SINGAPORE - Students from Singapore who sat the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma examinations last November have outperformed their global counterparts once again.
Their average score was 40.6 out of 45, higher than the global average of 32.37, as well as the Asia-Pacific average of 37.02.
More than half of this year's perfect scorers - 133 out of 238 - came from Singapore. Ever since it joined the two-year pre-university programme in 2005, the Republic has consistently produced more than half of the top scorers worldwide at the IB's November exam sitting.
Of the 2,156 students here who took the November exam, 99.15 per cent passed, compared with 87.02 per cent globally and 95.13 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Switzerland-based IB Organisation, which conducts the exams, said that 1,062 students in Singapore attained scores of 40 and above.
Students from schools such as School of the Arts, Singapore (Sota), Singapore Sports School, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St Joseph's Institution (SJI) received their IB results on Tuesday (Jan 4).
A total of 18 schools in Singapore conducted the IB diploma examinations in November. This includes the international school arms of ACS, SJI and Hwa Chong.
ACS (Independent)'s class of 2021 - 441 students - obtained 100 per cent passes and a record performance for the school.
The cohort's average score was 42.7, up from 41.8 the previous year and 41 in the year before that.
Of the 441 students, 403 obtained 40 points or higher, while 365 had a score of between 42 and 45.
One of ACS(I)’s perfect scorers was Benjamin Sin, 18, who went through a tough time when his father had a relapse of leukaemia last February.
“He was first diagnosed in 2018, went through cancer treatment, and recovered. This time, when he relapsed, it was more aggressive,” Benjamin said.
“It honestly felt like I was 15 again, going through the same emotions of shock and hurt. But I was a lot more prepared for the added responsibilities I would have at home, while juggling my academics.”
After some tests, Benjamin was found to be a suitable donor for a stem cell transplant for his father. This treatment is used to restore healthy bone marrow in patients with leukaemia.
“I jumped at the chance to be able to help out in any way I could. It was the least I could do,” he said.
He took two weeks off from school to prepare for the blood donation. This involved daily injections for a week, dealing with side effects such as headaches, muscle and joint aches, and multiple hospital visits to make sure he was ready.
“We’re relieved that my dad is now cancer-free, although full recovery from cancer takes time,” said Benjamin, who hopes to study medicine locally.
“I hope to specialise in hematology and oncology because of my dad and how personal this experience has been to me,” he added.
All 156 Sota students who took the IB examinations last year passed, with those in the diploma programme obtaining an average score of 41.1 points. More than half of them scored 42 points and above.
At SJI, all 269 IB diploma students passed, with an average score of 42.1 out of 45. A majority of them, or 230 students, had 40 or more points.
SJI principal Justin Arul Pierre said: "The Class of 2021 has demonstrated how resilience, determination, effort and great faith in their ability to overcome challenges can produce good results, despite the various disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We have witnessed the hard work put in by the students from this cohort, many of whom have attained exceptional results despite their heavy commitments in various national competitions and student leadership responsibilities."
Hwa Chong International School reported a 100 per cent pass rate, with an average score of 39.6. Six students scored a perfect 45, and 51.7 per cent of the cohort attained scores of 40 and above.
ACS (International) also recorded full passes, with an average score of 39.17. Nearly half of its 167 IB diploma students had scores of 40 or more, and seven students attained perfect scores of 45.
Globally, more than 16,800 students took the IB exams last November, including nearly 6,300 students in the Asia-Pacific region.
Arif Arman Khan Akhter Ali Khan, 18, who studied theatre at Sota and attained 40 points, said the curriculum opened his eyes to social issues.
“Previously, I always thought theatre was just about performance - a form of escape or fun,” he said. But Sota exposed him to issues like racism and poverty, and allowed him to explore how theatre could be a vehicle for social change.
For example, a second-year assignment was to build a performance based on a newspaper article. His group chose the subject of domestic abuse.
“We usually hear about domestic violence as a black-and-white issue, but we wanted to show different perspectives from family members involved and the vulnerabilities in each character that lead them to this situation,” he said.
“Our message was that there are many factors that play a role in domestic abuse, and we can look out for early warning signs before situations escalate.”
Other themes he has worked on in his performances include drug addiction among teenagers and the lives of refugees.
Arif, who hopes to read psychology at Cardiff University, hopes to study how people are inclined to feel and behave in certain ways.
“I want to hopefully contribute to a more open conversation about mental health, especially among the younger generation,” he said.
In a statement, Mr Olli-Pekka Heinonen, director-general of the IB, said: "The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging for our students, teachers and schools."
He said that IB students in Singapore have shown resilience, adaptability and commitment during the course of their examinations.
"The IB is deeply grateful to educators who have supported our students along the way throughout their learner journey. The dedication that Singaporean teachers have shown is inspiring, and I'm incredibly proud and honoured to see our nation's young people being guided by mentors that share the IB's mission of education for a better world," he added.
Due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the IB had given schools assessment options for their students, including written examinations if they could be administered safely and an alternative route using coursework and predicted grades.
"The IB has ensured that student grades are fair, valid and comparable irrespective of whether their school was able to run examinations or not," said the organisation.