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The magazine of the International Baccalaureate

March 2014 | Issue 69

The path ahead Razia Jan is on a one-woman mission to improve the lives of girls in Afghanistan


21ST-CENTURY ASSESSMENT How testing methods must respond to global challenges VOCATIONS IN ACTION IBCC students reveal how the hands-on programme is preparing them for work

Welcome to the world of the IB Welcome to the March 2014 issue of IB World, the official magazine of the International Baccalaureate


he programmes of the International Baccalaureate have a long-standing reputation for their academic and personal rigour, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal growth, and develop a lifelong thirst for learning. The IB aspires to help schools develop well-rounded students who respond to challenges with optimism and open minds, are confident in their own identities, make ethical decisions, join with others in celebrating our common humanity and are prepared to apply what they learn in realworld, complex situations. We now work with around 3,700 schools (both state and privately funded) that share our commitment to international education. More than one million

Did you know...

students in 147 countries study our four programmes, which are designed to: • help students develop the attitudes and skills they need for both academic and personal success • be student-centred, promoting personal challenge • offer a broad curriculum with significant content • explore globally significant ideas and issues The Primary Years Programme (PYP) For students aged three to 12 years, the PYP focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) For pupils aged 11 to 16, the MYP provides a framework of academic

challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world. The IB Diploma Programme (DP) For students aged 16 to 19, this is an academically challenging programme with final examinations that prepare students for success at university and beyond. The IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC) For students aged 16 to 19, the IBCC consists of DP courses studied alongside a unique IBCC core. The IBCC is designed to increase access to an IB education and provides a flexible learning framework tailored by the school to meet the needs of their students and the wider community.

the extended essay develops DP students in five ways?

Three new research studies conducted by McGill University (Canada), University of Warwick (UK) and University of Virginia (USA) reveal five ways that Diploma Programme students become better prepared for higher education by writing their extended essays. The activity: 1. Inspires a broad view of learning, beyond memorization of facts 2. Helps students become critical, independent thinkers 3. Develops skills vital to academic success: organization, reading, writing and reasoning 4. Encourages appreciation of the importance of research for learning and future career success 5. Gives students the confidence to design, conduct and analyse research Find the executive summaries and full research reports at

International Baccalaureate ® | Baccalaureate International ® | Bachillerato Internacional ®

IB World Editor Cathryn Newbery IB Editor Jenan Al-haddad Staff Writer Grace Lewis Production Editor Sarah Dyson Designers Chris Barker, Amy Hanbidge Picture Editors Dominique Campbell, Jenny Quiggin Senior Account Manager Steph Allister Account Director Justine Loehry Group Art Director Martin Tullett Production Manager Jade Pickard Senior Editor Robert Jeffery Editorial Director Simon Kanter Managing Director, Haymarket Network Andrew Taplin Reproduction Haymarket Pre-press Printed by Wyndeham Heron, UK Published on behalf of IB by Haymarket Network, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BE, UK Tel +44 (0)208 267 5000 Fax +44 (0)208 267 5194 Cover photography Karen Wong

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2014. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without prior permission of the publisher. Every care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, but neither Haymarket Network nor the International Baccalaureate can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information therein, or any consequence arising from it. Views expressed by contributors may not reflect the views of Haymarket Network or the International Baccalaureate. The advertisement of products and services does not imply endorsement by either Haymarket Network or the IB. Prices and offers are correct at time of going to press and subject to change. All offers are subject to manufacturer’s terms and conditions.




March 2014


p 14“Nobody told us to wear the burqa: we were free. I want girls now to have these opportunities”

Also in this issue

4 NEWS New support services for schools; PYP review continues apace; students shine at Tedx youth conference


10 COVER STORY RAZIA JAN Determined that today’s generation of Afghan girls should benefit from the same education she received, Razia Jan has built a school out of nothing in just seven years

27 Q&A New Director General Dr Siva Kumari discusses her plans for the IB in the run-up to its 50th anniversary in 2018


14 TESTING TIMES Time for a new era of assessment, say critics. The IB is leading the charge with conceptbased exams for MYP students, coming 2016

30 READY FOR WORK We investigate how the IBCC is preparing students for life after the IB’s programmes

20 SCIENCE’S SECRETS REVEALED Harvard’s Bruno della Chiesa explains how neuroscience’s discoveries could translate to new teaching and learning techniques


22 BEYOND THE DESK Draw inspiration from these creative learning environments to help you develop engaging and exciting spaces in your school


26 COMMUNITY South Africa via Skype; visual arts aids emotional recovery from bullying; mosaic magic in Mauritius

Archimage/Alamy; Karen Wong, Reuters/Jianan Yu; Illustration: Paul Frost

22 20


25 INSIGHT Bring other languages into the classroom to improve Language A poetry understanding

IB World Schools from 17 countries feature in this issue of IB World. To appear in the next issue...

30 ALUMNUS Dr Abiodun Williams, President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, on his personal quest to resolve conflict

email or write to IB World, Haymarket Network, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 9BE, UK IBWorld 3

Editor’s letter


Following last autumn’s celebration of the IB’s 45th anniversary, in this issue of IB World magazine our sights are firmly fixed on innovations that will be coming to a classroom near you soon.

We’ve also talked to inspirational leaders who are reshaping education as we know it. Dr Siva Kumari, the new Director General, reveals her dreams for the IB and what drives her to work tirelessly to improve standards (p27). Razia Jan is striving to give Afghan girls access to education and the economic independence they deserve (p10), while on page 20 Professor Bruno della Chiesa reveals neuroscience’s potential to spark excitement in a whole new generation of learners. Cathryn Newbery, Editor

How to subscribe You can save 75% on the cover price of IB World with a bulk subscription of 50 copies – or 16% with a single subscription costing UK£15 or US$30. To find out more, visit or call +44 (0)1795 592 981. To advertise in IB World, contact 4 IBWorld

Stephen Shepherd

On page 14 we look at education systems’ recent attempts to overhaul testing and teaching to prepare students for life after school, and the IB’s plans to introduce innovative optional eAssessments for MYP students. And on page 30, we evaluate the IBCC’s success in preparing students for the world of work.

Could your school trial new support services?

New ways the IB is working for you 300 pages of data, observations and recommendations, and 15 members of the wider IB team… now comes the hard part: deciding which services to pilot in 2014


B World Schools are being offered the chance to pilot one of eight possible new services, following the Differentiated Services for Schools (DSS) project. “The new services aim to provide more support, beyond the resources that are already available, for any school who needs it,” says Pamela Bender, Head of Pre-Authorization Services, Global School Services (GSS) at the IB and member of the DSS project team. Each of the chosen services will be offered across three tiers, ranging from ‘self-help’ documents and online resources to virtual interaction, webinars and forums, and a consultancy service. “Tier three is where the programme will be much more customer-orientated and personalized to the school,” Bender explains. “This might involve on-site visits from IB experts or authorized providers.” Only two of the proposals are focused on specific IB programmes, but each of the services will act as a framework that will develop as the IB grows. The GSS team plan to roll out the ‘Whole Programme Change’ – service titles are not yet finalized – alongside the MYP curriculum change in September this year. “We will provide support to schools going through the transition,” says project member Erin Albright,

Head of Post-Authorization Services, Global School Services at the IB. “This service will provide schools with extra help that can be tailored to a school’s particular focus and area of need.” Diploma Programme assessment-related services will help schools use and analyse examination results, and take effective follow-up action. “Schools get a lot of assessment data but often don’t know what to do with it,” Albright says. “The new service will make it quicker and easier to implement strategies based on results.” Other services aim to embed the IB’s curriculum in schools and align the IB programme with national and state requirements. Greater support will also be provided to senior-level IB educators, as well as heads of schools and district superintendents. Bender says that the proposed service for these groups of school leaders will increase their familiarity with the IB, “helping them to better understand the programmes and IB process, enabling them to effectively support their heads, coordinators, and teachers, and build a stronger connection between the IB and these key decision makers.” The DSS team is currently deciding which of these new services to implement. To volunteer for a pilot scheme, visit:

Students share visions of academic honesty Competitors from 12 countries created thought-provoking and insightful short films to improve understanding of founding principle of IB Diploma Programme Bettina Campomanes from The Beacon Academy in Laguna, the Philippines, has been named the winner of the IB’s first academic honesty competition. Diploma Programme students were invited to produce a short film to explain “why is it important to uphold the principle of academic honesty in the IB community.” The winning entry, Reluctance, was a firm favourite with the judges. Chief Assessment Officer Carolyn Adams praised Bettina for creating the most reflective and inspiring entry, saying: “Bettina’s interpretation of the subject matter was well considered and the panel felt it portrayed the topic

thoughtfully and imaginatively.” Academic honesty is a fundamental value of the IB, and students have long been encouraged to understand and apply the basics of intellectual property and authenticity. The competition gave students a chance to share the importance of practising academic honesty in their own words. “My goal was to make the audience understand the concept of honesty through a generalized interpretation of cheating,” says Bettina. “In a way, my film is a point of view that is open to others for their personal interpretation.”You can view her film at: Bettina hopes to create films in the future

PYP review gathers momentum

Martin Stacho

Extensive consultation confirms PYP’s strengths and identifies challenges to tackle “If I had to summarize the review of the PYP in just one word, it would be ‘opportunity’,” says Helen Barrett, Head of PYP Development. An extensive review of the IB’s fastest-growing programme began in 2012 to determine where its strengths lie and whether it is still fit for purpose. Research and data gathered so far confirms that the underpinning educational and philosophical concepts are sound and as relevant today as they were when the PYP was launched in 1997. But Barrett admits there is still room for improvement. “Our educators tell us that lack of clarity in the articulation and communication of the programme, and support for implementation of the framework, present challenges,” she says. “These will

be areas of focus for us in the future.” The IB has so far identified six major themes to investigate, which were outlined in a recent consultation paper. Specialist teams, consisting of leading PYP practitioners and academic experts, will explore these topics in more depth. “We’ll keep our community informed with regular reports and webinars throughout 2014,” Barrett explains. There will also be the chance for educators to share their feedback, “to help strengthen and enrich the curriculum framework and provide potential areas for innovation,” she says. “Our ambition for the PYP is clear; to become the curriculum of choice for international primary education and, perhaps more importantly, inspire current and future generations of young students to become lifelong learners, and provide them with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world.” More information on review activities is available on the OCC and SharingPYP blog.

