The Nairobi Academy launches IB Diploma, an academic exploration driven by passion

Photo credit: The Nairobi Academy

By Millicent Mwololo

The Nairobi Academy is set to take in the first cohort of the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) students this September. Mr Samuel Karinga, the IB Co-ordinator at the school, explains why the academy has made this move, and why parents should consider enrolling their sons and daughters into the curriculum: “The IB Diploma Programme is an all-rounded academic journey that develops students into internationally-minded people, who are open-minded, dynamic, purposeful, and balanced.”

While the IBDP entails an academic rigour that requires students to focus, it also engages them elaborately in all other aspects of life. The holistic approach prepares students for success in higher education, and at the same time nurtures them to become well-rounded individuals with good grasps of what is happening around the world.

Throughout the programme, IBDP learners work independently, but with the guidance and support from their teachers. They freely interact with knowledge, and hence strive to be inquirers, thinkers, communicators, and leaders who are principled, reflective, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, and balanced. This indeed reflects the IB learner profiles.

Photo credit: The Nairobi Academy

Admission and enrolment into The Nairobi Academy IBDP is ongoing. The school is targeting an initial class of about 45 students. They will be drawn from Year 11 learners transitioning to Year 12 in the British National Curriculum, Year 11 students from other schools, and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) leavers.

KCSE graduates can transition into the IB Diploma Programme and fit so well. “I have seen it work very well in the past,” says Mr Karinga, who has previously taught in the IB Diploma Programme at other IB world schools.

Photo credit: The Nairobi Academy

This being an international programme, The Nairobi Academy is expecting learners from other East African countries as well, and even beyond. “We are also targeting students from the diaspora community whose parents are relocating or are on international assignment and prefer an IB school,” Mr Karinga adds.

According to the school’s Head of English, Mr Joshua Musee, who has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has taught IB for seven years, the programme gives young KCSE graduates two additional years to mature. “It provides a transitional period for an 8-4-4 student to grow and become a different person.” The programme serves as an alternative to a pre-university course that KCSE graduates would otherwise take before joining most universities abroad, and which would be less costly.

Photo credit: The Nairobi Academy

The programme’s holistic flavour sets it apart from many other academic curricular, as it is not just about academic excellence. It makes use of inquiry based teaching, whereby teachers provoke curiosity in their learners, who have to then go out looking for facts and information. Also, through conceptual teaching, students are made to understand the bigger picture of things.

Thus, learning under the IB includes being exposed to thinking skills, research skills, and social skills. Students are taught to think through issues to solve problems.

The modes of assessments add meaning to the learning. Students sit down with their teachers to broadly analyse their academic results, and reflect the outcome to advance their learning.

Each IB Diploma student is required to select studies from six subject groups: Language and Literature; Language Acquisition; Individual and Societies, commonly known as humanity subjects, covering Sciences, Mathematics, and The Arts.

In an academic exploration that is purely driven by passion, students select two levels of subjects to pursue. There is the higher level, where they delve deep into their subject choices, and the standard level, which exposes them to a broad outlook of the subject. They have to select three subjects at higher level and three at standard level. They may also have the option to take four subjects at higher level and two at standard level.

Photo credit: The Nairobi Academy

“The beauty with the IB Diploma Programme is that it blends very well with both Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) and the 8-4-4 system of education,” says Mr Musee.

The programme has three other subjects considered as the core. These are:

1. The Extended Essay (EE): Under this, the students choose the subjects they would like to write about, guided by their passion. It’s like a mini-thesis. The students also choose the teachers to mentor them. Each teacher mentors a student or two.

2. Theory of Knowledge (TOK): This is a key area of the DP core. The students are taught about how to know, what to know, and areas of knowledge. The aim is to grow learners’ critical thinking capacities, so that they do not take things at face value. There is an aspect of research and looking at different perspectives of issues. This topic teaches students to make informed (research-based) choices. “At the end of the first year, they have an exhibition to showcase their projects,” says Mr Paul Kimani, the TOK Coordinator.

3. Creativity, Action, Service (CAS): The third core of the IB Diploma programme is purely built on the students’ experiences. They can do it on their own or as a team, but each of them has their own tracker and an advisor, either from within the school or external, who write a report on the student’s progress.

The Nairobi Academy

More information on this development, and also about the school, is available in a special newspaper feature that is downloadable from here. You are welcome to check out our website too.

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