A delegation of over 200 representatives from governments, universities and schools from across the Middle East convened for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Education Forum at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, to build awareness of the IB programmes in the region and discuss the transition of IB students from schools to higher education.
Opening the Forum, Professor Reyadh Al Mehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University said: “We, at Zayed University, are very much pleased to welcome and acknowledge the IB programmes and schools, and we recognise the rigorous and high-quality education that the IB students receive, along with the professional development provided to educators and students that improves pedagogy and leadership. Zayed University attracts students from different types of curricula, but we are especially keen to attract the high-achieving IB graduates and consider them some of our most accomplished.”
Dr Naji Almahdi, Chief, Qualifications and Awards in Dubai (QAD), at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority of the Emirate of Dubai, talked about his work with the National Qualifications Authority and its national framework for qualifications, devised to ensure that the UAE remains internationally competitive, with a view to prioritising the development of skills, and improving he country’s wellbeing.
Dr Naji explained that the national framework goes from Level 1 to Level 10, with each level representing the complexity of the qualification. Every qualification, whether it has been developed in the UAE or overseas, is benchmarked to a level in the framework and IB Diploma Programme (DP) has been compared to the Level 4, which is the same as the UAE national requirement for completing Secondary School education.
Dr Naji explained that in the UK, the IB pathways (Diploma and Career-related Programmes) are aligned to level three. The equivalent in the UAE framework is Level 4; the same level that we have benchmarked for A Levels. He said:
“We used that as a benchmark. We also look at the design of the qualifications, the volume of work students have to study, the quality assurance system and whether the assessment is at the appropriate level. Another important factor is graduates destinations and performance.
“The level 4 grading enables schools offering the IB programmes a way of describing the qualification, as well as providing a process for recognition. It also means it is much easier to see how one qualification compares to another when recruiting or selecting staff, and individuals can see what qualifications they need to progress in their job or community.
“Education is a fundamental element for the development of the UAE and is part of our vision to be among the best countries in the world by 2021. For that reason, there is a significant emphasis placed on the development of a first-rate education system, and the IB is an intrinsic part of that.”
The Forum, the first of its kind in the region to bring university recruiters and admissions teams, as well as school heads, coordinators and counsellors together to discuss the IB programmes also aimed to provide a deeper understanding of the IB Career-related Programme (CP), as well as the theory of knowledge (TOK) and approaches to learning (ATL) programme elements.
Adrian Kearney, Director of IB World Schools said:
“Since our beginnings here in 1992, the IB has learned a lot from working in the United Arab Emirates, and work that has been increasingly successful, and so we have grown, with 77 authorizes IB programmes now offered at 39 schools.
“The National Agenda calls for “a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods” so that “our students rank among the best in the world” with a higher rate of graduation “to international standards”, where all schools “have exceptional leadership and internationally accredited teaching staff.
“This is a powerful and ambitious vision, and it strongly resonates with the IB’s vision regarding the place of international standards and strong leadership in education. I believe that the IB can play a strong role in helping to make the National Agenda the success it deserves to be.
“Because the IB is associated with positive transformations in different educational contexts across the world, from Japan to Ecuador, from Saudi Arabia to Chicago. In all of those places, the introduction of the IB has led to an increase in university acceptance among students of the most varied backgrounds. The IB is recognized as providing a quality of student matched by no other programme, and the world’s greatest universities, including Oxford, Harvard, MIT and Yale, value and welcome applicants who have taken IB programmes.”
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About the International Baccalaureate
Founded in 1968 the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For close to 50 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently, more than 1,3 million IB students attend over 4,500 schools in 147 countries. To learn more, please visit www.ibo.org.