Interview with Siva Kumari and IB alumna in Singapore’s Chinese Business Daily

In an interview with Lianhe Zaobao in Singapore’s Chinese Business Daily on 13 April 2018, the IB’s Director General Siva Kumari shared her views on the importance of holistic student development and how students’ performance should not focus on grades alone.

During Siva’s one year stay in Singapore in 2009 as Regional Director for the IB’s Asia-Pacific region, she acquainted herself with Singapore’s education system. Now, nearly ten years later, she observed that Singapore appears to have now broken away from the excessive emphasis on academic performance and focused more on developing students’ creative thinking. 

Siva pointed out that in a drastically changing world where career requirements are always evolving, what children need is multi-faceted education to develop their ability to respond to changes. “We hope to develop students who are self-reliant, employable and confident to speak in any part of the world”, she says. “We believe that it is not only important to develop children’s knowledge and thinking ability, but also their independence and survival skills”, she continues.

Siva also emphasized the importance of ongoing understanding among different ethnic groups, and how learning a foreign language can help students connect with other cultures. “When you are learning a language, you are also learning the related culture. When children use two or three languages in their thinking process, their brain activity works differently from usual”, she explains. “That’s why we encourage students to take on studies of world literatures to get in touch with different cultures and appreciate them as much as possible.”

IB alumna Han Nguyen also reflects on her academic journey and believes that the IB has helped broaden her horizons.  Han was born in Germany and immigrated to Singapore with her family in her primary school years where she first attended a German school, and later entered United World Colleges where she followed the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for two years.

Han explains how the IB encouraged independence and creativity among students: “When I was studying at United World College, I had opportunities to connect with many people from diverse educational backgrounds. This gave me a better understanding of different cultures. The teachers often asked us to express our views in the classroom, and this gradually helped to develop our speaking skills and boost our self-confidence.”

Her IB experience motivated her to take on research work at the family court after graduating in law at Bond University in Queensland, rather than following the typical path of private legal practice.


Read the full article in Chinese here.