Evolve, grow, improve
Dear IB community,
The disruptions we have faced over the past three years have challenged our understanding of reality and humanity. Raised questions about our future. But most of all these disruptions have revealed what many of us already knew—that our community turns every challenge into an opportunity for growth, with the hope that our future generations will bring the change we need to see to the world.
The education community has been rocked by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, global conflicts, natural disasters and local crises. Despite this we know that our IB community is resilient in the face of hardship, embraces innovation and inspires hope in young people, who have taken action locally and globally. We have also seen that our community of schools, teachers and students continues to grow – there are now 7,530 programmes being offered worldwide, across 5,548 schools in 160 countries.
As educators, we are discovering that advanced interdisciplinary competencies are required to cope with the uncertainties of our rapidly changing world. Education systems tend to be naturally biased towards cognitive skills, but it is becoming clear that students will need much more than that to become the agents of change the world so desperately needs.
At the IB, we endeavour to help schools navigate ever-changing, unforeseen circumstances as they support their students to develop into inquiring, knowledgeable young people and empower them to create the better and more peaceful world we all strive for. The bigger the challenge, the better the opportunity to live true to the IB mission.
We look at our history, not to move backwards or stagnate, but to value our heritage and be even more IB in the future. And the faster the change around us, the more possibilities there are to utilize the innovative power of the IB community.
In 2022, we worked with Oxford University to publish a foundational framework on well-being in childhood and adolescence and our learning and teaching experts designed resources to support educators and school leaders in implementing well-being strategies and action plans within their schools. With strategies and action plans in place, schools can focus on nurturing their students’ diverse talents and strengths, while supporting them to build their resilience to help them cope with stress and overcome adversity.
Our priorities as we respond to the ongoing and emerging challenges have developed as we worked on our strategy this year. By 2030 the IB will be more open, more progressive and more forward-thinking.
We will evolve our educational programmes, grow the number of young people benefiting from an IB education and improve our services to support the capabilities of our community.
Working closely with IB World Schools, we are re-imagining “what” and “how” we teach, based on cultural and digital transformations. Thinking together about the future makes the implementation process easier. This includes a review of programmes for 16–19-year-olds, which is underway with the assistance of our incredibly knowledgeable community.
Even with this forward-thinking mindset, it’s clear that there is a continuity of shared values and commitments during times of change within our community. Our shared values drive us all as we work to deliver the IB mission, which has informed all of our efforts since the IB’s foundation in 1968.
We all believe that an IB education is uniquely placed to empower the next generation of students, which leads us to question: how can we increase access to the IB? The historic disruption to education brought on by the pandemic highlighted the need for improved access to learning for IB students and our community stepped up with innovative solutions, but the challenge remains in how to harness technology to help us increase diversity and give more students the chance to study with the IB.
To address this, we have launched an online Diploma Programme pilot. The pilot is delivering a fully online Diploma Programme for students who may not be able to attend a brick-and-mortar school. We want to remove the barriers that prevent some students from having access to educational excellence because we believe that educational excellence should be available to all. Only by embracing innovation and inspiring action can we provide the continual improvements in service and support that we guarantee to our schools.
Teaching is more than a job. It is a vocation. A calling. Supporting IB educators with the tools they need to realise their calling remains a top priority. This is why we recently launched a new online professional development platform, IB Exchange. This free, interactive space offers IB educators a platform to access thousands of resources to support teaching in their programme and subject, connect with and learn from peers, and elevate their expertise by contributing their teaching and learning insights within a global network of educators.
What gives you hope?
For students and young people, research and conversations have shown us that they are deeply concerned about the state of the world. Encouraging risk-takers, inquiring minds, and promoting student agency is not only our duty as IB educators upholding the IB learner profile, but our duty as adults as we support young people navigating a world that they feel is spiralling out of their control. That’s why the IB launched an initiative called the Festival of Hope. Creating hope, building community and inspiring action for millions of young people, the Festival of Hope will facilitate conversations and events between young people and some of the world’s most prominent thinkers to explore the urgent questions of our time.
As we prepare for a future irrevocably changed by the events of the past few years, we look forward to working together with all of you — a community of passionate educators constantly striving to create a better world through education.
– IB Director General, Olli-Pekka Heinonen