School report Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville, Florida, USA Founded 1868 (re-dedicated as a ‘magnet’ school in 1981 and an IB World School in 1983) Programmes IB Diploma Programme Students 14-18 years Motto “A Community of Learners Committed to Academic Excellence” Website Stanton College is one of the oldest continually operating public schools in Florida, USA. As a ‘magnet’ state school – a school designed to attract pupils from various areas or groups, usually by specializing in one subject area – Stanton is a little different. Its mission is to prepare all students for postsecondary and college success. “Stanton prides itself on working with one of the most diverse student populations in our large urban district,” says IB Film Studies teacher, Joel Adams. “We see this diversity as not only something to value in our classrooms but also as something to guide our curriculum and extracurricular activities.” The college became an IB World School in 1983, and is said to offer one of the largest IB film programmes in the world, with over 100 students in some stage of assessment. “This year we held a student-organized arts festival that drew together all subject areas for a week-long experience in film history, printmaking, and theatrical performances,” says Joel. “After the festival, these same students took their skills and creations on the road to share with younger, disadvantaged students around the city – highlighting the importance and life-changing aspects of artistic creation.” The school is looking to expand its IB offerings and, this school year, over a dozen faculty members participated in the Approaches To Learning (ATL) pilot project, offering subject-specific feedback and sample lessons in every IB Diploma Programme subject. Joel says this is a project that resonates closely with the school’s beliefs. “The Stanton community is dedicated to many of the ATL project’s key concepts, including student collaboration, student-led classrooms, critical thinking and the promotion of digital citizenship.” IB Theater and IB Film students in New York

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news IB officials and Southland students demonstrate the Learner Profile


A personal story of engagement This month’s Global Engage story comes from student Maryam Al-Ammari, Secretary General, Online Model United Nations (OMUN). Inspired by a trip to Amman, Jordan, Maryam is determined to help women affected by war in Syria. “In late 2013, I spent four days touring Jordan, meeting with organizations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency, as well as other people who have taken it upon themselves to make a positive difference. I also had the chance to interact directly with women affected by a war I had only read about before, and understand how I could help. “Along the way, I took inspiration from a centre for Syrian relief in the Shmaisani area of Amman. Here women cook, crochet and sew with the intention of selling what they produce. “I am working with my sister Alya to launch Maharat, a programme to teach Syrian women sewing skills so they can earn an income. The programme will be open to beginners and each of the participants can continue using the centre even after the course is finished. “We hope to launch in early 2014, but any ideas or support are welcome and much appreciated.” To find out how the Maharat project is progressing, email

In brief Japan devises new dual-language IB Diploma Programme The IB has approved plans created by the Japanese Ministry of Education, 6 IBWorld

Pamoja Education

How the IB community engages with global issues through inquiry, action, and critical reflection. Find resources and share your school’s story at

Online courses are central to the IB’s access agenda

Opening access to the IB Admissions to online Diploma Programme courses rise as more learners seek the benefits of the IB curriculum through global access agenda initiatives Two IB initiatives – the Open World Schools pilot and the offering of IB Diploma Programme courses online – are expanding access to an IB education to more and more students all over the globe. The Open World Schools pilot enables students aged between 16 and 19 who are not enrolled at IB World Schools to study the IB Diploma Programme online via a ‘link’ school that’s affiliated with an IB World School. So far, seven IB World Schools are extending their expertise and leadership to ‘link’ schools through the pilot. Its growth is an indicator that access to the IB is in demand among students who do not have convenient or easy access to a bricks-and-mortar IB World School. Students at IB World Schools have the opportunity to enroll in IB Diploma Programme courses online, providing enrichment and a choice of 16 subjects. More than 1,400 students have enrolled in the online programme for the 2013-14 academic year. Pamoja Education, which works with the IB to offer IB Diploma Programme courses online, expects student numbers to rise further when admissions open for courses starting in September 2014.

Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to develop and adopt a Japanese Dual Language IB Diploma Programme. This will involve a portion of the curriculum being taught in Japanese, helping to improve students’ access to the IB Diploma Programme, as the country often suffers from a shortage of teachers who are qualified to teach

“The online courses are delivered with the same student-centred, collaborative, enquiry-based principles as IB face-to-face courses,” says Pamoja Education Principal Edward Lawless. IB Chief Academic Officer Judith Fabian adds: “Offering online courses is a central part of the IB’s vision of being a truly global organization. They help us to reach students who haven’t previously been able to be part of our IB World community.” All online IB Diploma Programme courses use the ‘flipped classroom’ model. They give full access to course content and flexibility within structured weekly lessons, and put students at the centre of the learning process. Their focus on independent learning and the ability to develop self-management skills are part of what makes online learning particularly beneficial to those preparing for higher education. “The online mathematics HL course has prepared me for university in ways that a traditional course cannot,” says María, an IB Diploma Programme alumna now studying at Cambridge University. For more information about these courses, visit:

in English. It is expected that a significant number of Japanese secondary schools will be authorized as IB World Schools by 2015. “This cooperation allows the IB to be an integral part of Japan’s plans to develop internationally minded students that will attain a globally accepted qualification,” commented Ian Chambers, Director of IB Asia


IB students shine at Tedx Auckland youth conference

Andy Vasily PYP PE teacher at Nanjing International School, China

How did you get to where you are now? I graduated from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. My girlfriend at the time (now wife) was offered an opportunity to work in Japan. I decided to go too, with the intention of returning to Canada to work. However, one thing led to another, and we ended up working at the Hiroshima International School. Japan was great and we stayed 10 years, but have since worked in Azerbaijan and Cambodia, and now in China.

Diploma Programme students enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share their plans to establish film-making and computer-programming businesses “When you have a goal, nothing gets in your way,” says a determined Elspeth Carroll, from Kristin School in Albany, New Zealand. In late 2013, Elspeth and fellow student Christian Silver (pictured below) were challenged to give a once-in-a-lifetime 18-minute presentation at the TedxYouth conference in Auckland. Both students were invited to speak separately about the work they are doing to follow their dreams and change the world. In Elspeth’s case, it was about seeking out and embracing opportunities to further her filmmaking career. “I have set myself a goal to become a renowned film producer,” she says. Elspeth is well on her way already after setting up her own company, Fluffy Socks Films, in 2011. As an aspiring computer programmer, Christian is on a mission to make programming more accessible to young people. He believes that the drastic decline in participation in ICT and programming courses worldwide has been caused by education, which also has the potential to inspire people to take up the skills. “I decided

What are your main teaching challenges? I interpret my biggest challenge as being an opportunity, really. I feel I have a good grasp of the PYP, but I must stay motivated to deepen my practice. In a sense, the challenge is to take the initiative in setting professional growth goals, connecting with others who can help me reach them, and ensuring these goals result in enhanced learning of my students. How do your inspire and challenge students? I ensure they feel valued. Getting to know all of my 275 students is tough, but a necessity if I am to truly connect with them and motivate them to be their best. In terms of skills and concept development, students are never compared to one another in my programme. I make certain each student has their own unique learning journey and that they have as much opportunity as possible to reflect on this.

that I wanted to do something about this myself. I thought: computers aren’t that hard, but they seem hard to some people.” “What we’ve got to do is take that perceived complexity and decode it into a humanunderstandable language, so that people can see it for its simplicity, and its beauty,” he says. Christian has set up Decode, an experimental workshop and web-based hub that enables passionate young developers, of all skill levels, to connect, share and learn with others. The initiative has been a huge success so far and Christian says he has quickly seen passionate programmers begin to develop. “You could see that people were quite good at this and were interested in going into these areas but they just hadn’t had the means to do it before.” Elspeth and Christian are already making names for themselves but say their success is the result of old-fashioned hard work. “Everyone is interested in something and when you find what it is for you, don’t let anything stop you from creating, doing or fulfilling that interest,” advises Elspeth.

What’s the best part of your job? I have wonderful students. They are tuned-in, dedicated learners that make my job the best. But this wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t surrounded by such an excellent team of PYP teachers. The team is very supportive of all its members, teachers and students alike.

What would you like to achieve in the future? I am constantly advocating the fact that PE is a critical part of a school’s curriculum. I have documented my experiences online at and hope to share this message with teachers worldwide.

Pacific (pictured). “The IB and MEXT share a common goal of developing inquiring and caring young people who will contribute to society.” IB adopts QIG marking method From May 2014, examiners will be able to mark a number of scripts electronically by Question Item Group (QIG), allowing them to focus

Kristin School, New Zealand

What was your biggest teaching disaster? We’ve all had experiences where we think we have a great lesson planned, only for things to unravel. The potential for disaster is always there, but remaining open-minded and having foresight will minimize mistakes.

on areas of particular expertise. “QIGing, as we call it, will enable examiners to focus on and develop a very good understanding of one part of the marking scheme very quickly,” explains David Homer, Chair of the IB Diploma Programme Examining Board. “They will be able to apply the marking rules consistently before moving on to other sections.”

IB students took centre stage at TedxYouth@Auckland

New name for French MYP The French name for the MYP was changed on 1 January to better reflect the educational pathways undertaken by most MYP students. The IB collaborated with members of the Francophone IB community, including la Société des écoles du monde du BI du Québec et de la francophonie (SÉBIQ), to devise the

new name. The programme is now known in French as le Programme d’éducation intermédiaire de l’IB (PEI). Resources and documents that feature the old name will be gradually refreshed with the new one. Look out for news of the revised materials via the online newsletters and on the Online Curriculum Centre ( IBWorld 7

Congratulations, IB Educators and MYP School Leaders! Thanks to all the dedicated IB Educators and School Leaders involved in piloting the enhanced and enriched Middle Years Programme, an exciting, innovative learning framework for students aged 11-16

Scheduled to launch September 2014! Learn more at

An explicit concept-driven curriculum to encourage teaching and learning for understanding.

