The International School of Uganda (ISU) is a not-for-profit, parent owned school, offering the International Baccalaureate programmes for students 3 to 19 years old. As the International Baccalaureate (IB) celebrates its 50th year it is an opportunity to reflect on why parents choose the IB. I have worked with the IB for 13 years, as a teacher, coordinator, college counselor, principal and parent. To answer the question of why choose the IB, I could speak about the rigor and holistic nature of the programmes, or the fact that IB students can be accelerated to the second year of university, or that they arrive at university better trained in academic research, writing and study. However, the reason to choose the IB is more than the academic success its students are known for.
To understand why you should choose the IB, it would be helpful to start with the end in mind. What is our hope for our children at the end of the educational journey? To get the highest grades possible? To get into the best universities? To get a great job? Herein lies the difference between the IB and other curricula. The IB explicitly focuses on learning for life, not just success in the next hurdle. Its aim is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world. In fact, there isnt an end to the educational journey. Its purpose is about who our children will become, not just what they can do or understand.
I was once asked by a prospective family why they should choose the IB over an alternative curriculum offered here in Kampala. I explained that the alternative curriculum would very likely enable their child to succeed in getting entry to a good university. But the IB is not only about preparing for the next step, its about preparing for life. Our students illustrate this to us every day. Yesterday a nine-year-old girl asked myself and my colleague if they could play after eating their lunch. My colleague responded, Yes, its fine even though it is not yet time. The child turned, looked at her own watch, and replied Its ok, we still have five more minutes to eat, Ill wait. This action illustrated one of those ten IB goals of being principled. Even though her teachers said it was fine, she felt she should honour the lunch agreement.
Children in the IB programmes are expected to live out their learning. They are given freedom and encouragement to make choices for the betterment of their society. Not because they have to, but because they want to. The curriculum, the classroom and the school day is driven by the childrens ideas, needs and interests. Education is not something that moulds the child, it is something that they can mould. Their ideas and thoughts are regarded with high respect and consideration, empowering them to own their learning, make decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
Education has often been tasked with the challenge of creating law abiding, disciplined citizens who are trained for the workplace. However, these traditional structures can often just create compliance. And that compliance creates individuals who are not trained to question, to take risks or consider what if?. They are not encouraged to think creatively to solve todays complex problems, nor are they encouraged to take risks to challenge the status quo or take action to speak up for injustices in society or the abuse of the environment.
If you want your child to succeed in education, choose a school that demonstrates successful admission to great universities. If you want your child to succeed in life, choose the IB.
For more information about IB at ISU, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.isu.ac.ug. ISU offers financial assistance for self-paying families. Visitors are welcome to the campus.