In 1924 a group of idealistic civil servants who were working for the League of Nations opened the International School of Geneva. The curriculum that they proposed was intended to promote critical thinking and an exposure to a variety of points of view, in order to encourage intercultural understanding amongst young people. A year later, a proposal was made to create an internationally recognised examination for school leavers that would be a passport to universities around the world. As it was, it took until 1965 before the International Schools Examination Syndicate was formed thanks to grants from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), The Twentieth Century Fund and the Ford Foundation.

Under the auspices of UNESCO and guided by a group of educationalists including Kurt Hahn (founder of Gordonstoun, the Scottish academy that schooled the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales), the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) was founded in 1968. The educationalists started with a tabula rasa and drew on the inspiration of the best parts of many national education systems in order to create a new qualification. The first Diploma Programme (DP) examinations were administered in 1970. This qualification – now well-established – unites many students from across the globe in a shared academic experience, promoting critical thinking and intercultural understanding.

Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the IBO works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

(IBO, Geneva, November 2002)

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