This guest article by David Massiah, new Headmaster at Dulwich College Yangon (DCY), shares why the IB Diploma is the best way for students to enter universities across the world.


I studied A-levels in one of England’s top private schools (Bedford School) and trained at Cambridge University with further studies in education with Harvard University and the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). I began my career teaching A-levels and have supported schools with different curriculum my whole career, spanning England, Israel, Peru, Chile and now Myanmar.  My recent schools have been leading top International Baccalaureate continuum schools from Kinder to grade 12.  I’m delighted to be joining Dulwich Yangon as it expands into IGCSEs and especially applies to start the IB Diploma Programme (IB DP).  DCY is a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and pursuing authorization as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy- a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education- that we believe is important for our students.

Why Dulwich College Yangon?

I’m really looking forward to joining the Dulwich College Yangon staff who are talented and experienced, beautiful campuses which are uniquely green, spacious with award winning architecture, and students who are so passionate and caring.  The class sizes are small and students are either day or boarding students.  We want to create a dynamic environment where every child is known, valued and positively challenged to excel, locally and internationally. Locally, Yangon and Myanmar presents so many beautiful sustainable opportunities. It has a growing economy and young democracy with so many rich opportunities for development that our students and staff benefit from.  The Myanmar people are so warm, kind, and academically focused as well.  These factors of excellent space, facilities and small student numbers also mean Dulwich College Yangon is uniquely positioned to deal with post Covid-19 concerns about social distancing while still giving the students a rich education.  All of our Senior School students have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of boarding in our high quality facility at the Star City Campus. There is research to show the positive experience of boarding for students, as they are self-reliant and well prepared for life at university and life after university. At DCY with the IB DP and boarding provision, we are able to offer a truly unique experience in this country.

How does Dulwich College Yangon make an international leading difference?

Internationally, the unique Dulwich College International network means that students and teaches get to benefit from working with students at the other Dulwich schools in Singapore, Seoul and China.  Dulwich College International (DCI) is the supporting management structure across all the schools that provide tremendous professional development opportunities for its staff as well.  The IB Diploma points average for DCI students is 36.6 points which is way above the World’s 30 point average and would also be the highest average in Myanmar as well.  We could also offer IB Myanmar which is not available in A-levels.  Furthermore, for parents thinking about shorter term contracts in Myanmar, the IGCSEs are a unique way to leave with international bench mark exam results that can take them anywhere in the world.  

The ‘Dulwich Difference’ is not just about creating students and teachers of excellence and leadership, but about making a difference, the Dulwich Difference is where excellence, leadership and service meet. As Myanmar grows I’m so excited to see Dulwich College Yangon be a catalyst for social development and leadership across the private, public and civic sectors.  Our students will be developing and bridging leadership, innovation and service across NGOs, embassies, councils, industries and other groups locally and internationally.  It’s why the Dulwich motto is ‘Building Bridges to the World’.  These bridges are being beautifully built from the inquiry based curriculum of the Early Years to the final year Dulwich IB graduates.

Even though I’m fortunate to have had some great teachers at school while studying A-levels, now, today, without doubt, the IB Diploma Programme is the best preparation for university, industry, developing well-rounded values and life-long skills.

 What do universities and industry want? 

One of my former IB students, Shanelle Grandez, recently achieved a first in International Business degree at university in England.  She then joined a national bank in her home country (Peru) and within months was presenting in the bank’s national convention presenting new sustainable practices.  

Another one of my former IB students, Dennis Chang, recently graduated from Stanford University in Science and Engineering. To graduate he had to create a successful start-up company.  To reduce the environmental damage and cost to companies, he created drone software technology that flew high to assess power cables and diagnose different damage and repair points.

You see, universities and industry want students who can be brilliant in key disciplines but can also think and work across sectors, where they can create innovate in ways that are financially and socially sustainable.  This is the world today, where we’re creating students in school to innovate and lead across sectors. Myanmar and Dulwich College Yangon is such a unique, beautiful, dynamic, nurturing place to do this.  

Why IB DP over A-levels and other programs? 

In the IB Diploma Programme, students have to work across 6 different subject areas developing that breadth and interacting development.  Yet, it also develops a rigor and depth that surpasses other programs like A-levels, where all students complete a 4000 word Extended Essay of independent research.  Furthermore, a unique level of critical thinking is developed through the course ‘Theory of Knowledge’.  Best of all are the tremendous values and skills developed through the revised CAS program (Creativity, Action and Service) where all students demonstrate how to project manage and create solutions to serve community needs. CAS is where the excellence, leadership and service meet at the heart of the program. 

What does the research say?

  • Research carried out by ACS International Schools, reveals: 
  • an IB diploma is the most respected post-16 qualification among university admissions officers. 62 per cent praise the IB for the way it encourages pupils to manage their own timetable, 78 per cent say it is harder to achieve a top IB grade than a top A-level grade. 
  • Harvard University, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Marilyn McGrath Lewis: “IB is well known to us for excellent preparation. Success in an IB program correlates well with success at Harvard.”
  • The 2016 study comparing A-levels and IB diploma by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) concluded:  
  • Analysis showed that IB diploma students were significantly more likely than their A level peers to attend a top 20 higher education institution in the UK,
  • Additionally, IB diploma students had a significantly greater likelihood of earning a first-class honours degree than did A level students. 

Leading private schools in Britain are increasingly offering IB Diploma alongside A-levels or even replacing A-levels. 

  • The ‘Employability skills in the IB DP study 2020’ by the Center for Curriculum Redesign, analysed the OECD competences for the market place and concludes that the IB program strongly integrates the top 12 competencies.
  • A Study of the post-secondary outcomes of IB DP alumni in leading universities in Asia-Pacific (2017), University of Canberra, University of Hong Kong and University of Virginia:
  • On average DP alumni reported higher capacities for a variety of 21st-century skills compared to their non-DP counterparts. IB graduates were also highly positive about their DP learning experiences as preparation for higher education and the development of key skills.” 

In Asia there is a lot of focus on Maths and Science.  

  • The National Recognition Information Centre, United Kingdom (UK NARIC), 2016 concluded: 
  • IB’s further mathematics HL was determined to be the most cognitively demanding course of the curriculums examined, followed by A level Further Mathematics and Singapore H3 Mathematics respectively. 
  • The Alberta Diploma and the DP are unique in their inclusion of international or global dimensions.
  • IB DP offers the greatest number of mathematical course options for students with different needs. 
  • Lastly, the DP courses allow for the most detailed level of differentiation in student achievement by grade.  

The IB Diploma is the best way for students to enter universities across the world.

At Dulwich College Yangon we welcome supporting every child achieve their potential.  I look forward to seeing students become international minded, academically successful, well-rounded service leaders who can innovate across the community.


Written by:
David Massiah, new Headmaster at Dulwich College Yangon (DCY), winner of the ESU (English Speaking Union) Global Best Teacher Award 2020, who joins DCY to introduce IGCSEs and the IB Diploma Programme.



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