‘Global contexts’ through which students engage with globally significant issues and ideas.

Skills-building ‘approaches to learning’ for communication, research, self-management, collaboration and critical thinking.

A community project to demonstrate student learning.

Optional eAssessments—coming in 2015-2016—that can lead to the IB MYP certificate.

Closer alignment with the Primary Years Programme, the Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Certificate.

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Selected materials for forward-thinking educators

World Affairs in Foreign Films: Getting the Global Picture (McFarland & Company)

Exploring 13 international award-winning films, this book by Roberta Seret invites educators to take an interdisciplinary approach to analysing movies. With a chapter for each film – which range from harrowing Hotel Rwanda to emotional March of the Penguins – the book provides questions and activities that help students get to grips with the historical, social and cultural points raised. The book also explores related works of media and literature, as well as highlighting civic issues that are thrown into sharp relief by the films. Blackfish (Manny O Productions)

Focusing on Tilikum, a killer whale in Canada, Blackfish explores the lives of these mammals as they are captured in the wild and taken to live in aquariums. An eyeopening take on the morality of keeping animals in captivity.

The New Public (Wonderful 6)

This charming documentary by Jyllian Gunther follows the struggles of first-time principal James O’Brien as he opens a new public school in a Brooklyn, New York City, district where a third of residents live below the poverty line. It’s an inspiring look at how one school team tackled the challenges of education in inner cities. The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners

for integrating the global awareness theme into everyday lessons, as well as planning special events.

Slader (

Quick Key (free from iTunes)

Teacher Walter O Duncan IV used short daily multiple-choice tests to monitor his students’ learning, but found recording their grades to be a chore. So he developed the Quick Key app, which scans and logs test papers and even enables you to analyse students’ results and progress. A simple app that revolutionizes grading of formative tests.


While there are plenty of guides to incorporating global awareness into learning for high-school students, teachers need to take a different approach to explaining this tricky concept to young learners. The awardwinning authors of this book share their own experiences and case studies from around the world in this comprehensive guide, which features fresh ideas

Other languages are expected to be available soon.

Cat Spanish (free from iTunes)

Learning Spanish by looking at cat pictures sounds like it’s too good to be true, but this app from CatAcademy does just that. Based on Japanese research that found a positive link between kawaii – ‘cuteness’ – and improved cognitive function, this is a quick and fun way to pick up Spanish phrases.

Slader is a student-led community, where users can post subject-specific questions and get help with assignments from their peers, online video tutorials and expert explanations. Although based around the USA’s high-school curriculum, with a focus on mathematics and science, many of the tutorials and concepts are applicable to students from all countries. Bitstrips for schools (bitstripsfor

More than a million students and teachers worldwide are using the education version of Bitstrips, a popular comiccreation app. Sign up and you and your students can create comics online that convey important messages about academic subjects, civic responsibility and social values.

Canadian schools support typhoon relief fund When typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, no one could have predicted the damage that would follow. More than 11 million people have been affected so far, with over half a million homes destroyed, hundreds of schools damaged and the wellbeing of millions of children put at risk. On hearing the news, many IB World Schools have rushed to raise funds and provide relief for the victims. In Canada, the government has promised to match any funds raised, doubling the donations. At Branksome Hall’s Junior School in Toronto, Canada, students collectively raised C$487.57 by making and selling Rainbow Loom bracelets, cashing in bottles, doing

chores for family and neighbours, and raiding piggy banks. “I have experienced two major floods in my home: I live right by Lake Ontario,” says Samantha, a grade five student and fundraiser organizer. “Since I am too far away to help in person, I knew fundraising was the best chance for me to help the victims.” On the other side of the country, grade one students at Aspengrove School, Lantzville, (pictured), made crafts to sell at the school’s Christmas concert and, with the help of their grade four ‘big buddies’, made festive decorations over several weeks. The students were thrilled to be able to donate C$500 to the Philippines relief effort.

David Hutchison, AGS Media

National government promises to match funds raised by IB World Schools striving to help victims of natural disaster on the other side of the globe

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cover story



Razia Jan has won over hearts and minds and overcome security threats to give hundreds of Afghan girls the opportunity to determine their own path in life


hen a girl marries in Afghanistan, she disappears. She loses her voice and her freedom, because her husband believes his wife is his property and that no one should touch it or see it.” For Razia Jan, the tremendous toll taken on the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan during the period of Taliban rule was devastating to see. She had enjoyed a Catholic education in her home country and then moved to the USA in the 1970s to pursue higher education, eventually setting up her own tailoring business. Other Afghan girls weren’t so lucky: while the Taliban was in power between 1996 and 2001, most girls’ schools closed and female enrolment in education dropped from 32 per cent to just 6.4 per cent. Inspired by the tragic events of 11 September 2001 – which also prompted her to collect 30,000 pairs of shoes for Afghan children – she returned to her homeland determined to make a difference. The result is the Zabuli Education Center, a private school for girls in Deh’Subz, a district of the country’s capital,

10 IBWorld

Kabul. All classes from kindergarten to age 17 are free, paid for entirely by donations through Jan’s charity, Razia’s Ray of Hope. “When I was growing up, we had great freedom: women could do everything,” says Jan. “We could have an education, and noone told us to wear the burqa: we were free. I want girls now to have these opportunities.” Freeing minds The secret to the Zabuli Education Center’s success – it has grown from having 110 students to more than 400 in six years – is the local community’s hard-earned support. “It was difficult at first to free people’s minds and make them feel positively about girls’ education,” says Jan. “But families now appreciate their daughters and understand the value of the education we’re giving them, and are eager for their youngest children to start lessons as soon as possible. “Students and their parents don’t take this opportunity for granted, unlike in countries such as the US or the UK where everyone gets a great education. Schooling isn’t a birth right here, as it is elsewhere in the world.” Support from the local community is

Karen Wong

Jan was nominated for the CNN Hero award in 2012 in recognition of her support of girls’ rights

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cover story

Shaping futures Jan works tirelessly to improve the standard of teaching offered to her students. She has added a second floor to the building, along with science and computer labs, an art room, and a small playground with bicycles and a ping-pong table. Core subjects include daily English lessons, as well as religion, mathematics and classes in Dari and Pashto, the two official languages of Afghanistan. Even more invaluable than the knowledge imparted by the teachers is the sense of worth and self-respect that is instilled in the girls – and shared by their parents. “The girls are making a place for themselves in society. I think they can now say ‘no’ to a lot of things, things that were previously forced upon them by their families,” says Jan. “They will fight for their freedom: for the right to be who they want to be, to marry when and who they want to.” The legal age for marriage in Afghanistan is 15 years old, but girls as young as 12 are forced to marry by their families – sometimes to men up to 50 years their senior – particularly in times of economic difficulty, with reports of girls’ dowries being used to pay for basic essentials such as food. With Jan’s support, some students have been able to negotiate betrothals that allow a few more years of learning. “This means the girls can finish 12th grade. By the time they leave school, they’ll be 18 years old, which is a more appropriate age to get married.” Her students are fortunate; a 2010 study by UNICEF reported that 46 per cent of Afghan girls marry below the age of 18. “My hope is that these girls’ husbands 12 IBWorld

Karen Wong

vital for keeping the school open and the girls safe. Girls elsewhere in Afghanistan, especially in rural areas, often risk their lives just to travel to school. In 2012, the UN identified 167 separate incidents that affected education, nearly half of which were attributed to armed groups, as well as 10 verified cases of schools being used for military purposes. “We are very lucky that there are seven villages here,” says Jan. “The community is very protective of the school. A shopkeeper once told me: ‘If anybody comes here, they have to come through our chests first before they enter your school.’” The school employs a number of protective measures, but Jan is fully aware of the threats posed to her students and staff. “The day our school opened, 23 March 2008, around 100 students were killed by a hand-grenade attack on a school on the other side of the city. “We have a guard on site during the day, and two at night. They check the classrooms are secure, and the teachers check the water from our well is safe for the girls to drink. I give thanks every day that we are safe.”

“The girls are making a place for themselves in society.They can now say ‘ no’ to things that were once forced upon them”

will allow them to attend further training in the community – I’m aiming to set up two-year teacher training and nursing courses in the future – so they can become truly independent,” says Jan. “I’m also hoping that the computer skills we teach the girls will mean that, if they are unable to marry and must stay at home with their families, they have the option of using these skills to do home-based computer work, and earn an income for themselves.” Small step, big difference In a country with one of the world’s highest proportion of school-age children in the world – an estimated one fifth of

“Education is a ray of hope”


Knowledge is vital to ending cycles of violence and poverty, yet education is often overlooked in times of emergency. Dr Lori Heninger, Director of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), explains how her organization is working to change that “Education brings hope in times of crisis. People in crisis situations have told us time and time again that education is what they want,” says Heninger. Hope is exactly what the INEE’s 10,000plus members bring to residents affected by conflict or natural disaster in the 170 countries where the organization works. “A woman in the Philippines, whose life had been turned upside down by typhoon Haiyan, told me: ‘When you are in an emergency, all you do is wait. Education provides a ray of hope.’” Following in her mother’s footsteps – the first in her generation to graduate from

“These aren’t ongoing emergency situations: these people have resettled in neighbouring countries, and are unable to move on elsewhere or return home.” While children in poor, conflict-affected countries account for 42 per cent of all those who are out of school, the UN Global Education First Initiative reports that just 2 per cent of humanitarian aid is spent on education. “If a country is recovering from conflict or a natural disaster, what you need is an educated workforce,” argues Heninger. “And there needs to be economic possibilities – jobs – for them after they’ve finished school. It’s critical for kids to have

“Education is central to crisis recovery, but often isn’t part of the humanitarian agenda”

