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Mridusmita Deka|Jun 2, 2023
NEW DELHI : The International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, offered in many schools across the globe, are gradually expanding in India as well. Mahesh Balakrishnan, development and recognition manager of IB (India, Nepal), in a telephonic conversation with Careers360, spoke about how the curriculum offered by the board develops students to think differently and solve problems rather than learn by rote whatever is already in the subject-specific books.
Q. How rapidly is the IB network expanding in India and what do you think is the reason for that?
A. In India we have seen a steady growth of schools delivering one or more IB programmes to students; we currently have 204 IB World Schools and 338 authorised programmes in India. Our flagship programme, the Diploma Programme (IBDP), is offered by most schools, followed by our Primary Years Programme (PYP) while we see rapid growth across all programmes. The growth is attributed to economic prosperity and more awareness of the benefits of IB education.
Q. When did the proliferation of IB schools in India start?
A. There has been an IB school in India since 1976 and we have witnessed a steady growth of schools delivering one or more IB programmes to students. Since 2018, we have witnessed IB expanding to Tier 2 and 3 towns in India.
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Q. Does the IB curriculum include country-specific components? How is it designed?
A. IB, while global, is yet local and we provide flexibility across programmes. For example, Indian languages are offered. There is also the Creativity, Activities and Service [CAS] programme, which is the community service or project over two years. The students are prepared for the future, and become problem-solvers. In the Careers Programme, the students undertake country-relevant career specialisations.
Q. You spoke about community service, from which class are students exposed to it?
A. While IB, DP and CP have the popular CAS and Service Learning Elements, we have the personal project in the Middle Years Programme. Some of our PYP schools also have community projects. We provoke children to ask questions. So, when they ask questions, they learn, they find their answers and teachers and parents facilitate that acquisition of knowledge.
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Q. India also has a few schools affiliated to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examination. How is the IB board different?
A. One can undertake IGCSE as a private student, it is book and assessment-centric examination or course of study with a few providers. IGCSE is only the Grade 9 and Grade 10 curricula. While the concepts are there, it is also highly dependent on books and assessments. IB is school-based, student-centric learning with defined approaches to teaching and learning. Schools undergo a rigorous process of affiliation.
Q. Do IB students take the entrance test for medicine (NEET) or engineering (JEE) in India?
A. IB students are eligible for NEET and JEE. They can opt for Physics, Chemistry and Biology for NEET in addition to other subjects as part of the IB Diploma or Careers Programme. Similarly, they can opt for Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics to be eligible for JEE.
Q. Has any other state approached IB for its public schools?
A. We are in discussion with various agencies in the public and private sectors.
Q. What is the level of acceptance of the IB certificate among Indian institutions of higher education?
A. IBDP and IBCP are recognized by the Association of Indian Universities as equivalent to grade 12 of the national and state boards. We have also received statements of recognition from many universities for our programmes. Our students go on to Indian and global universities after completing their grade 12.
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Q. Is it easier for IB students to go abroad? Do they have to appear for English proficiency tests?
A. IB enjoys global recognition which makes it easier for IB students from India to go overseas. Various universities give exemptions to IB students based on their achievements including exemptions for language test requirements like IELTS and TOEFL. But students are always encouraged to take the SAT for early application and for consideration. Many of our students are also given admission based on the IB predicted scores. Certain universities are exempt if a student attains a score of 5 or more in DP English Language and Literature.
Q. There is much criticism of ‘IB sections’ in schools charging higher fees and leading to further segregation in education. Have you considered making the curriculum more affordable?
A. IB doesn’t dictate the fees charged by schools. IB advocates inclusivity and accessibility. The financial feasibility of a school depends on various factors -location, land costs, cost of capital and more. The school decides what fees to charge. IB schools are also under fee hike restrictions in various states. In many cities across India, IB schools charge fees which are on par with other curricula schools.
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Q. Do you think IB getting an Indian director general in Dr. Siva Kumari in 2014 helped with its expansion in India?
A. While Dr. Siva Kumari was the DG globally, IB grew globally and in India because of the combined efforts of its team, the changing dynamics of India and other factors. Schools look at the value IB provides via transformation through Professional Development or value addition to students in their learning.
We provoke children to ask questions. So, when they ask questions, they learn, they find their answers and teachers and parents facilitate that acquisition of knowledge
IB enjoys global recognition which makes it easier for IB students from India to go overseas. Various universities give exemptions to IB students based on their achievements including exemptions for language test requirements like IELTS and TOEFL.
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