IB Director General says education worldwide must adapt to a new world post COVID-19 (coronavirus)


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IB Director General Dr Siva Kumari speaks with Tes International about the IB’s response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus), and her views on the future of education worldwide as the organization reflects on lessons learned during the pandemic.

Over the past few months, the IB has responded to a number of unprecedented challenges by quickly adopting new processes and ways of working.

During an interview with Tes International, Dr Kumari explained that the IB streamlined processes and created rapid response mechanisms to best support schools during these trying times.

“We’ve now designed new systems in the organization, and we are – pretty much – customer-centric now. When we hear something from schools, our goal is to (quickly) get the response in place,” – Dr Kumari

Dr Kumari said the IB made a decision early on to ‘not let this crisis go to waste’, but to emerge from this global health crisis as a stronger organization that supports the wide variety of schools, teachers and students within the IB community.

Rethinking examinations for Diploma Programme students

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic forced schools worldwide to close, disrupting students’ learning and preventing the Diploma Programme (DP) final examinations from taking place in its traditional format.

Dr Kumari said that the IB had to react quickly and devise an assessment system that the organization could get behind. She explains that they leveraged data, information and assets from schools as a ‘basis for awarding this year.’

“Our prime consideration was how do we do everything we can to ensure that a student gets a validation from the IB of their work, and how do we ensure that universities accept that validation, because we didn’t want students to lose out,”– IB Director General.

A future for education focused on skills

While end-of-programme examinations are an important tool to validate students’ learning, Dr Kumari maintained that at the IB ‘we always focus on preparing students for life, rather than to sit an exam.’

Dr Kumari also highlighted the fact that so many students will be entering a world that will look very different to what came before, and that education must hence become more skills orientated rather than solely knowledge based.

The IB leader said all educational systems must focus on teaching skills such as critical thinking, interdisciplinary connections, discipline, collaboration and interpersonal sensitivities.

“The people who are going to survive in this world are going to be the ones who can be resilient, agile and disciplined about their own mental capabilities. All those are going to become very important life skills for students who are going to enter a new world soon,” – Dr Kumari.

You can listen to the complete interview on the Tes International website here or stream it from your preferred streaming service.