Knowledge and skills learned by girls at the Zabuli Education Center will help shape the future of Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s population is aged between 7 and 12 – and literacy rates for young women aged 15 to 24 are far behind those for young men – at 18 per cent and 50 per cent respectively – Jan knows her work is a drop in the ocean. “I’m working with a very small group of girls, but I am giving them the best of everything that I can,” she says. “Last year a visitor asked one of the girls, a four-year-old, what she’d like to be. ‘An engineer!’ she said. The man asked her if she knew what an engineer was. ‘You wait, when I grow up and become an engineer I will come back and tell you what it is,’ she said. “I am waiting for the day when she succeeds in achieving her dream.”

high school – Heninger was the first in her family to attend university. “Through my own experience, and by visiting refugee camps across the world, I’ve seen first-hand how vital education is for helping people to learn, change and grow.” The INEE was founded in 2000 to improve access to education for people affected by emergencies, crises and chronic instability. “Our main aims are to make sure that schools are safe, that education systems are conflict-sensitive, and that they are also prepared for disasters,” explains Heninger. “Members determine where and how to take action. The tools they create and share – together with our close-knit network – mean that everyone can get to work straight away in times of crisis.” But, says Heninger, much of the INEE’s work takes place in areas that aren’t experiencing critical emergencies. “Incredibly, the average length of the refugee displacement is 17 years, while the average length of conflict in less-developed countries is 12 years,” she explains.

access to education, but if they are frustrated by a lack of employment, then people are going to lose hope.” A robust, culturally sensitive education system is also vital for successful refugee integration and return programmes. “Darfurian refugees in Chad, for example, have been taught the Sudanese curriculum,” says Heninger. “But because there is little chance of these families being able to return home, from now on the children will be taught the Chadian curriculum instead.” Although Heninger hopes the INEE won’t be needed for long, she’s realistic about the persistent obstacles to education. “The challenges we face will only grow,” she says. “Climate change means extreme weather events will become more frequent and devastating, unless they are prepared for. Sadly, conflicts won’t go away either. If we don’t turn our attention to children in emergency situations, we have little hope of achieving UNESCO’s Education for All goals.” To join the INEE or learn more about its work, visit

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the next 45 years assessment


biggest test of all

Assessment methods are in danger of leaving students unprepared for life after school. Cathryn Newbery asks: how must they change, and what are educators doing about it?

China Daily/Reuters/Corbis


tandardized testing has been heavily criticized in recent years: for failing to give educators and parents an accurate indication of students’ progress, for restricting teaching to tested content, and for causing extreme stress. Until now these accusations have been accompanied by few practical suggestions for fixing what has become widely regarded as a broken system. But new grassroots pressure from teachers, as well as top-down initiatives from national and international education systems, might be about to change all that. Technology is enabling the development of next-generation assessments that eschew the testing of rote learning and instead focus on measuring students’ higher cognitive skills, such as the ability to evaluate and analyse information. “To create assessments that beneficially influence classroom instruction, you have to have instruction in your vision from the very genesis,” says Dr W James Popham, professor emeritus at the University of California Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. “Whatever is tested is more influential than anything else in the nature of instruction,” says Popham. “If you conduct pedestrian tests rather than those that tap higher-level cognitive skills, then the quality of education will be reduced. “In recent years we have had really bad things happening as a consequence of high-stakes testing,” he says of the US high-school system, attributing these problems to the way that the performance

evaluation of schools, districts and states was based on assessment results. “We had curricular reductionism, teaching just the topics on the tests; excessive test preparation, with classes focused day after day on sample items; and flat-out instances of teachers and administrators cheating.” All this adds up to teaching and learning that may not be adequately preparing students for higher education and the real, working world. Feeling the pressure The adverse affects of high-stakes tests are nowhere more evident than in Asia’s intense examination systems. In Vietnam, where thousands of students sit a career-determining annual university entrance exam, the Hanoi National University of Education found that only 3.2 per cent of students interviewed said they were “very happy and pleased” about their lives. A similar fate afflicts students in South Korea, where suicide is the second mostcommon cause of death for young people aged between 10 and 19 years old. There is even a special term – Jaesusaeng – for Korean high-school students who put their lives on hold to re-study and re-take the day-long College Scholastic Ability Test. Pressure on students in China to succeed in the ruthless gaokao (university entrance exam) has intensified to such an extent that they are reportedly being administered amino acids intravenously to improve their performance. “Traditional forms of summative

assessment Testing methods have stuggled to reflect curricula

Time for change China isn’t the only national education system that’s planning to modify its assessment structure: the USA’s new Common Core curriculum for students aged between 5 and 18 has the potential to inspire radical changes to testing methods. “The push is to create higher cognitive demands in the tests, beyond traditional multiple-choice and short-answer items,” says Popham, who warns that change is unlikely in the short term. “But there are forces in the States that could spark changes,” he continues. “Major incentives from the federal government have altered teacher evaluation methods in a way that could make an enormous difference to how we test students. I’m certainly more optimistic about the potential for positive changes now than just five or six years ago.” Using testing to diagnose problems with teaching and learning isn’t unique to the USA. Many national education systems benchmark their progress by taking part in international assessment studies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). “Assessment in general benefits everyone, because that’s the only way you know if you’re meeeting your goals and are making progress,” says Dr Ina Mullis, Co-Executive Director of the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. “International assessment gives you a whole new global perspective on your entire system. You may find you are meeting your goals, but they are less difficult to achieve than other countries’ aims.” Systems therefore need to be careful that striving for success in such studies does not limit teaching to the facts and figures that are expected to appear on test papers, at the expense of lifelong knowledge. 16 IBWorld


assessment – multiple-choice or shortanswer questions, for example – do not support deep learning,” says Judith Fabian, Chief Academic Officer at the IB. “They help students gain qualifications and to meet certain national education standards, but not to gain lasting knowledge and understanding.” Education providers are slowly waking up to this fact. The South Korean government plans to introduce test-free semesters to all middle schools by 2016 to give students a break from rote learning. China is taking small steps to reform the gaokao and ease pressure on students, including holding a separate English exam that can be re-taken if necessary.

“ The aim of the new MYP eAssessments is to measure enduring understanding that is meaningful to everyday life, not superficial knowledge”

concept-based assessments possible. “We’re not content with offering the same type of assessments on-screen as can be done with pen and paper,” says Adams. “Our on-screen assessments are full of rich media – such as video and audio clips – and encourage candidates to make full use of electronic tools to construct their answers. It’s a whole new way of doing things.” And because the tests are conducted onscreen, rather than online, and can be taken on any device – even students’ own tablets – schools that don’t have endless digital resources can still participate. Just the beginning The eAssessments are undergoing a number of trials before their full launch in 2016. “The results from the initial pilot assessments are very encouraging,” says Fabian. “Teachers are excited about the methods and results, and the students are enjoying the assessments.” For now, they will be available as an option to all MYP schools that feel it is appropriate for their students to sit the tests and gain a

Juice Images/Alamy

Game-changing technology The IB is revolutionizing its assessment methods with the goal of improving the quality of teaching and student learning. From 2016, MYP students will be able to take part in optional eAssessments that will test their understanding of concepts through on-screen tests. “The MYP has always strongly encouraged concept-based learning,” says Fabian. “The new assessments make this more explicit: teaching and learning will be more meaningful and relevant, so students will be able to transfer understanding between disciplines, and on to daily life. The whole aim is to measure their enduring understanding, not superficial knowledge.” Whereas ‘teaching to the test’ is a criticism of traditional assessment methods, “teachers that want to focus their teaching on the MYP eAssessment will actually become better teachers,” explains Carolyn Adams, Chief Assessment Officer at the IB. “They will have to focus their teaching on helping students to understand the programme’s concepts, and how to relate these ideas across disciplines.” Unlike the IB Diploma Programme, the MYP doesn’t have a prescribed content domain: teachers are free to teach the programme’s concepts using whatever content they like. “This has made the design of these assessments really challenging,” says Adams. “The questions are entirely conceptbased. The tests themselves contain the information students need to apply the concepts and answer the questions.” “This means that students won’t be learning or memorizing content,” says Fabian. “Students will have to work out how to apply their learning on the day. This should make the responses more authentic – more similar to behaviour they’d normally exhibit in the classroom – and therefore give a more valid picture of their progress.” Technological advances make the new

MYP will pioneer IB eAssessments

Timeline for change MARCH 2014

Feedback from 2013 trials to be released

MAY 2015

Live pilot begins with five subjects, including Biology and History

NOV 2015

Last old-style moderation of MYP students’ work


First full session of optional MYP eAssessments

formal qualification at age 16. “We expect uptake to be strong, particularly in countries where national education systems emphasize external summative assessment,” says Fabian. In time, the IB plans to roll out these new-style assessments to students of the Diploma Programme. “We’re in the second decade of the 21st century: it’s not appropriate for our students to be working with pen and paper,” says Adams. Jutta Rüdiger, who has been the IB Diploma Programme coordinator at Nørre Gymnasium in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the past nine years, welcomes the potential changes that the MYP eAssessments could inspire in the IB Diploma Programme. “A more concept-oriented approach is desirable in all subjects,” she says. “Our world can only be properly understood in concepts, not through details alone.You can only act globally if you can see the big picture. “It is a challenge to create a form of assessment that accurately reflects a student’s knowledge and ability,” says Rüdiger. “A broad spectrum of formats is key; the more varied the types of assessment, the more adequately the exams will reflect a student’s full potential.” David Homer, who has been an IB Diploma Programme examiner for more than 10 years and is the Chair of the Examining Board and the Chief Examiner for Physics, is also excited about the potential of the eAssessments. “They represent a sea change in electronic assessment,” he says. “We already explore conceptual understanding in Diploma Programme exam papers, but electronic tests will allow us to expand this even further.” “We must continue to explore what technology can offer, so our examinations offer increased validity and reliability of assessment. The MYP experience will teach all of us – students, teachers and examiners – what is and isn’t possible in the realm of next-generation assessments.” Assessment is at a critical turning point. Methods must change to inspire better teaching and learning in classrooms across the world. Leading educational systems are already pioneering new exams that redefine the limits of testable knowledge, and take advantage of the new opportunities created by technological developments that, until now, have not been used to their full potential. It is time for other governments and educators to follow their trail-blazing example. IBWorld 19

the nextof science 45learning years

SWITCH ON BRAINS WITH SCIENCE Educational neuroscientist Bruno della Chiesa tells Grace Lewis why learning is the key to igniting students’ brains

Brain plasticity Scientific consensus is unanimous that the brain is a very powerful lifelong learning device. We now know that our brain has the ability to change and adapt way beyond childhood, into adult life. This is great news for us all, says della Chiesa, and we should make the most of it by taking into account what we know about the ‘sensitive periods’ – the best age or ‘window 20 IBWorld

of opportunity’ to learn something specific – when designing curricula and timelines, especially at pre- and primary-school level. “We should also make sure that ‘secondchance schools’ are not only available, but are welcoming,” he says, recognizing that the conditions offered to students who wish to resume interrupted learning pathways vary greatly from one country to another. “People who drop out in their teens, for instance, should be able to go back to school, at any age, and experience the best possible conditions.”

activated when humans begin to learn: in other words, our brains love to learn. Fear, according to della Chiesa, is the worst enemy of understanding. The typical learning environment often presents plenty of reasons for children to be fearful, including bullies, teachers and exam pressure. “Schools in Finland have been leading the way in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies for a number of different reasons; one of them is that students are not assessed before the age of 12 or 13. They don’t experience the fear of failing until they are mature enough to handle it.”

