The International Baccalaureate (IB) was created to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”. It is a progressive education framework with international education credentials which have earned global recognition within some of the most respected academic institutions around the world. With this spotlight on the Diploma Programme (DP), one often misses noticing its other programmes such as the Primary Years Programme (PYP, for students aged 3 to 12 years) and the Middle Years Programme (MYP, for ages 11 to 16). As these are driven by the same goals as the Diploma Program, together the three form a continuum of progressive education. For a school, affiliation to these reflects the depth of its alignment to the IB philosophy.
The PYP focuses on the development of the whole child. As with any formative program, the PYP is one that will build the strong personal values and learner profile that will serve the students into their adult lives. A stepping stone for students who pursue further IB programs such as MYP and the DP. The PYP develops the social, emotional, and cognitive well-being of the students. An early attempt to develop independent learners who possess curiosity and inquisitiveness, “imploring them to ask big questions, and search for big answers”.
The leadership in the CBSE system (and other boards in India) have also taken great strides towards modernising its framework for an innovative and future ready system. However, they lag behind in the holistic learning experience as they are still weighted towards exam scores. CBSE is the board of choice for future engineering and medical students in the Indian education system. Due to this ecosystem that CBSE supports, students in a CBSE school focus more on memorisation and test taking. This method of learning is not geared to support dynamic thinking, and critical analysis that is required to solve open ended problems of the real world.
Conversely, the PYP is a curriculum framework designed to be holistic, with essential elements — the knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and action that young students need to equip them for successful lives. Schools work with the five elements to construct a rigorous and challenging primary curriculum that focuses on issues that go across subject areas.
The PYP also ascribes importance to projects, presentations, and personal development. As a result, the PYP students hone their presentation, public speakingand communication skills over the years of the programme. The outcome is a confident, inquisitive, articulate learner. Students also develop creative and cognitive thinking skills in the programme that provide a strong foundation for thought and analysis. As a result, students are likely to be open to new ideas and to assess them objectively.
As one lists the benefits of the PYP, one realizes that there is emphasis on the 4 Cs for a 21st century education. Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. The IB framework is progressive and is geared towards providing students with the skill sets required in the 21st century. The framework is an enabler for a school pursuing 21st century education. An affiliation to IB, has its associated costs, financial concerns which may not be transferable to the students. Some schools might not be able to affiliate themselves to these early programs.
Such an education in progressive schools is gaining acceptance across the world. CBSE has incentives for “innovative schools”. I would say, the nature of progressive education can be achieved in schools through IB and other alternative programmes. It is the commitment of the school leadership that will determine its ability to achieve such an outcome. However, as an IB school implementing the PYP curriculum, this is the only kind of education that can be imparted. Its framework is designed for that.
An affiliation to IB programmes is a public statement, a certificate (if you will), that the school has committed itself to such a progressive education. If a school has taken up the IB diploma program, and it suits their budgets, we encourage them to take up the continuum, whole heartedly.