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Graduation HERO

The Value of the IBDP in the World Today

Tim Webb
Tim Webb (12 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile

We have just completed analysing the Year 13 PCT 4 results of our IBDP students and they indicate that students are on track to perform well in May 2019. There is a long way to go and students will be feeling the pressure, as internal assessment deadlines approach. In Year 12, students are preparing for their first Progress Check Test. For all our Sixth Formers, studying the IBDP is an intense experience and they can be forgiven for asking the question "Why are we doing this?"

Educational experts value the IBDP above other qualifications

The IB itself claims its program combines “the progressive thinking of the past” with “the innovation of the future”. It concludes by stating that, “an IB education is unique because of its rigorous academic and personal standards”. 

We might expect the IB to promote its brand but leading educationalists align with the perspective of the IB that it is a world class curriculum. Former headmaster of Wellington College, Sir Anthony Seldon, described it as “the platinum standard” of education in 2015.

How can these words comfort the BIS Hanoi IB student?

The IB is more than a qualification; the IB nurtures a way of thinking about the world that encourages shared perspectives, respect and empathy. These are qualities that make a significant contribution to positive relationships. These positive relationships contribute to social capital - an increasingly important resource in the world today.  


The Importance of Social Capital in a Global Context

Social capital, according to Coleman (1988), represents a set of particular resources in a social situation that can provide an advantage to an actor. Social capital is different from material capital and human capital. Human capital refers to skills and qualifications (the IB qualification) whereas social capital refers to ways of doing things and relationships between people (the IB way of learning). Coleman’s distinction between human and social capital is an interesting one. The IB claims to provide a “unique” education. If this is true then it is logical to assume that pupils who study the IB develop a unique set of skills, knowledge, and way of thinking that distinguishes them from students from other educational systems. This shared experience makes it possible for fellow IB students to form relationships with each other more easily. According to Fukuyama (1995), such relationships and the social capital they provide will be the key to success for nations in the globalised world.

Studying the IB is the key to a successful future

So, long term our students are developing a way of relating to the world that will have a more profound impact on their future than their exam results alone. Ultimately, the IBDP will change the way they think about the world and affect their relationship with others in a positive way. This process will occur regardless of their final points score. As Bagnall (2005) summarises below:

The students competing for entrance to this global culture improve their chances of success by pursuing the lB. The IB Diploma may be seen more as a key that unlocks a potential advantage in an area than the arrival at a destination of advantage.