What is the International Baccalaureate (IB), and IB program?
The International Baccalaureate is an educational institution founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland that offers three educational programs for students aged 3 to 19. The IB program is an international certified school program developed and operated by the International Baccalaureate. It is a school education system that pursues self-directed growth of learners through conceptual understanding and inquiry learning activities based on competency-based curriculum and is operated by 5,464 schools (as of January 2021) in 161 countries around the world. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is recognized by more than 2,000 universities in 75 countries. In Korea, universities such as Seoul National University, KAIST, and Yonsei University recognize it as a condition for entrance exams for students who have completed high school courses abroad.
How does the IB program work?
There are three programs: the Primary Years Program (PYP) for ages 3 to 12, the Middle Years Program (MYP) for ages 11 to 16, and the Diploma Program (DP) for ages 16 to 19, of which the core course is the Diploma course, which is an international university admission program.
Primary Years Program (PYP), primary course (3-12 years old)
The PYP course is the basic course of the IB program and is a curriculum for students aged 3 to 12. This course makes students interested in learning and helps them prepare for learning by encouraging correct learning attitudes and habits. Not only that, but it also prepares the students to have the right personality as a member of a society.
Middle Years Program (MYP), secondary course (13-16 years old)
The MYP course is a link between the PYP course and DP course, which is provided to students who can approach learning in a more mature and serious manner. Students are required to receive instruction in all eight subject groups: Language Acquisition, Language and Literature, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, Arts, Physical and Health Education, and Design.
Diploma Program (DP), Higher Curriculum, (17-19 years old)
The DP course is a curriculum for students aged 16 to 19. It is a two-year high school course, and as the final stage of the IB program, many students find it difficult due to the amount of study and depth of study that is different from the MYP and PYP courses. In DP, students choose only six subjects that they want to study passionately. In groups 1 and 2, students can choose one mother tongue and one second language; in group 3 (humanities) they can choose between economics, geography, psychology, history, and business administration; in group 4 (science) they can choose between physics, chemistry, biology, environment, and design; in group 5, students study math; and in group 6, students study art which is not mandatory. There are essential assignments for DP students while they are completing DP. The three cores of the IB program are Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Creativity, Action and Service (CAS). EE is a 4000-character essay that is written in the form of a thesis and is to write a thesis on a subject that corresponds to TOK which is a kind of philosophy class where students discuss and study abstract topics such as 'Is man a product of nature? Is human conscience real?' CAS is a volunteer time that DP students must fill, which is similar concept to volunteer hours in Korean schools. Divided into Creativity, Action, and Service segment, Creativity includes cultural activities that grow students themselves (orchestra, photography, dance, musical, etc.), Action includes sports to promote physical health, and Service includes student association activities, volunteer work, or talent donations.
Why is an IB program needed?
The IB program provides an education close to the goal of the high school credit system scheduled to be implemented in Korea. As the era of the 4th industrial revolution approaches, Korea aims to foster future creative global talent that requires creativity and critical thinking skills, not general injection-type education. The IB program is considered appropriate for these goals, and the goal pursued by IB is to understand and respect different cultures, have good knowledge, develop inquiry and consideration, and encourage learners who can be active and empathic in everything.
Progress of domestic IB programs and critical voices
In Korea, the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Office of Education began using IB programs for the first time in 2019 and are currently operating at more than 20 schools nationwide. Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, which has the largest number of schools and students among 17 provincial offices of education across the country, is introducing IB programs in earnest. Following Gyeonggi-do Province, Busan City and Chungcheongnam-do Province decided to introduce IB from this year and started to create a foundation. The existing curriculum of elementary, middle, and high schools focuses on memorization and simple knowledge transfer. Evaluations are also centered on multiple choice, so it has been pointed out that it cannot raise problem-solving talents to lead the era of the 4th industrial revolution. This is why IB is rapidly emerging as a future curriculum and evaluation system. In particular, as the 2022 revised curriculum, which was finalized and announced at the end of last year, values learners' self-directedness, problem-solving ability, and creative and integrated thinking, interest in IB programs is expected to increase. In addition, the IB program is widely expected to be an option if the high school credit system, which is based on the introduction of elective subject-oriented classes and absolute evaluation of school records, is implemented from 2025. Some point out that the introduction of IB has great side effects while maintaining a college entrance system centered on the College Scholastic Ability Test. It is necessary to first discuss ways to fairly evaluate students who have completed IB courses in the relative evaluation of the Korean SAT and GPA systems and those who have not.