Emotion and the brain “There is nothing better than having the brain consciously experience pleasure through understanding,” della Chiesa says. Advanced brainmapping technologies enable us to see that the reward area of the brain is “It’s a miracle that curiosity in young human beings survives school.” Albert Einstein

Illustration: Paul Frost


euroscience – the scientific study of the nervous system – has been around for decades, but it is only now that we are making the link between its findings and education. European linguist and Harvard professor Bruno della Chiesa is championing the link between the two fields, and believes advances in brain imaging technologies are the reason for this sudden shift in focus. “We’ve known for a long time that the make-up of the brain has a profound influence on how we learn, but now we have scientific proof to show how and why this makes a huge difference to the way we teach,” he says. He stresses that neuroscience is still in its infancy, and while the findings may offer great insight into how our children acquire knowledge, “it cannot, and should not, try to offer solutions.” “Being acquainted with neuroscience can have great consequences for the perceptions of educators – teachers, researchers, policymakers and parents – and representations of learning and teaching,” he says. Understanding neuroscience and acting on the findings requires a sense of ownership and creativity, della Chiesa advises: “each teacher will benefit from such knowledge in his or her own way.” The first step is to understand the aspects that are likely to have the greatest impact on education policy.

“Understanding and learning is an intense pleasure for the human brain, particularly in children.” Bruno della Chiesa

The Harvard professor says this would be his first policy if he were in a position to redesign a school curriculum, and then he would re-evaluate the teacher’s role in the classroom. “I believe the teacher should make the learning environment comfortable and safe for his or her students. This will enhance their understanding and make them excited about the world” (find out more about creative classrooms on page 22). “The brain is never non-learning” Neuroscience’s most direct impact on education has been in tackling learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyscalculia – a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. “We now have key research teams who have developed methods to identify children at risk of dyslexia, before the age of one,” says della Chiesa. “If you can identify a child at risk of dyslexia or dyscalculia, you can begin to develop methods to combat the issues and to improve the child’s learning capacity.” Neuroscience allows educators to become more proactive in their teaching approaches, giving them the ability (among others) to recognize potential problems at a much earlier stage in a child’s development. Della Chiesa believes this is really promising for the future of education policy. “There’s no such thing as a non-learning brain; a brain incapable of learning,” he says. “Education should give everybody a chance to become, as Goethe says, who they are.” The field of neuroscience is still in its infancy but is already producing exciting results that can inspire education policymakers. Although such research is not immediately ‘applicable’ to today’s classroom, della Chiesa is excited about neuroscientists and educators coming together to enhance student learning.


THE BRAIN & THE IB: A WORKING RELATIONSHIP Bruno della Chiesa has dedicated the last 15 years to understanding how the brain learns, especially new languages. But it wasn’t until his daughter began studying IB programmes in the UK and he was invited to talk at the 2013 IBAEM Regional Conference that he really understood the great affinity that neuroscience has with the IB’s commitments. He believes that the IB philosopy and neuroscience intersect in four key ways:


Learning other languages

Because learning a language is a uniquely human ability, language acquisition is an important topic in neuroscience, and one that the IB puts at the heart of its curricula. “I admire the IB because educating children in multiple languages should be a priority,” says della Chiesa. “Learning a second language is of tremendous importance, as it changes the way the individual perceives and analyses the world. It unlocks an individual’s ability to develop cultural (and therefore self) awareness.”


Lifelong learning

The brain’s material make-up, or plasticity, indicates its ability to continue to learn long into old age. The IB’s Learner Profile encourages the qualities of an internationally minded, lifelong learner. “It is excellent that the IB is explicitly promoting lifelong learning,” says della Chiesa. “Provided your brain is healthy, you can learn anything at any age – even another language. Of course, you do not learn the same way if you are 50 or 60, or if you are five or six, but the structure of the IB’s PYP, MYP, Diploma Programme and the IBCC seem to make the most of those lifelong learning attributes.”


Global awareness

Spread across 146 countries, with more than one million students, the true international-mindedness of the IB is recognized at every stage of study. Every day children from different nationalities are coming together to share knowledge. “It seems to me that in today’s world, developing such a global awareness is

more important than ever,” says della Chiesa. “And what we understand about neuroscience and language learning is at the heart of developing that global awareness” “The IB provides a space for students to get acquainted with other cultures and develop a multicultural awareness, which some might not have the benefit of at home,” he says.

Using the fabulous potential of the human brain


“This is where a humanistic education, based among other elements on strong and diverse language learning, is linked to what neuroscience tells us about our brains,” says della Chiesa. The IB is learning to adapt to developments in science and technology by reviewing its programmes annually and embracing technological advances in the classroom. “The more teachers know about the ‘learning brain’, the deeper they will be able to reflect on the complexity of learning processes, helping them to better understand their students’ learning.”

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Creative classrooms Find out how schools around the world are reconfiguring their environments to engage students and improve learning

INTERIOR DESIGN An immersive experience David Heath, an IB Diploma Programme history teacher at the Bavarian International School, near Munich in Germany, has turned his whole classroom into a learning experience. “I focus on ensuring my students feel history and not just articulate it,” he says. “The flags (pictured below) are a key way of achieving

this. The onslaught of colour in my classroom creates an immediate reaction from students. The seams and stitches of such old flags add an extra dimension to my class, which gives students a subconscious awareness of the traditions and history that went into making such symbols.” Do you have a passion or hobby that you could use to create an innovative learning space for your class?

“I focus on ensuring my students feel history and not just articulate it” negative connotations? Consider each age group, and how they Studies have shown that the choice of colour respond to colours: younger children, for instance, prefer bright warm colours. used in school buildings can have a massive The use of each space should be reflected impact on student behaviour. Misuse of in the colour scheme: colour can have orange and yellow undesirable effects, just inspire activity in a as spaces that are gym, while calming devoid of colour have blues are ideal for been shown to cause meditative spaces and irritation and difficulties libraries. Learn more in concentrating. about colour theory at When choosing a www.designcouncil. colour scheme, think about your school’s Use colour creatively the-impact-of-schoollocation and culture. Do learningany colours in particular to make an impact environments/. have positive or

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The chair necessities There’s so much more to school furniture than desks and chairs. Telefonplan School in Stockholm, Sweden, which opened in 2011, has put innovative physical spaces at the heart of its curriculum. There are no classrooms here, but a series of spaces that were designed by Rosan Bosh Studio to encourage students to think creatively, explore new ideas and collaborate with their classmates. The opportunity for group work is balanced with areas for reflection and private study. Every area offers the potential for students to learn through technology – whether standing up, sitting or lying down – and to pursue learning in a relaxed way.

Studiomode/Alamy;; Rosan Bosch Studio

Arcaid Images/Alamy

Colourful spaces

EXPERIMENTING WITH SPACE Break with tradition There is plenty of untapped space available beyond the traditional classroom: schools all over the world are experimenting with spaces by using boats, buses, planes, and even caves to educate students. Non-profit organization Shidhulai created a ‘floating school’ to educate students in rural Bangladesh during the monsoon season. Dongzhong, an elementary school in Guizhou, China, inhabited a cave to teach its 186 primary school students; while Rosendale Primary School in London, UK, turned a double-decker bus into a library (below). Attractive, flexible learning spaces have positive effects on students’ learning progression, as well as providing additional space to accommodate growing classes.

Unusual spaces at Telefonplan School

Get outside Hive mentality

Halil Ibrahim Mali

Emily Smith’s fifth-grade class at Cunningham Elementary School in Texas is no ordinary schoolroom. Renamed ‘The Hive Society’, the learning space has none of the traditional classroom trappings. Low tables, vintage stools and rugs create a place where innovation can blossom. “Everything from curriculum to instruction can fall flat without the foundation of a comfortable space that sanctions critical thinking and collaboration,” says Emily. “The flourish of innovation needs room to breathe freely. The classroom needs to become that space.” Learn more on the class website:

Bilkent Erzurum Laboratory School (BELS) is one of only two schools in Turkey in which all students are required to complete the IB Diploma Programme to graduate. Once these exams are completed, students go on to study for the highly competitive Turkish national university entrance

exam – so you might say pressure is high. What better way to relieve the strain and motivate students than with an outdoor breakfast in Turkey’s picturesque Palandöken mountains? Research has long suggested that learning experiences outside the classroom have a positive impact on motivation and behaviour, so Head Counselor Halime Akyurt had the right idea inviting students to share homemade delicacies, in the school’s courtyard. Try taking one of your classes outside and see the difference in your students.

