Call to decolonise the International Baccalaureate Curriculum
Call to decolonise the International Baccalaureate Curriculum
Note if you have ever been educated in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum please fill in our surveys in which we aim to gather information about the true extent of the eurocentrism of the IB.
We want to expand a conversation which we hope will continue to evolve as we are by no means experts, if you would like to share your experience with us/contribute to the conversation please message our facebook or instagram page: https://www.facebook.com/decolonise.intl / https://www.instagram.com/decolonise_intl/
In the current climate it is now more obvious than ever that reforms are needed in educational institutions ensuring the teaching of Black, Indigenous and people of colours’ (BIPOC) stories are taught to its students. This petition implores the International Baccalaureate to hold itself accountable, because despite supposedly championing intercultural respect and open-mindedness, the IB has failed to make a stand on these issues. Note that 35% of the IB schools in the world exist in the United States, the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter movement, however if you look at their current social media feed it solely discusses online teaching and students graduating. We must demand they take action, to open this conversation and make fundamental changes e.g. not basing their entire philosophy on that of some old white men.
The International Baccalaureate is “motivated by a mission to create a better world through education”. Additionally they say that the IB is different from other educational systems because “we strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect”. These are very grand statements and while to some extent they do foster so-called “international mindedness”, the IB does not require educators to teach their students the history of its schools' host country nor does it emphasize the inclusion of BIPOC histories and contributions to society nor the roots of racism and white supremacy in its curriculums.
To truly “create a better world” the IB needs to speak out and begin making immediate changes to the MYP and DP programmes. As a white person I have been taught in the MYP about the enlightenment - the thoughts of white men, at three different grade levels . How many times was Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcom X (to name just a couple significant thinkers of colour) mentioned? Never! This is not an isolated experience; we have started to collect information about the presence of BIPOC related teachings through the international student network and so far the overwhelming answer is that we were not taught about racism or how to be anti-racist. The IB does not require its schools to even scratch the surface of Black history, systemic oppression, and racism which frankly does NOT make its curriculum better than that of other educational systems. IB students cannot fully develop intercultural understanding and respect when the history of an entire race is completely ignored.
We strongly urge the IB to make the following changes:
- Require all IB world schools to educate their students (across the PYP to DP) on modern and historical geopolitical tensions in the region of the host country so that they have an appreciation and deeper connection of their host culture. This should be done where possible in compliance with the host country’s government guidelines. Teach the host language, just because it is not an official UN language does not make it invalid to learn.
- Require selected race- gender- and ableism-inclusive topics to be introduced in PYP, in light of recent studies showing that such prejudices are instilled in children at a very young age.
- Require MYP years 1-5 Individuals and Societies curriculum to include: the histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour to be studied and how these events have shaped the modern day inequalities and oppression that these people face
- Require the all MYP years to study white privilege, systematic racism and how it benefits white populations, and how to be anti-racist. Teachers and students should have those necessary conversations to develop understanding and respect for their peers. Emphasize intersectionality as part of this framework.
- Require TOK to include how knowledge production in all fields has systematically excluded the knowledge, work, and lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. As class where students are challenged to question their beliefs and knowledge. This should be a huge part of that.
- Require MYP and IBDP Lang&Lit, and Literature classes to update their prescribed reading lists to include more BIPOC, female, queer and disabled authors, and study the contexts in which they are written.
- Require schools to have continous professional development 'Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-racism' for all educators to better facilitate discussions and decolonise their own curriculums.
- Support the reform of the curriculum by facilitating professional
development workshops with advocates e.g. FacingHistory for decolonising curriculums and introducing conversations about race with a focus on BIPOC history, present-day oppression and racism against BIPOC, and white privilege.
Recently IB general director Dr. Siva Kumari spoke to TES (https://www.tes.com/news/international-baccalareate-siva-kumari-exams-future-education-coronavirus ) about how fundamental changes to IB assessment and the overall programme are necessary in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Decolonising the programme and anti-racism should also be on that list of necessary changes. We urge the IB to lead by example. By making changes such as those above (and more), we must aim to have an impact in the long term not only on the international school system but also public schools globally. This is something that should be compulsory for everyone and not only be realised by IB graduates once they have entered university and taken specific courses on the issues concerned.
To all the students reading this - please contact your Humanities, TOK, Science, Art, English teachers, librarians, and School Leadership Team (e.g. Principal and Director). Urge them to include topics about marginalised people and intersectional issues, from civil rights movements and queer activists to female icons in science to BIPOC literature and disabled coloured writers to environmentalism in the Global South. Make those conversations happen!
To all teachers, please decolonise your own projects and curriculums, do your research, change your lesson plans, play your part in educating your students!
Illustration by Margot Strinz @chameu