Dear IB Community,
As I write this note, several million refugees, many of them children, are fleeing Ukraine as Russia carries out its invasion. Across the globe, countless others are watching the war as it unfolds on television and phone screens. As painful as it is to bear witness, we cannot hide from the tragedy, nor can we fully shield our children from it.
At the IB, we place our trust in children. We nurture their curiosity, we encourage them to be caring, balanced and reflective. We develop their abilities to think critically, and we believe that they will grow into adults who will act with integrity.
But what do we do when the world we are so carefully preparing them to enter now shows signs of breaking? When conflict and war is not a history lesson in a classroom but a flesh and blood reality for their peers? What of the trust they place in us, the adults of the world?
When experiencing and hearing of a crisis, we all, children and adults alike, are faced with the uncertainty of what happens next and the fear of how this will affect us and those closest to us. Which is why, at times like this, it is important to safeguard the ability to act and help others through the meaning and mission of our community.
Supporting our schools and students
The IB condemns acts of war and violence. Our mission tells us there is a way to manage conflict through dialogue and as a united community leaning on the strength of our learner profile and our belief in one shared humanity and planet.
It is our humanity that impels us, as an organization, and as a community, to do everything within our power to support those impacted directly and indirectly by the war and its consequences, including supporting those who may not have agency, voice or power to act. We can, and must, put the principles we instill in our classrooms into action in our most vulnerable and endangered communities. Our IB World Schools staff are working closely with schools, students and educators in Ukraine and neighboring nations, and we will continue to provide support for our schools, educators and students while respecting the law and ensuring the safety of those in our community.
For our global community, our Learning and Teaching experts are collating a variety of resources for you to use in your classrooms and living rooms. These materials will help support well-being and provide opportunities for safe dialogues. Schools worldwide are directly and indirectly impacted, and students may find themselves learning through crisis or learning about crisis. The framework that our team has developed is a collection of curated resources that support: our well-being, our learning, our action and our communities. We expect the resources to continuously be updated.
I have the utmost respect for our students, parents and teachers. I have been moved by the outpouring of love for the Ukrainian community and heartened by how vocally so many of you have protested senseless violence. I encourage you to keep talking with your children and your students. Keep providing them with safe spaces, if you can, to explore these complex and difficult topics.
We truly are a caring and compassionate global community. These are the times when our values and learner profile attributes are really tested. Although saddened with what is happening, we shall never lose our faith in humanity and our trust to be able through imagination to create a better world. I fervently hope that we will achieve peace soon. Our children deserve nothing less from us.
Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General