KARACHI: Two years ago the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), which is equivalent to A Levels, at the Beaconhouse School System (BSS) in Karachi promised a complete educational experience. Today, the school’s results speak for themselves, as the students have made it to the top 4% in the world.
BSS is offering its IB programme at two campuses in Karachi – Defence and PECHS – and its first batch recently graduated with flying colours. Nine IBDP students graduated from the Defence campus, while 15 graduated from the PECHS campus.
The IB programme
The IBDP has a one-time examination system at the end of two years but the marks for these programme-end exams, which are conducted by external examiners, comprise only 60 to 65% of the students’ overall grade.
The remaining marks are given by the students’ teachers as part of their internal examinations. The marks are for the six academic subjects the student has chosen from the wide variety the IB programme offers. The subjects are grouped under language and literature, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics and arts.
Each of the six subjects is graded from a minimum one to a maximum seven, which adds up to 42 total marks for all six subjects. Courses have three core requirements – an extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, activity and service – that are marked out three points.
Within two years, enrolment in the programme doubled – the batch inducted in 2016 has 52 students enrolled; 22 in the Defence campus and 30 in the PECHS campus. Over 100 students have enrolled in the 2017 intake.
The acceptance of the programme can be seen by the fact that almost all of the graduating class has gotten admissions in several universities within the country and abroad as well, shared the IB programme manager for the PECHS campus, Umair Yahya.
“The number of students in this year’s batch will go up more than 100 at both campuses,” said the IB programme manager for the Defence campus, Nazia Adeel
The IBDP’s variety of courses help students develop an understanding of all subjects, Adeel explained, adding that the programme does not force students to study arts if they opted for art-related subjects in their O Levels. She said exploring their options allows students a better understanding of their future career options and helps them make a decision about their university plans.
The admission process for the IBDP started in July. Students apply, after which shortlisted candidates are called for interviews in August. The academic year for the programme starts in September.
The student-teacher ratio is low, as the programme requires that each student be given proper attention. At both campuses, the ratio is around 2.5 students per teacher, shared Yahya.
Anosha Rahim from the PECHS campus, who scored a 40, which is the highest in Karachi, said she always wanted to study in the IB programme and when she discovered that BSS was offering the programme she jumped at the chance to apply.
“My whole family was confused about what I was doing and why I was taking such an [unknown] course instead of doing my A Levels,” she said, adding that nonetheless, they supported her decision.
Another student who will soon be joining the Lahore University of Management Sciences to pursue electrical engineering degree, Sahil Vellani scored a 38 in the IBDP and was satisfied with his results.
Scoring a 31, Sarah Noor, a student at the Defence campus, said the programme is better because it relies on the conceptual understanding and hard work spanning two full years rather than rote learning. She said she will advise her younger siblings and cousins to opt for the programme as well.