IB leaders visit South Korea to kick off partnership

IB Director General Siva Kumari and a small delegation of IB leaders recently made a week-long visit to South Korea to meet with various schools, educators and policy makers in Seoul and Daegu, as well as in Jeju where Dr Kumari was the keynote speaker at the Jeju International Symposium on Education.

The delegation also included Paula Wilcock, IB Chief Assessment Officer, Ashish Trivedi, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Innovation and Incubation, Dianne Drew, Head of Dwight School, New York, andHisayuki Watanabe, a member of the IB Board of Governors, Head of Sunnyside International School (Japan) and member of the Heads Council.

The trip is part of a larger partnership between the IB and major South Korean provincial and metropolitan city offices of education to introduce the IB curriculum in public school education. Following Germany and Japan, the Dual Language Diploma Project kicked-off in partnership with the Jeju and Daegu Offices of Education in July 2019. Through this initiative, the IB will introduce DP subjects: History, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, Analysis and Approaches, plus the DP Core, in Korean. One of the outcomes of the IB’s collaboration with Jeju and Daegu Offices of Education, students in public high schools will be able to undertake up to 4 of the 6 DP courses as well as the DP core in Korean.

In Seoul, Dr Kumari met with school leaders, educators and students from the IB community in South Korea, addressed staff at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, visited Seoul National University President, Dr Oh Se-Jung, and discussed the prospect of introducing IB programmes in the public schools in Seoul with Mr Cho, Hee Yeon, Governor of Education, Seoul Metropolitan Offices of Education.

Dr Kumari visited the first ever public schools in Daegu that received candidacy for PYP and MYP on the invitation of the Governor of Education of Daegu, Ms Kang Eunhee. Seven other schools in Daegu are in the process of putting their applications for candidacy for PYP, MYP and DP.

In a joint interview alongside Governor of Education for Jeju, Lee Seok-mum, Dr Kumari told a reporter at JIBS that the IB aligns well with South Korea’s recent education reform efforts to remove the strain of rote assessment and instead better prepare students for a global career marketplace in which critical thinking is more highly valued than fact acquisition.

“I believe the IB is optimally placed to help contribute a small example of how this might work in your national education strategy. The IB programmes, which stress individualized learning, a global outlook, strong communication skills, and creative, evidence-based analysis, comprise a framework that can be used to effectively introduce a new method of educating South Korean high school students. Armed with appropriate, rigorous training, teachers can effectively operationalize the recent national education blueprint, leading to enhanced educational outcomes while ensuring students' social and emotional well-being.“

Among their visits and meetings, Dr Kumari and the IB delegation spent time at North London Collegiate School and Branksome Hall Asia. currently the only two IB schools on Jeju.

Dr Cinde Lock, Principal of Branksome Hall Asia said, “It is a great honor to welcome Dr Kumari to our school during her significant visit in South Korea. We are extremely proud of the education we offer at Branksome Hall Asia. Our students truly exemplify the essence of an IB education.”

Dr Kumari capped off the week with her keynote to the Jeju International Symposium on Education, where she praised South Korea’s vision for education playing a key role in the country’s own efforts to create a more peaceful future for its citizens and the world around them.

“I believe the IB’s foundation aligns well with the Korea’s vision for a more peaceful future. Our founders saw education as developing young people around the world who understand their role in creating a shared community that cares about global issues. And, for more than 50 years the IB has been dedicated to developing young people who are driven to contribute to a better and more peaceful world—one with inclusivity and intercultural understanding as the simple yet powerful building block.”