International Baccalaureate (IB) needs no introduction. In over 4 decades of its existence, IB has gained an enviable reputation for stellar academic standards and preparing students for life. Dr. Siva Kumari the first Indian-Asian to have risen to the rank of Director General of International Baccalaureate (IB), in an elaborate interaction with Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN), exhorts as to what makes IB a global league in education
What enumerates the global presence of IB?
Founded in 1968, currently there are over 1 million IB students at 3,800 schools in 147 countries across the world. In India, the first World School to offer an IB education started way back in 1976. Today, there are 120 Indian schools offering one or more of the four IB programmes. The IB school-leaving diploma has been recognized for admission to undergraduate courses in 56 Indian universities. However, the number of IB schools in this country is far less than the many thousand schools offering the Indian CBSE curriculum or the various regional/state boards.
In what all ways International Baccalaureate Education empowers its students?
Some people just consider IB education as a gateway to continue their higher studies, and also seek for job opportunities abroad. This is true to a limit as universities abroad want well-accomplished applicants. It’s largely a matter of supply and demand. Like everywhere else in the world, it’s considered a big deal to get into globally reputed schools and universities, in India as well. IB education, which is more towards practical teaching and evolving students into responsible and intelligent global citizens, there is a big enabler.
With a whopping presence in over 147 countries, how does IB system stands differentiated?
IB schools believe in developing creativity and just not learning by following instructions. IB education system nurtures abilities of students and brings out the strength of confidence. In IB schools, students are developed to be good thinkers, their skills are honed with an international understanding. We do not just focus on the child’s marksheet, but our non-rigid, cross-disciplinary structure, focus on an all-round development which goes beyond mechanical learning to impart strong social and interpersonal skills with academic excellence.
The cost of IB school education remains a concern for many. What do you have to say about it?
It is certainly a concern, but this is how IB works. We need to maintain the standards of our teaching system. People will have to make the choice where they have to spend money. Interest of parents should be to see that their child is truly educated. Education is more than just completing the 24 sheets of math work in the classroom.
However, it is a matter of time as the way, Indian economy is changing and by what I understand, a lot of money is planned to be spent on education. With Indian parents getting more interested for better education for their children and many MNCs entering the nation, I would imagine that things are changing where economic conditions would not be a barrier for the IB standard education.
Do you have any plans for collaboration with the government in future?
We do not have anything as such in our plans. However, if government expresses interest we can work on it the way we are working with the Japan government. In Japan, most public schools have IB education system.
With over 150 education programs to offer, at what rate are the schools approaching to get the ‘IB’ tag?
We continue to grow at a rate of 5 per cent every year. In the process, the schools are thoroughly screened and then given the IB affiliation. It is a 2-3 years process now, unlike earlier, where it took 5 years.
IB has made outstanding contributions in web based programs for education as well. Can you throw more light on it?
I have been working on Information Technology since 1993. At Rice University I started creating online tools, making distance education, through an online medium, a possibility. While serving as the Chairperson of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) conferences, I created many online assets. I have created a lot of projects including the Advanced Placement Digital Library (DL). Now, at the IB, we are further developing our online education, as we already have a spread across 147 countries.
In IB schools, students are developed to be good thinkers, their skills are honed with an international understanding. We do not just focus on the child’s marksheet, but our non-rigid, cross-disciplinary structure, focus on an all-round development
What are the challenges you see in realizing these IT plans?
Our community is very passionate, and we are hoping to communicate with our community using the information technology as a platform. However, here, the challenge is how to take this passion face to face and take this online community to the next level. We are coming up with the project called ‘Agora’ a Greek word. Through this project we want to collect IB knowledge from across the globe. Once we complete this project, we want to open it to all, so that anyone, from across the globe, can reach out to the IB education system.