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Many people find listening to music makes even the most tedious everyday tasks more enjoyable, but research from the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training could actually sharpen the brain’s response to learning languages. In fact, the complexity involved in practising and performing music may help improve your students’ cognitive development and behaviour in the classroom. And the earlier the better, according to the report, because learning to read and play music actively enhances skill development and even improves emotional intelligence. According to the Institute of Education at

“Music improves selfreliance and social cohesion in class”

the University of London, “increasing the amount of classroom music within the curriculum can increase social cohesion in class, greater self-reliance, better social adjustment and more positive attitudes.” This is certainly true of Westerville South High School in the US, whose students have taken to rapping their maths lessons. Check out ‘Getting triggy with it’ and the ‘Calculus rhapsody’ at user/WSHSmath. If this is a bit of a stretch for your shy and retiring students, just listening to music on its own has been shown to trigger the reward area of the brain. Try a variety of tracks – from classical to popular music – and find out which ones your students respond to.

TECHNOLOGY Skype classrooms When Skype launched in 2003, no one predicted the effect it would have on global education. Today more than 66,000 teachers use the free online voice and instant-messaging service to connect classrooms across the world. By breaking down the classroom walls, students are given unprecedented access to new experiences, from the German MYP students teaching Argentinean students the local lingo, to weekly chats between a school in Texas and a specialist school in South Africa (read more in Community, p34-35). Sugata Mitra – one of our game-changers from the September 2013 45th anniversary issue – is even taking the use of Skype to a new level with his ‘granny cloud’ experiment, which connects UK grandmothers with youngsters in India to deliver teaching and life lessons. To get started with Skype, visit com to find classrooms to connect with, then strike up an online conversation.

Get a global view If you’ve ever had trouble demonstrating to a class where the international school they’ve befriended on Skype is, then a giant map might just do the trick. More and more classrooms are hiring the National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps (pictured below) to do just this. “People find the scale of these maps fascinating,” says Daniel C. Edelson, Vice President for Education, National Geographic Society. “We’ve had students count how many steps it takes to get from Beijing to Moscow and lie down to see if they can reach from the southern tip of India to the northern tip.” This hands-on experience brings geography and international-mindedness to life for students of all ages, encouraging collaboration, creativity, and peer interaction. Exploring the maps also helps to improve students’ global awareness and cultural sensitivity. Download and print your own ‘megamap’ from

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Embracing apps Ajman Academy, a new PYP candidate school in the United Arab Emirates, saw a dramatic improvement in teaching and learning when it incorporated the use of tablets into its day-to-day practices. “Our teachers are so enthused about using tablets in the classroom,” says the school’s Founding Director, Anthony Cashin. “They want to use them to engage students in learning, and explore how the use of multiple apps in one lesson can draw out student understanding and creativity, and then allow students to present their findings to their peers.” And it’s not just teachers who are

excited about the change. “Students have become extremely focused on their learning and are very proud of their output,” he says. Mary Kay Polly, ICT Coach and Gifted Ed Program Coordinator at Raha International School, Abu Dhabi, says creativity, collaboration and reflection increased ten-fold when iPads were introduced to her PYP classroom. And with access to apps such as Skitch, which allows you to take a photograph or screenshot and write directly on it, and social learning platforms like Edmondo, both the students’ and teachers’ worlds can expand beyond the classroom and traditional learning techniques.

Dan Beaupre/National Geographic; Nick Obank, Niklas Halle’n/Barcroft India/Getty Images

Musical motivation

Adrian Sherratt/Alamy



Practical learning complements classroom teaching

Caro /Alamy

Green space is at a premium in central London, UK. But in the heart of Hackney, students at Petchey Academy have joined with local volunteers to create their own kitchen garden and grow herbs and flowers in a Solardome glasshouse. The hands-on learning the students enjoy in the garden complements the school’s status as a specialist healthcare and medical sciences academy, giving students who might not have access to green spaces the chance to get their hands dirty. Learning through practical activities is a great way to create lasting knowledge, according to Priscilla Logan, an educational consultant and permaculture instructor from New Mexico, USA. She says gardening reinforces knowledge, empowers students, simplifies complex concepts, and encourages teamwork.

Bonding with bugs

Back to nature Waldkindergarten – forest kindergartens – are hugely popular in Germany; more than 1,000 have sprung up since the first one was established in 1993. They are also common in parts of Scandinavia – Sweden and Denmark in particular – and their attitudes are being adopted in the UK too, where weekly forest

schools have been established. In the morning-only waldkindergarten, children spend all their time outside, exploring the forest, playing games, discussing ideas and learning at their own pace. Studies in Germany have found that children who learn in this way are ahead of their classmates in mental, physical and social development when they start primary school.

Study butterflies and you’ll only learn about biology, right? Students who participate in study programmes led by the Monarch Teacher Network will tell you there’s so much more to discover, from environmental issues to geography, language and culture. Monarch butterflies in the USA and Canada migrate to coastal California and Mexico every autumn, before returning home in the spring: a journey that occurs over the lifespans of three to four generations of butterfly. Students are raising their own butterflies from caterpillars to adults, and releasing them into the wild. Some even visit the butterflies at their migratory grounds; the insects’ stories inspire environmental and social activities, art and language study.

“Children need to realize that you can figure things out by just fooling around”

The Tinkering School in California, USA, attracts students aged between 8 and 17 for week-long immersive summer camps, where they are given the opportunity to explore how to design and build projects such as rollercoasters. “Our goal is to ensure that they leave with a better sense of how to make things than when they arrived, and the deep internal realization that you can figure out things by fooling around,” explains founder Gever Tulley. The Tinkering School team has since founded a full-time school – Brightworks – in San Francisco, which encourages students to learn through inquiry and by connecting with people and places in the local area.

Guillermo Lopez Barrera/Alamy

Gever Tulley

Time to tinker

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“It is an enormous privilege to be entrusted with the next chapter in the IB’s history” Dr Siva Kumari, the new Director General, discusses her plans for the IB’s future and why it’s such a privilege to be part of the IB community Which of the IB’s special qualities do you admire the most? What has always attracted me to the IB is that it’s not merely about curriculum or assessment. The focus is on two larger aims: schooling in general, and the student as a whole being, from the age of 3 to 19. Our emphasis on what is pertinent at a given age is valuable, as is the understanding that teaching isn’t just about content achievement, but is about education. We are aiming to create knowledgeable individuals who can use their learning throughout life to change their world, which is notable.

Kumari joined the IB in 2009 as Regional Director of IB Asia-Pacific

Kevin Augello/New Earth Films

Do the IB’s values need to adapt to reflect the changing world we live in? The IB’s founders set out to teach students skills and knowledge that could be benchmarked internationally, which is why I think the Diploma Programme has stood the test of time. The questions we have to ask now are: what is needed for the student who is born today? What other skills do we think they will need to learn? How will their learning need to evolve in response to a world in which there is an information explosion? How will the global reach of the IB programmes continue to grow? We must understand where the IB philosophy fits best, and where it can thrive. We are working with state systems to introduce IB programmes in new settings in Japan, Ecuador, and Chicago, USA. This project will help us see where the IB might need to stretch, or where the schooling conditions might need to change. These projects mark the start of a new and exciting phase for the IB. We are taking what we know how to do very well – working with one school – and challenging ourselves to apply it to working with a whole system. IBWorld 27


If successful, we could open up access to the IB for hundreds of students. A student at a state-supported school deserves the IB just as much as the student who attends a private international school. I love that we treat those two sets of students the same way, regardless of their circumstances or the resources a school may or may not have. It is the student who is always at the centre of our attention.

How has external recognition of the value of an IB education been progressing? Getting universities and accrediting organizations such as OFQUAL and UCAS to fully understand the value of an IB student is a continuous effort. We have made huge strides in this area but one of the reasons for creating a specific senior leadership role is to focus on our ability to first conduct more research, and then focus on ensuring that the academic value of all four programmes is communicated more broadly but with some precision on where our voice will have the most impact. For instance, we have increased the ability of our IB community worldwide to connect with university admissions officers through the symposium we have held in Stanford, USA, in October 2013. This group will focus on universities, accreditation bodies worldwide, and research bodies but also on ensuring that we are able to ramp up our alumni strategy so we get better at listening to our IB graduates. At this moment, we continue to be informed by admissions counsellors that they greatly value IB students. How is the IB strengthening its leadership of international education? Our academic research programme is absolutely essential. The studies we commission through research bodies are authentic: we genuinely want to discover more about our programmes and our students. The IB’s Research Department

This year’s review will bring fresh ideas to the PYP


How does the organization need to adapt to continue to meet the needs of its stakeholders? We have a wide spectrum of schools. Each category of these schools has unique needs. Some schools take our standards to new heights, which is fantastic, and others are making huge efforts to meet those standards. The IB needs to get better at diagnosing schooling issues and supporting struggling schools. I would never want to fail those students where the IB is adopted. But we must also pay attention to the needs of our schools which are exemplars of our philosophy. We should work with them to learn and share best practices. The IB is a beautiful exchange of ideas: we as an organization know certain things, but we have the capability to gather and share best practices across the IB world and, just as importantly, to learn from our schools, too.

has done great things during the past four years. We now need to build a structure that supports the sharing and implementation of this research externally, so our organization and our schools continue to use the research results with different audiences. What role should the IB play in sharing information and best practices among members of the IB community? Research has shown that the reason teachers don’t adopt new methods isn’t because they are lazy or disinterested – they just don’t have the time. We have so much knowledge and experience, but it has not been organized responsibly so a busy teacher can

“The IB organization and the people who work with it inspire me every single day” find what they need quickly and easily. We can also play a role in digitally aggregating teaching best practices. This will be difficult, but it is important to capture these best practices so thousands of teachers all over the world can learn from each other and improve the quality of education. How will you build on the IB’s legacy ahead of the 50th anniversary in 2018? The IB has a rich, unique history, which gives me great energy and inspires my work: I’ve never worked for an organization that is as special as this. But at the same time, it gives me pause for thought: it is an enormous privilege to be entrusted with the next chapter in the IB’s history. It’s important to preserve what we have – the notions that have stood the test of time and have attracted so many wonderful people to work for the IB or to contribute to the IB – as we move into the future.

