The International Baccalaureate (IB) was founded in 1968 and is a non-profit foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. It was set up to develop a globally recognised international pre-university curriculum. Most IB member schools were originally international schools. During the 40-plus years it has been in existence, the IB has grown rapidly and developed beyond is original mission. Today, it offers three programmes: the Primary years Programme (PYP) for 3-12 year olds; the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for 12-16 year olds; and the Diploma programme (DP) for 16-18 year olds. And it serves a range of schools - national as well as international, and state as well as private - that have a common interest in international education and a genuine commitment to the IB philosophy. More than half of all IB World School are now state schools.
There are currently (2013) more than 3,600 IB schools with 1,100,000 students in 145 countries around the world. The diploma programme is offered by 2300 schools and is growing at a rate of about 12% p.a. Every year, more than 30,000 student sit for the IB diploma, and since the first exams in 1970, there have been more than a quarter of a million diploma graduates.
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)
The IBDP can be described in terms of a hexagon consisting of the following six areas: Studies in language & literature; Language acquisition; Individuals & Society; Experimental Sciences; Mathematics & Computer Science; the Arts. Students study six subjects and must choose at least one subject from each of the first five areas. Normally, three subjects are taken at higher level and three at standard level. This gives students the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest them while ensuring that they continue to benefit from a broad-based education. A science-oriented student might, for example, take Physics, Biology and Mathematics at higher level, and English A Literature, French B and Business Studies at standard level. In contrast, a linguist might take French B, German B and English A Literature at higher level, and Visual Arts, Environmental Systems & Societies and Maths Studies at standard level. The diploma programme could thus be said to offer an ideal compromise between breadth and depth.
As well as studying six subjects, students are also required to write a 4,000 word Extended Essay, take a Theory of Knowledge course which focuses on the question “How do you know”, and complete a prescribed amount of Creativity, Action, Service (CAS). These core elements are often said to constitute the heart of the diploma programme and they reflect the IB’s commitment to inquiry-based learning and educating the whole person. As its mission statement makes clear, the IB is also committed to the broader goal of promoting international mindedness and helping to create a better world through education.
For further information, go to the International Baccalaureate official website.