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Organization: International Baccalaureate Organization
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

The International Baccalaureate Organization is educating this year approximately 200,000 children in 1,500 schools spread across 117 countries for a world that is free of violence and filled with understanding where the rights of children and adults are respected.  The annual increase in IB schools and student numbers is 15%, so our contribution has been spreading as the decade for peace moves on.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

The main obstacle to spreading our programmes in parts of the world more prone to conflict (the developing world and poorer countries) is cost. We are actively seeking donors to promote, not just our programmes per se, but the philosophy on which they are based in less affluent countries and we have had some success.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

Our organization has developed three international educational programmes offered in English, French and Spanish as follows:
Primary Years Programme (PYP) -for children from 3 to 11 or 12 years
Middle Years Programme (MYP) -for children from 11 to 16 years (also offered in Chinese)
Diploma Programme (DP) -for students in their final two years of secondary education, this is an entry qualification to higher studies.
In this way the International Baccalaureate Organization is educating this year approximately 200,000 children in 1,500 schools spread across 117 countries for a world free of violence and understanding where the rights of children and adults are respected. Public schools without any tuition fees comprise almost half of the total number of schools. The annual increase in IB schools and student numbers is 15%, so our contribution will spread further as the decade for peace moves on.
In addition, many of these schools undertake specific activities in their local communities to promote intercultural understanding and respect for others through a compulsory social service component of our courses. These include survival skills programmes with street children, helping children cope with parents with AIDS, utilising conflict resolution skills in local disputes, assisting the elderly, undertaking publicity campaigns and essay or art competitions for respecting human rights, and so on.
The International Baccalaureate Organization also offers a course entitled "Peace and Conflict Studies" which was developed by one of the IB schools.  A copy of this syllabus and past examination papers are available on request.
The educational philosophy underpinning these programmes is explained in the publication "A continuum of international education."  As seen from the following excerpts, this philosophy supports the basic principles of a culture of peace:  
The IBO is unapologetically idealistic in believing that education can foster understanding among young people around the world, enabling future generations to live more peacefully and productively than before. By emphasizing the dynamic combination of knowledge, skills, independent critical thought and international awareness or intercultural understanding, the IBO espouses the principles of educating the whole person for a life of active, responsible citizenship.
Developing the capacity for critical examination of oneself and one's traditions, for living "the examined life" that Socrates described, is the starting point from which all else follows (Nussbaum, 1997). Encouraging students to examine critically their own and others' customs and traditions is a necessary element for an education that enables them to discern what is of value and what ought to be cherished and retained.
The IBO has always embraced the concept of an international community and its chief purpose is to provide an educational environment in which anyone, anywhere, may participate, may contribute, and may be encouraged by all to grow individually, and with an understanding of others. The development of "world citizenship" does not assume that local or national citizenship is not of paramount importance, but that we must recognize and help students to appreciate and understand the worth of human life wherever it is lived, and that we share a bond with all other human beings by virtue of our common humanity. Such a pluralist view is based on the tenet that human diversity is intrinsically valuable and that because there is a plurality of human identities, interaction among them brings the possibility of greater mutual understanding. Developing in students their ability to appreciate and to evaluate human diversity and its legitimate boundaries can bring with it a strengthening of their motivation to modify their behaviour accordingly (Orellana Benado, 1995).
Today, more than ever before, we are aware that many of the issues facing young people require collaborative global solutions that extend well beyond parochial and national boundaries. The prevalence of discrimination, racism in all its forms, abuse of human rights, famine, poverty and environmental destruction, require a much greater understanding of what internationalism means in terms of our planet and its inhabitants. Significantly, in each of the three programmes, the learning experiences for students are designed to relate to the realities of the outside world. Much emphasis is placed on the goal of international understanding and a consciousness of common concerns as a basis for a more peaceful, sustainable future for all. The challenge is to foster development of citizenship at multiple levels - in the immediate community, at a wider national level and beyond, in an international sense - while at the same time encouraging the development in students of a sense of their own identity.
One of the practical ways in which IBO programmes develop citizenship is through service to others that requires both action and reflection. The inclusion of this area in the design of each programme is important and each provides many opportunities for translating theory into practice and for engendering the satisfaction that comes from giving, whether that be within one's family, the school community, the local community, one's country or the wider global community.
The description of the educational aims of the organization outlined by the founding director general, Alec Peterson, referring to the Diploma Programme, still holds true today:
"[The aim is] to develop to their fullest potential the powers of each individual to understand, to modify and to enjoy his or her environment, both inner and outer, in its physical, social, moral, aesthetic and spiritual aspects." (Peterson, 1987)
And today, as expressed in the IBO mission statement:
"Through comprehensive and balanced curricula coupled with challenging assessment, the International Baccalaureate Organization aims to assist schools in their endeavours to develop the individual talents of young people and teach them to relate the experience of the classroom to the realities of the world outside. Beyond intellectual rigour and high academic standards, strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship, to the end that IB students may become critical and compassionate thinkers, lifelong learners and informed participants in local and world affairs, conscious of the shared humanity that binds all people together while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life." (IBO Council of Foundation, 1996)
