The demand for a new paradigm of education organised on the principles of educating students for global citizenship, and providing them with the skills to adapt to a sea of global change, has resulted in the rapid growth of the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The IBOs success as a key global player within the field of international education has subsequently given rise to its own set of challenges, dilemmas and strategic imperatives. One of the most pressing strategic challenges of the organisation is opening up the access of its programs to those disadvantaged through economic or geographic disparities.
The IBOs rapid expansion and development of a near monopolistic brand in recent decades has attracted some criticism for its ad hoc expansion, maintenance of Western ideals, and a tendency for catering exclusively to the socioeconomic elite. In a revision of their expansionary policy in 2004, the IB redirected their growth strategy to a “growth and access focus”; purposefully increasing access to “disadvantaged students” within areas where the biggest impact could be leveraged. The drive to “increase the opportunity for more students to experience and benefit from an IB education regardless of personal circumstances” (“Mission and Strategy”, 2004).
connects with the ideals expressed by the founders original vision in the 1960s.
This essay will examine these challenges associated with the IBOs efforts to expand in a global market, where its brand is often synonymous with the mobile elite, and at the same time remain true to its strategic vision of providing increased access to those disadvantaged by geographic and financial circumstance.
The dynamically changing global context introduces a new level of complexity and challenge for education. The forces of globalisation, collapsing trade boundaries, and constantly evolving technology have reshaped the educational landscape resulting in widespread structural and qualitative change (Suarez-Oronzco & Qin-Hilliard, 2004).
Located within this maelstrom of change, there is increasing necessity for educational systems to focus on the challenges of educating students for globalisation, learning in the digital age, encouraging intercultural understanding and living ethically within a sustainability mindset (Tarc, 2009). Just as globalisation has increased the divide between developing and industrialised countries, so too has the gap in equity and access opportunities to quality education widened. Even in developed countries, many educational systems still cling to an anachronistic industrial age model, and are proving slow to adapt to the necessary changes, further accentuating the learning and socioeconomic divide (Resnik, 2009).
Similarly, the IBO evolved during an earlier time of turbulent political and social change. Founded on a philosophy of education recognising the transformative power of a holistic education and its ability to create...