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IB Education in China

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The appetite of the Chinese for a good and prestigious education is growing and insatiable. With China gearing up as an international economic force, the education sector in China is transforming in tandem to welcome more international schools to prime students for overseas and local opportunities. What started as only 22 English-medium international schools in 2001, has grown to more than 500 today.

Among these schools, 243 are International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools offering an internationally-recognised education programme catering from Primary to Diploma students. This number easily translates to thousands of available teaching jobs in China. The first IB school in China was established in 1991.

With expatriates and locals vying for a spot in these international schools, teaching jobs in China are also on the rise to accommodate the growing demand of a billingual generation and workforce. Coupled with the drive to become one of the global capitals, private education from international schools are becoming more accessible in China.

What is International Baccalaureate?

The IB was first founded in 1968 and has developed a series of programmes to foster critical thinking skills, nurture curiously and build abilities to solve complex problems.

Schools must be authorised to teach the programme and can offer one or more of the 4 programmes. IB curriculum is an internationally transferable curriculum and targets primary and middle school-goers as well as offering their internationally-recognised Diploma certificate which is widely accepted by tertiary institutions across the world. The fourth programme is the Career-related Programme where students pursue employment and internships alongside their academic foray.

The IB Diplomas course is a popular choice among expatriates who may have to relocate often or local Chinese families who intend for their children to experience an overseas tertiary education pretty much anywhere in the world.

The IB Diploma programme is the best-known IB course and offers students aged 16 to 19 a full spectrum of regular curriculum as well critical thinking subjects such as the “Theory of Knowledge”. It is recognised among universities from over 90 countries which gives IB Diploma holders flexibility in tertiary institution applications.

The IB programme is also held in high regard for its tenacity in upholding consistent high standards of pedagogy. The IB programme is vigorous in updating their curriculum and take their time in assessing appropriate schools to teach the programme.

Teaching in an IB School

Teaching in an IB School commands one of the higher tiers of teaching salary in China. It also means that you are highly qualified and experienced. IB teachers are given autonomy to plan and execute their curriculum and lessons. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate open communication between students and themselves to build an environment that is focused on learning, collaboration, and exploration.

The rapid expansion across the education sector, fueled by the voracious demand for a fine education, creates a demand for decorated teachers who are looking for an opportunity to live and teach in China.

How do you qualify as an IB teacher?

As an IB certified teacher, it opens the doors to a myriad of teaching offers in some of China’s most prestigious international schools. Workshops are offered from the IB organisation to familiarise potential teachers with the values, philosophy, and pedagogy methods. The IB teacher training is offered through partnering universities and institutions for undergraduates. Upon the course completion, graduates can then apply for an IB educator certificate.

This is on top of regular requirements as a foreign teacher in China which includes the Z visa and the addition of the PU letter before your entrance in China.

Some differences between regular teacher vs a teacher in an international school

Typically, foreign teachers teaching in private institutions earn between 10,000RMB to 15,000RMB a month. International schools offer the highest salary range, between 12,000RMB to 30,000RMB monthly. As an IB teacher, it is likely that you are also offered along this range of monthly salaries.

As a teacher in a private school, the expected working hours are from Monday to Friday, with 16 to 25 hours a week. However, international school teachers are expected to work 40 hour work weeks and may be required to take up additional duties apart from teaching curriculum. While international schools offer much more attractive monthly packages, fewer benefits are included in view of the high monthly remuneration.

Naturally, expectations are raised in accordance to the salary offered.

There is no telling on whether it is better to be a IB certified teacher or not as it is largely dependent on your personal goals and desires. Teaching in China can be a fulfilling experience and lucrative as a highly qualified teacher. With a generally lower cost of living in China, the expatriate salary sustains a decent and comfortable lifestyle.

Moving Ahead

International schools are likely to maintain its current demand, undampened by the recent education reformations. This means that teaching jobs in China, especially in the International School sector, remains positive as China sees the benefit of a bilingual education. International schools, including those that offer IB programmes, will also have to be more inclusive of the national Chinese curriculum.

Since 2020, international schools are no longer exclusive and local children aged 7 to 15 also have a shot at attending such schools with a lottery system.

As a IB certified teacher, teaching in an IB World School in China in this season is dynamic and may have new challenges strewn along the way with COVID and reformations.

Regardless of the short term adjustments to accommodate, the IB course remains outstanding in its pedagogy philosophies and widely recognised among international universities. As an educator, you may consider to be IB trained on the onset as an undergraduate or make a career switch with a wealth of teaching experience under your belt.

Either way, whether you are IB certified or not, teaching in China is still a wonderful opportunity for you to seize. Apart from the international work experience, traveling into Asia from China is one of the greatest perks in seeing the world while working. Even as a regular teacher in China, you can still do so.

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