What upcoming development are you most looking forward to? I’m very excited about the new MYP eAssessments: no one else is doing anything like them. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can learn for further improvements. The IBCC, our newest programme, has an important place in the education sector. I’m keen to put this in place in more of our schools, and embed it firmly into our IB world. And I’m also looking forward to seeing the results of this year’s PYP review, which should bring fresh insight to our plans for that programme. What would you like to achieve in your first year as Director General? There is so much I want to achieve! I want to stabilize our structures, so we can focus on delivering best-in-class core capabilities. I want to make academic research a central part of our decision-making processes, and when new projects are put in place I want them to deliver great results quickly. I also want to inspire a new mindset that focuses on delighting – not just satisfying – our end users. We need to value the efforts of our IB Educator Network (IBEN). These goals will take some time to achieve, but I’m keen to get as much accomplished in my first year as possible. Just as importantly, I want to set the path for accomplishing what our schools want from us. What motivates and drives you to work so energetically? I just love my work! Educators have always fascinated me: how giving they are, the great work they do, their choice of such a noble profession, their patience. The organization, and the people who work with it and believe in the IB philosophy and laudable mission, they inspire me every day. It’s our job to make sure everyone who has chosen to work with the IB is able succeed with it. That means everything to me. IBWorld 29

IBCC in action



Making the leap from classroom to career is something all students must face one day. With the IBCC, the IB is hoping to make that transition easier for today’s young people


he current global education system is not adequately preparing students for the workforce, warns consulting company McKinsey. With 75 million young people around the world currently unemployed and just 43 per cent of employers able to find enough skilled entry-level workers, the caution serves to highlight the fact that finding the right job in the right place is tougher than ever. McKinsey’s Education for Employment reports are published at a time when countries such as Greece, Spain and South Africa are reporting that more than half of their young people are unemployed. Jobless levels of 25 per cent or more are common in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Prospects aren’t much brighter in Europe, according to the latest report, where 7.5 million young people are neither in education nor currently working. The situation is unlikely to improve unless educators and employers join together and help “map the journey” from studying to working in the real world, says Mona Mourshed, Director of Global Education Practice at McKinsey. “There is a significant lack of data to tell us how people make the move from education to employment. This is creating a huge pool of untapped talent and, at the same time, causing socio-economic

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instability across the world,” Mourshed told delegates at the 2013 IB Africa, Europe and Middle East (IBAEM) Regional Conference. Chris Mannix, the International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC) Head of Programme Development, says these are precisely the issues the IB was hoping to address when designing the IBCC. “The IBCC was developed with the workforce in mind. It teaches students academic, cognitive, practical, and personal skills, which really help to prepare them for the global jobs market,” he says. Mannix says part of the IBCC’s strategy is to foster key abilities in each of its students, which are directly linked to the types of skills employers are calling out for in today’s graduates. These include a strong work ethic, teamwork, and language and communication skills. “Whatever subjects schools choose to offer under the IBCC, we really want educators to think about the pathways available for students. Whether that’s preparing them for higher education, further education or employment, the IB’s responsibility doesn’t stop at graduation.” IB World spoke to three current IBCC students and a recent IBCC graduate, and asked them how the IB helps prepare students to take the next step.

Relle Maxwell


Fitness is just one aspect of the IBCC Sports Management course at PTIS

“THE IBCC WILL HELP ME ACHIEVE MY DREAM OF STUDYING IN AMERICA” Daniela Fernández Sánchez of Bachillerato UPAEP Santiago School in Mexico wants to work abroad when she graduates from her IBCC Engineering (Design and Manufacturing) course. She feels the IBCC has put her ahead of the pack. What skills have you already gained through your studies? The most valuable skill I have gained is working under pressure. I believe this is very useful in every kind of labour environment, especially when working to deadlines and client specifications. I have also learned to be more inquiring and not to be comfortable with the information given. You always learn much more if you do not stop asking why. How do you balance the academic and practical pressures of the IB? It can be challenging to balance both sides but you have to make compromises. I have become an expert ‘time administrator’– the less time I spend on Facebook, the better my homework will be!

The IBCC teaches transferable for Anni’s careerskills choice the global jobs was inspired bymarket a guest speaker at her school


Why did you choose to study the IBCC? I knew that I wanted my career to be in sports and the IBCC has given me several direct pathways into this area. I really want to go on to study the marketing or business aspects of sports management and there are several courses in the US and the UK that have caught my eye. What ‘real-world’ experience have you had of sports management? As part of our course, we recently went on a field trip to a sporting-retail business that manufactures clothes. Here we got to understand how a small business works, its set-up and the types of people that you’ll find working there.

Judith Baker

What advice would you give anyone looking to study the IBCC? You have to be dedicated, passionate and have an idea of a career in mind at the end of your studies.

Students know they need to prepare for work while at school

“EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY WILL HELP ME COMMUNICATE” Becky Wright and Lauren Thorp (above), IBCC students studying Health and Social Care at Dane Court Grammar School in the UK, are looking forward to working with children and young people once they have graduated.

Employers value the IBCC’s mix of practical and theoretical skills

What makes IBCC graduates attractive to employers? “I think the combination of life experience, work experience and a qualification make us ideal candidates for many universities and

employers,” says Lauren. “Within the current jobs market, it is vital to gain both qualifications and experience, and the IBCC offers opportunities that make this so much easier,” Becky says. How does the IBCC suit you? “I have tailored my pathway around my career choice and the subjects I need to go on to study at university. I’ve chosen Early Childhood Studies with Youth Studies and two extra IB DP subjects: English and Psychology,” says Lauren.

Paula Hulkkonen

Kevin Bodart (pictured far left) from Prem Tinsulanonda International School (PTIS) in Thailand will graduate from his IBCC course in Sports Management in 2014, and is already considering taking his new skills on to further education.

“I KNEW THE SKILLS WOULD BE HIGHLY TRANSFERABLE” It was the idea of gaining skills relevant to the international market that first attracted Anni Hirvonen, IBCC graduate, to a qualification in audio-visual communication at North Karelia College Outokumpu in Finland. “Media is relatively unknown as a subject in Finland, but I am keen to work abroad and I knew the skills I would learn in a media career-related programme would be highly transferable to the international stage,” she says. “Combining this with the IB curriculum, especially its focus on language learning and global connectedness, would really help me realize my ambition.” But she admits she had trouble explaining the IBCC course to her grandparents, who were more accustomed to a traditional method of teaching and assessment. “This is something we need to work on,” says Mannix. “We need to communicate the benefits of career-related study better – particularly to parents – and we are working on marketing tools and communication material to distribute to schools in 2014,” he says. Having gained her IBCC certificate in 2013, Anni is now working as a freelance camera operator, filming hockey games and music gigs. She hopes to develop her skills further in 2014 with a course in production at the University of Helsinki. Meanwhile, as the sports season is quiet, Anni is spending her time volunteering. g “I read with some elderly residents at the local nursing home,” she explains. “I’ve never really ORLD thought about REAL-W it before, but my desire to help people was inspired by IB values.”

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foreign to non-Indian students, but in time they see the patterns in the characters: the rhyme, repetition, and even the alliteration. Then open it up to the class. Put your students on the spot. This year, my Korean students have their mother-tongue class straight after the English lesson. So they whipped out their textbooks, found a poem, and gave an impromptu analysis. They were able to show their classmates how to see the sounds in the Korean characters. The students are always amazed that authors around the world use the same tools to make us feel things. And they realize we feel certain things when we hear certain sounds, regardless of the language. They learn that the meaning of a poem does not just come from the words but how they sound. We don’t have to understand Hindi to feel the rain in Varsha Rani. And we don’t have to know German to hear the singsong silliness of Max und Moritz.

Just listen to the rain

Illustration: Neil Webb.

Letting young people hear the sounds and rhythms of poetry in many languages can benefit students and teachers alike One of the reasons why I love teaching in international schools is that my classes are filled with children from all over the world who speak many different languages. I remember the first time a student asked me: “What does this word mean in English?” Although I didn’t speak the language that she was referring to, other students in the class did. An argument erupted over the correct translation. With each suggestion the girl said: “No, that’s not quite the word I was thinking of.” Yes, this was a Language A English class, but I realized the importance of bringing our students’ first languages into our classrooms. Sometimes international students find it difficult to transfer what they learn in English class to what they are learning in their mother-tongue classes and vice versa. They keep their learning compartmentalized. Students usually have been quite schooled in poetic terminology. They can find similes and rhymes. But when I ask, what is this literary device called in German? Or Hindi? Or Korean? My students will stare at me blankly, unable to give an answer. I hold multi-lingual lessons as a way of breaking down the walls between languages. When students begin to analyse poetry, they pick apart the structural elements first. Then they look for sound devices, images, and other figurative language. Students love pulling apart the puzzle of poetry not just

“We don’t have to know Hindi to feel the rain in the poem Varsha Rani” for what it says, but for how the author formulated what he or she wanted to say. Finally, we look for literal and figurative meanings. Can’t we also teach poetry analysis in English class by analysing poems in languages other than English? Students can see the stanzas or form. They can see the rhyme scheme, and if they don’t see it, they will hear it when it is read aloud. Once the students feel comfortable with analysing poems in English, I throw out some works in other languages. Children’s stories written as narrative poems are often the most accessible for young students. I choose those that my students are familiar with from their home

countries. Since I teach in Germany, I use Max und Moritz by Wilhelm Busch. German students are familiar with these stories. I ask them to briefly summarize the story’s subject and read a section aloud. Then I ask the non-German speakers to identify the rhyme scheme. The German speakers begin to pull apart the meter of the poem and explain how it contributes to the meaning. But what if you are teaching students who speak languages with unfamiliar characters, like Hindi? Our Hindi mother-tongue teacher introduced me to a poem called Varsha Rani, which uses sound devices to evoke the sensation of a rainstorm. The characters will be

The students also gain the appreciation for reading a work in its original language. They begin to understand that when you translate a work, you might lose the “sounds” of the work. If Varsha Rani was read in English, the translator may be able to recreate some of the images but the sound of the rain might be lost. The best part of having multilingual lessons is showing my students they have something to teach their classmates. They are empowered by taking the risk of sharing the beauty and wonder of their own language with us. By Kathleen Ralf, English and Humanities teacher, Frankfurt International School, Germany.

