is "disciplinary," which means students study deeply in specific domains, such as the sciences, the arts, social studies or other traditional areas of study.  This programme emphasizes students' abilities to relate what they learn to their outside global community.

The three defining characteristics of this programme are the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge and the Creative Action Service. The extended essay is a piece of writing that offers the opportunity for IB students to investigate a topic of special interest, and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at international universities.  The Theory of Knowledge is a course that is designed to promote critical thinking and examine what knowledge is itself.  Creativity, Action, Service is the part of the Diploma Programme which emphasizes well rounded-ness—how do students engage with the arts? How do they demonstrate service to their communities?

Each IB programme is treated separately for accreditation. Schools undergo rigorous and lengthy accreditation process for individual programme. IB programmes offer curricular framework to the schools within which schools and teachers design their own curriculum content based on the needs of their students which requires ongoing assessments which includes formal, informal, formative and summative assessments. IB standards and requirements ensure that schools follow certain teaching practices that ensure the students are at the centre of the curriculum and teachers are constantly reflective about their curricula as well as teaching practices.

IB schools work to ensure that their programmes have graduates that are inquirers, balanced, open-minded, thinkers, caring, knowledgeable, reflective, communicators, principled and risk takers. Whether you are referring to the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme or the Diploma Programme, the goal is to develop students in these Learner Profile attributes. A typical IB graduate has cultivated international mindedness through training in thinking flexibly and open-minded while collaborating.  IB programmes emphasis on the process more than product.  IB programmes cultivate graduates who are lifelong learners and with their international mindedness are the true global citizens.

Read blogs on similar topic:

Which Indian Educational Board to Choose For Your Child? - by Radhika Chitre. Click here to read -

11 FAQ's About IGCSE Board For Your Child - by Radhika Chitre. Click here to read -

15 FAQ's about International Baccalaureate (IB) - by Team Appystore. Click here to read -


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Hrishikesh Khambete
June 27, 2015 @ 10:53 PM

"Are all schools following the programmes as defined? who is controlling it?"

July 01, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

Hrishikesh, not all schools follow those programmes. Only those international schools who want to be IB schools follow either of the three or all the programmes. It is not the requirement to follow all the three programmes. International Baccalaureate Office oversees or supervise all the IB world schools. Hope I have answered your questions. Let me know if you have more.

Nimisha Joshi
Nimisha is a Teacher and Primary Year Programme Coordinator at an International School. She has two masters; one in English Literature and the other in International Educational Leadership. For her, it is most rewarding to see young learners enjoy their learning, build connections outside their classrooms and ask ‘why?’. Nimisha advocates in designing curriculum, plans teaching instructions and mentors other faculty for cultural interactions. When not at school, she is busy playing, dancing, and exploring new places with her six year old daughter.

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