One of the many things that sets the the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) apart from other educational systems and models is the emphasis on responsible action and service.

As students progress through the MYP, they gain deeper understandings of important, transferable concepts, they consider local, national, regional and global issues and develop their own sense of self and of personal responsibility in their community.

“As students become more aware and acquire a better understanding of the context, and of their responsibilities, they become empowered to make choices about how to take thoughtful and positive action… The action may involve students in:

  • feeling empathy towards others
  • making small-scale changes to their behaviour
  • undertaking larger and more significant projects
  • acting on their own
  • acting collaboratively
  • taking physical action
  • suggesting modifications to an existing system to the benefit of all involved
  • lobbying people in more influential positions to act.”

(IBO, p.24)

Service in the MYP empowers students to build authentic connections between what they learn in class with what they encounter in their community. Teachers create learning opportunities for students to make these connections, to ensure the experience of service offers genuine opportunities for students to apply the concepts, skills and knowledge that have been learnt in school.

One example of school learning being transferred into responsible action and service can be seen in the first year of MYP in Grade 6 at IGBIS. Earlier this year in English class, Grade 6 students studied the novel “Boy Overboard” by Maurice Gleitzman. The fictional novel tells the story of a family of refugees fleeing from persecution in their home country and trying to find a better, safer life overseas. The students considered the characters in the novel alongside the real and often tragic stories of refugees that we frequently see on the news.

IGBIS Responsible Action Service

Over the past few months, we have been working with volunteers from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) here in Kuala Lumpur to create a programme for our Grade 6 students to transfer their learning in English class into responsible action and service.

IGBIS Responsible Action ServiceNot far from IGBIS, in Sungai Buloh, is the MRCEC school for refugee children from Myanmar. Once a month our Grade 6 students host a group of students from MRCEC at IGBIS. During PHE class, our students collaborate, develop their leadership skills and build relationships with the refugee students as they organise sporting activities in the gym and swimming activities in the pool. The activities are conducted under the careful guidance and supervision of Mr Fowles and other IGBIS and MRCEC staff. The UN volunteer office staff are as pleased as we are to have established this partnership, which we are reliably informed is the first of its kind in Malaysia. We look forward to further developing our partnership with the UNHCR and MRCEC school in the months and years ahead.

I am sharing with permission a copy of a letter from Ms Edwina Tan, one of the UNHCR volunteers at MRCEC:

Dear Mr Fowles,

Thank you very much for the wonderful extracurricular afternoon enjoyed by the Myanmar refugee children today, and for the considerable preparation and effort that ensured everything went so well.

Our grateful thanks go particularly to the year 6 students of IGBIS. They deserve much credit for their warm hospitality and friendship towards the refugee children. Some strong leadership skills were observed.

It is a demanding task to keep 26 little boys and girls who are beginners in English language safely and happily occupied for two hours. Many an adult would be unequal to the challenge!  However your students really rose to the occasion and their mothers and fathers should be extremely proud of them.

I am forwarding a few photos taken during the afternoon; more are included in a subsequent mail. Please feel free to make use of them as you see fit.

We look forward to returning in May with our older students.

Best wishes,

Edwina Tan

UNHCR Volunteer

Phil Clark,
Middle Years Programme Coordinator

Works Cited: International Baccalaureate Organisation. MYP: From Principles into Practice. Cardiff: IBO, 2014. Print.

Maurice Gleitzman. Boy Overboard. London: Penguin, 2003. Print.

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