IBWorld 33


Le Bocage International School, Mauritius

Mosaic memento

When students set out to leave their mark, they did it in style – and learned a lot in the process


raduating classes often seek a way to leave a lasting impression on the schools they’re leaving behind. While most opt for a small but thoughtful gesture – a bench, or new trophy perhaps – the 2013 graduating class of Le Bocage International School (LBIS) in Mauritius raised the bar by creating a

“Embarking on this project was a huge gamble, but we’ve created a lasting gift for everyone to enjoy” large-scale mosaic of the school’s logo, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. “We wanted to demonstrate our appreciation for the school, and the incredible team spirit it has encouraged amongst our class,” says head boy and project manager Matthieu Ah-Koon. “It took a whole weekend of hard work by nearly 80 students to complete the mosaic, which now takes pride of place in the school.” “We really wanted our CAS project to eternalize the bonds that exist between us before we set off on our separate paths after completing the IB Diploma Programme,” says fellow student Yashil Sukurdeep. “It was a huge gamble: in 34 IBWorld

the beginning, we didn’t have the skills or the funds to complete the project. “Now, not only have we created a gift for the whole school, we’ve learned new masonry and pyrography skills, and pushed our organizational and teamworking skills to the limit. Working together on this project – something that will stand the test of time – has strengthened our friendship bonds and the happy school memories that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.” The mosaic has become such a central part of Le Bocage’s identity that it has become the school’s official emblem. Its design even appears on the school’s postal stamps, having been granted official approval by Mauritius Post, the island’s postal service.

Keshwyn, Matthieu,Yashil and Kelvin display their work

Wall wisdom To create a mosaic for your school, here is the LBIS five-step guide to success 1 Obtain permission before starting work, and ask the advice of your art and design teachers: they will be a great source of help 2 Choose an original design – using computer software to work on its size and colour scheme – and an appropriate location 3 Start fundraising, so you can buy the tools and materials you need 4 Get buying: depending on your project, you'll need tiles and cement, plus equipment like gloves and trowels 5 Set the date! Choose a day when most people in your year are free to help – a weekend or day during a mid-term break is perfect

Stony Point High School, Texas, USA

One small LEAP via Skype Students at Stony Point High School in the US have put internationalmindedness at the core of their school day by taking part in regular Skype chats with students at a LEAP Maths and Science School in South Africa. “We first heard about the LEAP schools through our English teacher, whose daughter is friends with a member of the school's staff,” says Stony Point student Kori Cooper. “This inspired our IB Diploma Programme senior class to partner with a LEAP school in Cape Town as part of our Creativity Action Service (CAS) studies.” LEAP schools provide students from high-need communities with a free

education centered on mathematics, science and English. Growing from a single school in 2004, there are now six LEAP schools in and around Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg. A staggering 94% of students pass their grade 12 exams, with 74% going on to higher education. “The partnership is benefiting students in both schools,” explains Kori. “We

Calling Cape Town

share and appreciate our differences in cultures and schools. We call the school early each Tuesday, often exchanging poems and songs – Taylor Swift’s are a favourite – and news about our daily lives.” The students of Stony Point are also hoping to sponsor a five-day trip for the LEAP students to go to East London in Cape Town, so they can visit schools and run workshops for the local community on subjects such as reading and social responsibility. “The whole class has formed really tight bonds with the students in South Africa,” says Kori. “It is our goal that the impact of this project remains with us long after we graduate.”

Hillel Academy, Kingston, Jamaica

A source of rejuvenation “Once you’ve committed to something, you must follow through with it.” That was the lesson that Renee Morecroft’s father taught her at an early age, and one that has inspired her to keep doing the best that she can at school and in the local community around Kingston. “Life isn’t just about books,” says Renee. “We live in societies and our actions impact others. We need to give back to society, especially if we have been fortunate in our lives.” With this in mind, Renee has undertaken a number of projects in her home town, including painting a mural on the children’s ward of a spinal rehabilitation centre. Renee’s interest in helping in hospitals was inspired by her two cousins who suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes joints and skin to become overly flexible or stretchy. “My older cousin is studying medicine, and I see how hard he works to achieve success and overcome the discomfort caused by his condition,” she says. “His achievements have inspired me to become a doctor too, so I can research genetic disorders like his.” With continued hard work, it seems highly likely that she’ll succeed. “Renee

is an excellent all-rounder,” says Heather Gray Lamm, Renee’s history and Theory of Knowledge teacher at Hillel Academy. “The IB Diploma Programme has brought out the best in her in every respect: not only academically, but also in volunteering, singing in our choir, and taking part in swimming competitions.” Renee even spent two weeks sailing around Jamaica – a prospect that many experienced sailors would fear but one that she tackled head-on and conquered. Her secret? “I have learned to manage my time,” says Renee. “On days that I had classes in lighter subjects, I did more co-curricular activities that I enjoyed. This way, my activities – including CAS ones – weren’t chores, but were a source of rejuvenation.” Renee can vouch for the benefits of CAS

H.A.E.F (Psychico College), Athens, Greece

The power of inner strength Personal issues can work on a grander scale when they inspire the wider community Visual Arts students take their inspiration from all sorts of places: friends, family, their local surroundings, dreams and other artists. For Ilektra Seferiadis from Athens, Greece, it was a chance to work through the repercussions of bullying she had experienced when she was younger – and the recent economic difficulties faced by her country – resulting in an emotive mixed-media piece entitled ‘Inner blossom’. “The sculpture features a black cage with a crimson flower in the centre, which appears to be trapped and strangled,” explains Jennifer Potter-Karoutsos, Ilektra's IB Diploma Programme Visual Arts teacher. “When Ilektra explained the significance of the piece to the school, it became clear that, at a deeper level, it was really a self-portrait of all her emotions,” says Jennifer. “She had finally found a way to express her feelings: visually, through her artwork. The fiery flower has since become an inspiration to others at the school who are struggling to overcome their own insecurities.” “I depicted the way I felt my self-esteem being suppressed by negative emotions, hurtful words and an unwelcoming society,” says Ilektra of her artwork. “The way I’d felt when I was trying to break free from my bullies back in middle school. What kept that flower from wilting? The same wonderful energy that keeps us growing and thriving every day: our inner strength.” Ilektra’s new-found confidence inspired her to enter an English oratory competition, where she won first prize for a moving speech about coming to terms with her past. “I think back to what I could have done to defend myself from that middle-school bully, or how I could have taken out my anger on a brick wall if I’d had the muscles to do so,” Ilektra said in her speech. “Now I realize one thing: inner strength, emotional strength, and strength of character are all at the base of the great pyramid.” In her speech, Ilektra also reflected on the difficulties faced by the Greek population, who have been suffering from the effects of the global economic crisis. “It may not appear like a grand deed, but the fact that we are able to wake up every morning, take a deep breath and face the challenges of the world as risk-takers proves just how much one can and will achieve by inner strength alone.” IBWorld 35

alumnus Dr Abiodun Williams uses his role to help bring about conflict resolution

Dr Abiodun Williams

In pursuit of peace The IB set this scholar and peacekeeper on a road he hopes will see an end to war Dr Abiodun Williams grew up in an environment where the value of education was constantly emphasized; but it was the IB’s simple conviction that “what binds us together is stronger than what divides us,” that helped inspire his ambitious career path and led him to become the first President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice. “Growing up, I was always surrounded by great books, which provided a window to the wider world,” Sierra Leoneborn and United States citizen Abi says. “This contributed, in no small part, to my desire to become a university professor and to work with the United Nations, an organization I had always admired.” Having served as Director of Strategic Planning for UN Secretaries-General Ban Kimoon and Kofi Annan, and spending time as Associate Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington DC, Abi says he feels very fortunate to have fulfilled his dreams. “I was inspired by my parents’ belief that with blessings come a responsibility to help others,”

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The Hague Institute

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38 IBWorld

he says. This value has stayed with Abi, influencing his work on international relations in some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones, including Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Afghanistan. Abi recognized the importance of having an international perspective from a young age and his time studying the IB Diploma Programme at Pearson College, United World College (UWC), Canada, reinforced this. He says his lasting impression of Pearson is of the profound sense of community and idealism, which was encouraged as soon as he entered the school gates. “The Diploma Programme was a rigorous and stimulating course, one that fired my imagination,” he says. It also heightened his love of English Language and Literature, which he went on to read for his

“Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world” Master of Arts degree at Edinburgh University. He later attained a doctorate in International Relations at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. In his current role with the Institute for Global Justice, Abi is continuing his life’s work in the fields of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and conflict management, and combining this with academia by conducting policy-relevant research, to facilitate knowledgesharing across the globe. He emphasizes the crucial role that education has in mitigating the risk of conflict and achieving sustainable peace, especially in

countries blighted by instability. At last year’s IB Africa, Europe and Middle East (IBAEM) Regional Conference, Abi told delegates that stemming the tide of conflict begins with the individual in a classroom, but the knowledge gained here pays dividends to groups and communities around the world. This is a subject close to Abi’s heart and is something that he has published widely on over the years, winning several awards in the process, including the Dr Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University and the Constantine E Maguire Medal from Georgetown University. “I often draw on my personal experience of UWC to sustain the belief that people from a wide variety of backgrounds can work together and live together in peace,” he says. Despite global recognition, Abi says his most memorable moment from his extensive career is meeting the late Nelson Mandela at the UN, in 2001. “At the UN that day, he exhibited his characteristic optimism that a more peaceful world was well within our grasp,” Abi explains. “This is a sentiment that has remained with me to this day and one that convinces me that the legacy of Nelson Mandela is not one we can allow to be consigned to the past, but one we must take forward in the future.” Abi believes education is the key to perpetuating this belief. “In the next 10 years, global challenges will only become more complex and daunting,” he says. “Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world.” Join Abiodun and fellow alumni in the IB alumni network, by visiting the blog at, where you can learn more about this growing community.

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IB World March 2014  

IB World Magazine, March 2014 edition

IB World March 2014  

IB World Magazine, March 2014 edition