Students flock to IB programs

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International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are flourishing in Norway, and the Bjørnholt school at Mortensrud in Oslo recently became the 20th school in the country to offer the IB curriculum. More homework and instruction in English have not discouraged its 17 new students.

The IB program at the Berg high school in Oslo was the first in Norway. PHOTO: Sven Goll

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, founded in Switzerland in 1962, differs from the Norwegian videregående secondary school, and its popularity reflects the increasingly international communities throughout Norway. IB courses are more intensive, lasting two rather than three years, and often appeal to parents and their children with an international background themselves.

IB focuses on six subjects in addition to the theory of knowledge. Three are science- and mathematics-oriented and three are language, philosophy, social science or art subjects. An IB diploma is considered a good way to get into prestigious universities with high entrance requirements.

Berg Videregående school is the oldest IB school in Norway and currently has 105 students. In recent years, schools in Kongsberg, Kristiansand and Fredrikstad have also started IB programs. The expansion is in line with the growing interest that both students and parents have shown for studying abroad.

This autumn there are some 1,500 students taking IB courses in Norway, reports newspaper Aftenposten. The most well-established IB schools in Oslo and Stavanger are experiencing a steady growth in the number of applicants.

“Getting schools certified for teaching IB is a demanding task,” IB coordinator Elisabeth Edding told Aftenposten.  Norway has only one IB school north of Trondheim, at Finnsnes. It attracts many of its students from the local Russian community.

The 17 students at the new school at Bjørnholt come from seven different countries. English is their common language. Most of the studentbody lives in the Oslo suburb of Søndre Nordstrand, known for its high percentage of immigrants.

“We want to be able to offer a good program to those of our students who have high academic ambitions,” principal Petter Yttereng told Aftenposten.

“I want to study at a good university abroad,” says Chanelle Olsen, whose mother is Canadian. Kingsley Asiedo from Wales has also chosen IB because he has set his sights on studying at a university with an international reputation.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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