An increasingly popular international education system, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is studied during the last two years of secondary school and is designed to prime students for university and working life.
Sparking empathy and inquisitiveness are hallmarks of the IBDP, which encourages and trains independent thought and research. Held at the tail end of the International Baccalaureate’s continuum of international education, which spans ages 3 to 19, the diploma programme is noted for its emphasis on academics and personal development.
The curriculum comprises six subject groups and the programme core. Students choose one subject each from five groups – sciences; mathematics; language and literature; language acquisition; and individuals and societies – and either an art subject from the sixth group or a second subject from the first five groups. They learn at least two languages and are exposed to many ideas and challenges.
Diploma subjects are taken at either a higher level (HL) or standard level (SL) course, which differ in scope. Three or four subjects are taken at higher level (totalling 240 teaching hours), while the other subjects are taken at standard level (totalling 150 teaching hours). The Diploma Programme core encompasses the extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, action, service (CAS). The extended essay requires students to engage in independent questioning and research of a specific subject, which they examine through the lens of at least two Diploma Programme subjects.
Alongside the extended essay, the theory of knowledge cultivates one’s approach to learning, and CAS nurtures an appreciation for the community and giving back. Besides school assessment tasks that are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners, the IBDP also involves written examinations held at the end of the programme that are marked by external IB examiners.
Students are awarded a grade ranging from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) for each subject they take. For theory of knowledge and the extended essay, they can be awarded up to three additional points for these combined results, and students who gain at least 24 points receive a diploma certification, provided all other prerequisites like participation and CAS are fulfilled. The highest possible mark is 45 points.
The International Baccalaureate states that its mission is ‘to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect’. As such, the organisation maintains strong ties with all partner schools, governments and international organisations in a bid to cultivate challenging curriculums for students of all backgrounds. Beyond the emphasis of intellect and learning, the IBDP also places significant focus on the physical, emotional and ethical development of students. Armed with an international outlook, interpersonal skills and effective attitudes, these well-rounded students are taught compassion and to celebrate all points of view.
The IBDP is fast becoming the programme of choice for the last years of secondary school. Its unique system has proven to yield graduates who manage their time well and adapt quickly to heavy workloads, and students who undertake the IBDP in Malaysia are known for scoring well above the world average.