IB program offers paradigm shift in education
Last month, on Sept. 20, the Lebanese Parliament approved equalizing the International Baccalaureate with the Lebanese Baccalaureate. This new law was first initiated in the Committee of Education by its head H.E. Mrs. Bahia Hariri.
But what is the IB? Why is it important that it is available to Lebanese students? What benefits can it add to the educational systems in Lebanon?
The IB started in 1968 in Geneva as an educational foundation named International Baccalaureate Organization. The program, which compiles four separate cycles for students aged 3 to 18, was developed to be a holistic educational program that works on the students’ educational achievements and their personal growth equally.
The program aims to equip students with the necessary tools for them to overcome the challenges they will face in life and at the same time prepare them to handle responsibilities in the future. The IB program, which works on the principle that “people who are equipped to make a more just and peaceful world need an education that crosses disciplinary, cultural, national and geographical boundaries,” provides schools with an authorization before they can implement the IB program.
The IB doesn’t only educate learners to be good citizens of the country they live in but also creates students with an international mindset in which they share skills and beliefs with students around the globe in order to reach a better and more peaceful world.
On the other hand, the IB program focuses on teaching the required subjects by following the “learning by doing” approach. However, this approach is not only built on the practical exercises used in each subject but also on spreading the content on different academic subjects.
Hence, students learn to overcome the individual subject boundary by linking what they take in the English session for instance with what they took in the science session.
Accordingly, the IB program, formed and developed by continuous research and more than 40 years of experience, is striving to create learners who are characterized as inquirers, thinkers, communicators, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, risktakers, balanced and reflective.
According to the 2015 “Program for International Student Assessment” results, by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which studied the performance of students in mathematics, science and reading in 72 countries, Lebanon scored 396 in mathematics, 347 in reading, and 386 in science while the OECD countries average was 490 in mathematics, 493 in reading and 493 in science.
But the question begs: Why did some members of Parliament and a group of parents and teachers oppose Parliament’s decision to approve the IB if our educational systems are not reflecting good results globally?
The IB program may have some disadvantages that key policymakers are worried about, but its advantages surpass them for the IB will surely add not only to the development of the Lebanese students but also open up opportunities that were not available to Lebanese students previously.
The IB is a milestone for the Lebanese youth which will increase their competitive advantage in the international university and job markets.
Nahla El-Zibawi project coordinator – Outreach and Leadership Academy, Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.