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International Baccalaureate helps to open the doors of the world’s most prestigious universities, but its real value is much higher

Convinced of this, dr. Marta Bobiatynska, Head of International Programmes at Erudito licėjus, has been working with the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme in different European countries since 2004. According to her, the biggest advantage of this programme is students’ learning and personal change, which is shaped by the programme’s philosophy of encouraging open-ended questions, critical thinking, collaboration, and taking responsibility for one’s choices.

Last year – like at university

According to the expert, this change is first noticed by teachers, but soon its value is also understood by young people. “I will not deny, the programme is academically strong, you need to work a lot and often independently, search for material in the library, do research, write essays, be able to substantiate your opinion. Thus, by studying in 11 and 12 grades, where the IB Diploma program is implemented, students basically learn to work as at university,” says M. Bobiatynska. She often receives messages from her former students who are already seeing how difficult it can be for students who do not have these skills to start their studies: “Now we understand why we studied this way and what you wanted.”

The IB Diploma program is recognised worldwide and, while not guaranteeing a place to study, it increases your chances of getting into the best universities. Already in the first year of the programme, the career counselor encourages the student to start research and find out about study opportunities in different countries. “This is how we develop research skills, and students are better prepared to make decisions about where and what to study. In addition, they have better time management, collaboration, communication, presentation skills, as they are required by the learning tasks,” says the representative of the Erudito licėjus.

Open-ended questions instead of standardised tests

In many national education programmes, teaching is still based on a large amount of factual knowledge, and to be successful, the student must memorize them and be able to answer questions on standardized tests. In the IB Diploma program, a student chooses six subjects that he or she wants to study in depth. “Since the program includes the last two grades, it is assumed that students have already acquired enough knowledge from all subjects, so now they can delve into what is really relevant and interesting for them. Learning is conducted in English, many of these subjects are taught at the university level, and the focus is not on the grade but on the student and his or her learning experience. As teachers, we encourage students to offer their ideas, attitudes, opinions, which do not necessarily coincide with ours,” says M. Bobiatynska.

Impressive start

Next year, the first edition of Erudito licėjus students will complete the IB Diploma programme. Although the programme was launched recently, the expert sees a clear commitment from the school to focus on the IB programme. “I haven’t often encountered cases where a school offers such a wide range of subjects from the very beginning. In some subjects, the teacher teaches only one student, but such an opportunity is provided. We have an international team of teachers – I have been teaching in IB Diploma programme in various countries for more than ten years, there are teachers from Denmark, South Africa, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, the USA and other countries. For such a small school, these are really impressive numbers. The more diverse the composition of teachers, the greater the cultural diversity, the more students benefit,” says M. Bobiatynska.