What’s The Difference Between IB and IGCSE ?
A close comparison between IB and IGCSE
Image credit : SchoolAdvisor.my
Possibly, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate (IB) are two of the most popular systems of education in Malaysian International Schools. However, there has been much debate surrounding these two systems with many people seeking to compare and contrast them against each other over the years. IB has grown in popularity as it has positioned itself as an education structure unlike IGCSE which is more of a school curriculum system.
It is important to know the key differences between the two and we have put together some of the thoughts fronted by policy makers, educators, parents and students alike to help Malaysian parents understand the two in a better way thus making it easier for them to make the right decision in relation to this aspect. It is however important to understand that these are just personal opinions from different individuals and therefore might not be a reflection of My Aone Learning.
A detailed comparison between IGCSE and IB
NO 1: Fundamental information
First, it is good to understand what the two education systems really mean. To begin with, IB offers 3 different educational programs which are designed for children at the age of 3 to 19 years. The IB structure was founded in 1968 and is purely a non-profit educational foundation. Children under this program do not sit for formal examinations and therefore there is none to be marked by the International Baccalaureate. Instead, the International Baccalaureate authenticates the students’ final grades for the final year in school but this is done upon request by the students who need the validation. Certificates are issued to the students who attain the standards required. On the other hand, IGCSE is offered by Cambridge International Examinations or CIE, which provides international qualifications, and offers examinations and qualification in over 160 countries. The International General Certificate of Secondary Education is an international alternative of the British-based GCSE qualification designed for an international student organization at a secondary point. IGCSE is a qualification established upon individual study subjects, meaning that the child is awarded IGCSE qualification for every subject they take.
NO 2: The Programmes
Both IGCSE and IB have different educational programmes. For starters, the International Baccalaureate has four programmes namely PYP for children between the age of 3 and 12 years, MYP programme for those aged between 11 and 16 years and IB Diploma for older ones aged between 16 and 19 years. On the other hand, IGCSE also has three programmes which are structured differently. The programmes include Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Secondary 1 for children between 11 and 14 years and Cambridge Secondary 2 for those in the age bracket of 14 and16 years.
NO 3: Things teachers, parents and students have to say about the two
IB in not a curriculum but an educational framework while IGCSE is more of a curriculum where students are taught with a content-based goal before sitting for a country-specific, pre-defined, and a very easy exam. In addition, International Baccalaureate programmes are scaled and are intended to steer the participants towards successful graduation from diploma curriculum with a specific mastery abilities in specific subject areas. IGCSE is designed to prepare students for an exam and the course has to follow a somewhat prescriptive course.
In many other countries, government schools where PYP and MYP are authorised for IB normally make a commitment for training and fees payments. On the other hand, IGCSE has some relevance and is therefore designed to help students everywhere throughout the world. Actually, GCSE/IGCSE is a running curriculum that is specifically founded on English national programme. On the contrary, the three IB programmes were not specifically designed by the same individual but included various persons who came up with them for different reasons and at different times.
Under IB, MYP is an instructive framework specifically designed to fit in with any curriculum being delivered by any given school. To succeed, an administrator must be involved in IB and he must understand the course so as to implement it successfully. The course is not prescriptive. On the other hand, IGCSE is an examination generally concluded at the age of 16 years and prepared for the previous two years. It might be a bit unfair to describe IGCSE as exam-driven.
NO 4: Praises towards IB and IGCSE
International Baccalaureate enables the teacher to have more control to meet the expectations of the school and the needs of the students as well as the local culture. On the contrary, International General Certificate of Secondary Education offers a simple path to help in choice making as to where one needs to go for tertiary education. It is therefore acceptable to say that IGCSE equips the learners with the basic skills that are helpful in making the right choices on their tertiary education.
IB is more centred on the student and therefore requires more of internal accountability mechanisms in order for the learners to succeed. This is somehow different from IGCSE whose accountability is external and produces greater trust due to the externally graded certificates as opposed to the internally school assessed or produced ones. The logic behind the two is that those graded by external organizations have a higher rate of authenticity than those that go through an internal grading process.
Another point of comparison is that in IB, teachers are expected to work together with others from different departments so as to provide the students with the most meaningful lessons. This calls for closer collaboration which demands frequent meetings in order to put together a workable framework that will be effective during the training. On the contrary, teachers offering IGCSE do not spend a lot of time in meetings writing curriculums or creating resources. Since the curriculum is pre-designed, all the teachers have to do is put in their time and energy training their students on what is already provided.
As far as the completion of the course goes, many students who go through the international Baccalaureate not only consider themselves as alumni of their specific schools but of the IB system as well. IB is largely adaptable where schools are provided with a framework that allows them to work alongside another curriculum. IGCSE on the other hand encourages or authorizes teachers, schools and publishers engagements to be involved in more participation. At the conclusion of the IGCSE course, the students will have to sit for a structure test that encourages international evaluation of the student’s abilities and an additional score to create a goal to be achieved by the students while at the same time proving to the universities of their abilities.
Image credit : SchoolAdvisor.my
NO 5: Curriculum and involvement
IB teachers are more familiar with the designing of their own curriculum and therefore find this framework to be more liberating. Parents whose kids are involved in IB are remarkably contended with it since the can evidently see the results especially in their kids’ behaviour. The IGCSE curriculum is intended to help students in any given part of the world. The curriculum’s market position is unsurprisingly dominant with the countries in Southeast Asia.
It is highly possible to deal with nearly any programme under the banner of IB since the goals is largely based on skills as opposed to the content. On the other hand, International General Certificate of Secondary Education is easier and also cheaper to implement. Many Asian teachers and parents prefer it due to the fact that it is more examination-centred and syllabus-driven.
IB is more marketable and many bigger companies prefer offering sponsorships to IB students since it attracts more talent in areas they are interested in. on the other hand, IGCSE can get by without the involvement of much work and are not very thorough despite the fact that they are suitable for diploma programmes. With IB programmes, schools are able to function both internationally and regionally within their unique school districts. IB is considered as the best option for students who are always on the move especially those whose parents cannot stick on one place owing to the nature of their jobs. CIE on the other hand is great at marketing and going to the basics of the school.
NO 6: Critiques of both programmes
Both programmes have been criticized in equal measures with critiques specifically faulting IB for being fully dependent on what teachers and schools have to put in. on the other hand, IGCSE has been faulted for being too focused on external exams at the conclusion of the course. IB requires greater input from teachers in that students’ abilities will have to be considered each year and the curriculum re-assessed and updated in order to focus on the current situation. On the contrary, IGCSE does not require teachers input so as to make it meaningful and rich for the students. This makes it a bit straightforward to implement while IB has been considered as a bit demanding and complicated especially in implementation on both teachers and the students.
IB has come across as an expensive program with the workshop fees running high. Implementing IGCSE is not that expensive and many schools are finding it hard to shift gears and embrace any other program. Different voices have been raised in support of the two programs with many saying they would prefer IBO if it was simplified and made a bit easier to work with some exam-based curriculums such as Cambridge.