How effective this statement is must be judged by its translation into the curriculum and assessment of each programme and, in turn, into the teaching and learning that takes place in IB classrooms. This issue has been succinctly articulated by a former director general of the IBO, Roger Peel:
"Is the IBO just another variant of the proliferation of national systems around the world, or do we in fact provide a service that transcends such boundaries in ways that are unique? The answers to such questions depend to a large degree on our interpretation of "international" and on how we choose to infuse it into our curriculum." (Peel, 1997)
What is significant here is the underlying concept of education of the whole person as a lifelong process, of which the formal years of schooling are but a fundamental part. What is also acknowledged, with the introduction of the PYP, is that education for world citizenship needs to begin early, in fact as soon as young children can engage in storytelling of home, of other places and of other people. The development of world citizenship must take place at every age (Nussbaum, 1997).
Developing an understanding of the nature and value of one's own culture is a fundamental starting point for any educational programme claiming to be international. From here the role of the study of others' cultures can begin:
"From my own perspective, the honesty of the IBO stems from the fact that we require all students to relate first to their own national identity -their own language, history and cultural heritage, no matter where in the world this may be. Beyond that, we ask that they identify with the corresponding traditions of others. It is not expected that they adopt alien points of view, merely that they are exposed to them and are encouraged to respond intelligently. The end result, we hope, is a more compassionate population, a welcome manifestation of national diversity within an international framework of tolerant respect. Ideally, at the end of the experience, students should know themselves better than when they started, while acknowledging that others can be right in being different." (Peel, 1997)
Giving priority to students knowing and appreciating their own culture first is essential in fostering their sense of identity with their own traditions, customs and mores, and the joy and immense satisfaction that this background provides to a growing child. Cultural roots are as important as our basic needs for survival: they dictate all our relationships, whether they be with family, community, nation or the wider world. Most significantly, they also determine how we communicate with others and how we share the experience of living. Less admirably, however, they also determine how we exploit, exert power and destroy, which is why the study of culture and language is fundamental to learning to live together:
"Culture is a fundamental phenomenon. It affects not only our daily practices: the way we live, are brought up, manage, are managed, and die; but also the theories we are able to develop to explain our practices. No part of our lives is exempt from culture's influence." (Hofstede, 1997)
How students' understanding of culture is developed is a major challenge for each programme's curriculum design. How a curriculum can present students with major questions, such as Hofstede's, for analysis in relation to the concept of culture, is a significant task (Hofstede, 1997).
Such questions include:
* how power, authority and inequality are manifested in one's own culture and that of others
* how one's own culture regards the relationship between an individual and a group and how such a relationship is regarded by others
* the significance of gender in one's own culture and in that of others
* how one's own culture and others' deal with life's uncertainties and ambiguities
Developing an understanding of culture ls critical to promoting an understanding of others and an ability to relate cooperatively to them. This is what each individual programme and the sequence of programmes seek to achieve - to enable students to develop an awareness of themselves first, while recognizing that others are different and that others "can be right in being different" (Peel, 1997). Without an understanding of the importance of diversity of culture in human life and an openness to cooperative sharing of knowledge, students are unlikely to develop tolerance and an acceptance that civilized life must be sustained through living together peacefully.
The role of language, the mother tongue, and the study of other languages, have a special place in each programme's curriculum design. It is through language that we access our own and others' culture. The potential of culture to foster multilingualism from early childhood is fundamental to the sequence of programmes.
"...while we live, while we are among human beings, let us cultivate our humanity." (Seneca, in Nussbaum, 1997)
A major focus underlying the philosophy of the IBO is the acknowledgment of the diverse values inherent in the different cultures of the world. Most important in this acknowledgment is the value placed on human diversity and on intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth, enriched by a strong civic sense and involvement in the local and wider community.
In developing an awareness of the diverse values of different cultures, it is, however, fundamental that students in each IBO programme are exposed to those human values which are recognized as universal; these are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Implicit in the recognition of universal human rights is the value placed on the role of education (Article 26 of the declaration) to foster understanding and respect for life on earth and for the best possible curriculum to be enjoyed by all who participate. Of similar importance is the recognition that the quality of the environment for learning in any school is critical, as the values and attitudes of the school community will shape the kind of future in which young people will live. A school's ethos which has a commitment to social justice and equity will be readily apparent in the daily life, conduct, management and leadership of the school.
We also attached some photos of a teacher training programme in child-centered education at elementary (primary) school level which we are undertaking on contract with the government of Cambodia.

Children participating actively in their education. Cambodia:

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

Concentrate on educating the young who can influence their parents and siblings; this requires a unit on "education for peace" in all teacher training institutions.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

We have partnerships with
Peace Child International
International Peace Bureau
Earth Charter secretariat
Ecole Instrument de Paix

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

Our major goal is to provide more access to our type of education for those who are in less privileged circumstances.

Postal address of organization

Route des Morillons 15, Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, CH-1218, Switzerland

E-mail address of organization


Website address of organization


Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

education for a culture of peace

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Highest priority country of action (or international)


Second priority country of action (or international)

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Organization: International Baccalaureate Organization

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