Marie Vivas is the IB Americas University Relations Manager. She has overall responsibility for university recognition in the Americas region, working closely with admissions professionals counseling university bound students.
By Marie Vivas
Last week I was working hand in hand with ASOBITICO, the Association of IB World Schools in Costa Rica. It was quite a hectic week so I was grateful to be in a country with lots of excellent organic coffee to keep me going!!
ASOBITICO is a different kind of IB World Schools Association. Their mission is to bring the IB Diploma Programme to public schools in Costa Rica. They have sought out private funding from corporations and non-profits to help support their goals. They have also obtained support and recognition from the Costa Rican Ministry of Education, which has designated the IB Diploma as an alternative pathway to fulfilling the national high school graduation requirements. This is a very exciting recognition achievement in our region, and I salute their team for their tremendous success in this area.
Prior to my arrival, ASOBITICO had been quite busy coordinating a recognition blitz that began with a meeting hosted by UNIRE, the Association of Costa Rican Private University Presidents. At the UNIRE office, we met with admissions directors and deans from 15 private universities who were interested to learn more about the IB. After our presentation, many of the university officials expressed an interest in working closely with the IB and ASOBITICO on establishing strong recognition policies, and recruiting IB students.
After the general meeting, we visited ULACIT. ULACIT is a private university that is very enthusiastically working with the IB to serve Diploma graduates. They offer scholarships and advanced standing to students who have completed the IB Diploma. When we arrived they presented us with this publication for IB students!
We also met with the Academic Dean of ULATINA of the Laureate Group. They are very interested in IB students, and are reviewing our subject guides and curriculum briefs so they can establish a competitive recognition policy.
After a full day of meetings we had a meet and greet with IB school directors and diploma coordinators from the entire country. The reception at Lilliana Lloyd’s lovely home was a great opportunity to get to know the people who really keep the IB alive in Costa Rica. There is a great deal of idealism in this group that brings together the top international and private schools with urban and rural public high schools to promote excellence in education. It was exciting to hear about their collaboration on CAS projects and their shared experiences. As one public school director explained, once the students start working together, they realize that they have a lot in common because of their IB experience.
I spent my second day in Costa Rica at the campus of the Universidad de Costa Rica. UCR is one of the top public universities in the country and is in the top 25 in Latin America according to the QS Schools Rankings. Daniel Samper from ASOBITICO and I did tandem presentations about the IB and IB Diploma schools in Costa Rica to the Deans of the various undergraduate schools. This was a lively meeting where we answered many excellent questions about the IB curriculum and assessment. The atmosphere was very positive. The Academic Vice-President of UCR will be working with us during the next few months to craft an IB recognition policy that we hope will serve as a model for other public universities in Costa Rica.
The last day I got to have some fun at a Counselor Breakfast hosted by ULACIT. We had a great turnout of about 50 counselors, coordinators and school directors, including my dear friend John Carpenter from UWC Costa Rica.
As I reflect upon my time in Costa Rica, I must say that I was pleased to see colleagues who are passionate about the IB, and who truly embody the ideals of our organization. A group of IB schools and IB graduates decided that students from disadvantaged backgrounds should have access to a world class education. They came together and raised funds from the private and public sectors. They achieved a partnership with the Ministry of Education and obtained recognition for the IB Diploma. Now, they are moving forward with our support in the area of university recognition. As I enjoyed lunch with Daniel, an IB graduate from one of the top private schools in Costa Rica, Alejandra, a graduate from the first public school IB Diploma cohort, and Elenilzon, a UCR math professor turned IB coordinator, turned Academic Director of ASOBITICO, I realized that great partnerships are the key to our success. And Costa Rica is setting the bar quite high.