The Still I Rise International school in Nairobi, Kenya, is now officially included in the International Baccalaureate (IB) system, as an IB Candidate School. It will be the first international school in the world to offer a high-level diploma to vulnerable and refugee students, completely free of charge.
Starting in January 2022, after the current preparatory year developed by Still I Rise's Education Department, the 137 students enrolled at the school - aged between 10 and 17 - will begin their Middle Years Programme studies. After four years, they will begin the Diploma Programme which will offer them an academic diploma that will open doors to the world's best universities.
"This is an achievement that we've been anticipating for months. We offer the best education and today, by becoming part of the IB system, we can say that we certainly are on the right track. IB has approved our candidature; they recognise the value and potential of our School, the educational philosophy we apply and how we plan to grow and improve our community in the months to come," says Michele Senici, Education Director at Still I Rise. He has been following the collaboration with the International Baccalaureate Organisation since its beginning.
WHAT IS IB? The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. It is a not-for-profit organisation that works with schools, governments and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active and sympathetic, with a deep respect for other people and their views. IB pathways are among the most renowned and expensive in the world, offered by schools whose students include the children of those who have chosen high-level diplomatic, political and business careers.
WHY DID STILL I RISE CHOOSE IB? Still I Rise deeply believes in the transformative power of education, which holds the key to a fairer, more equitable world. The organisation's International Schools aim to break down a glaring gap in the education system based on the economic situations of families. Thus, Still I Rise offers free, top-quality education to vulnerable and refugee boys and girls who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The choice of the IB Diploma enhances the existing high value-offer, providing students with one of the best educational pathways in the world through a holistic approach, profoundly similar to the one already implemented in Still I Rise schools.
DETAILS AND NUMBERS At full capacity, the Still I Rise International School in Nairobi will offer the IB curriculum to approximately 280 students. There are currently 137 students enrolled: 49% are Kenyan nationals and 51% are refugees. Eight nationalities are present: 14% of students are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 10% from Somalia, 8% from South Sudan, 7% from Burundi, 6% from Ethiopia, 4% from Uganda and 3% from Rwanda.
Currently the students are taking part in the Preparatory Year, a program developed by Still I Rise's Education Department with the goal of equipping students with the tools needed to meet the high standards of the IB curriculum, which will begin in January 2022. Each child spends almost 60 hours a week at the school: 30 hours of lessons and 30 hours dedicated to leisure and socialising. They have six different lessons per day, which is a total of 54 daily modules taught by the organisation's 12 teachers.
The subjects of the Middle Years Programme range from literature, society, mathematics, science, physical and health education, foreign languages, art and design. The peculiarities of the local culture are not forgotten: instead, they are emphasised in the teaching programmes. To this end, 82% of the school's teachers and staff are Kenyans. The teachers are undergoing specific and continued training in order to adapt the current training modules to the high standards of IB teaching.
"The coming months will be a profound learning experience for all of us. We will continue aligning ourselves with the IB philosophy in order to be able to offer not only the curriculum, but also the examination and the final diploma," concludes Michele Senici. "As Director of Education and the person responsible for preparing the school for this milestone, writing about the educational method, policies and our guidelines, I can't even begin to say how excited I am about this achievement. Today, even more so, I understand how much revolution we are bringing to the world, doing the most beautiful thing: teaching".
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