Learning about the World
Does your youngster know about the International Certificate Program (ICP)? Offered by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), it’s a high school option that provides learners with a global perspective as well as opportunities to expand their horizons.
Piloted at six high schools in 2012-2013, this year 20 schools are onboard and over 100 graduates are expected. “We are now mentoring other school boards in Ontario who are looking to pilot their own version of the program,” notes Kathy Scheepers, OCDSB International Education Coordinator. Kathy answers questions about the program.
What’s unique about it?
The ICP is an equitable and accessible program meant to formally recognize students who have gone above and beyond in the pursuit of global citizenship and intercultural awareness—both of which are key components in 21st century education. Students enrolled in the program have access to opportunities, locally, nationally and internationally, of which they might not otherwise be aware. This is managed through volunteer teacher advisors at each ICP school as well as through an e-learning site called the D2L: Desire2Learn. The requirement to study an international language (other than English or French) increases student engagement in the field of language learning, which is highly valued in today’s globalized marketplace.
The OCDSB’s International Certificate Program provides teens with lots of opportunities
The Ontario Ministry of Education has selected the OCDSB to pilot an intercultural exchange project with our Chinese sister province of Jiangsu, and the ICP was an integral part of this selection. Twenty OCDSB students participated in a two-week cultural immersion project in China during the summer of 2015; the majority of those students are enrolled in the ICP.
What has been the response to the ICP?
Students, teachers, parents and community stakeholders have embraced it. Many organizations and institutions are connecting with the program in order to provide additional pathways and opportunities for these globally engaged youth.
In 2014, the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s Board of Directors awarded the OCDSB and OCENET (the OCDSB’s international partner) the Comprehensive Internationalization Award.
What are the advantages of being in the program?
Enrollees have access to an e-Learning site that is dedicated to keeping them up-to-date on local, national and international opportunities that might otherwise get overlooked. It’s a one-stop shop for language learning, intercultural exchange and global citizenship networking opportunities. The ICP has opened up several community partnerships in the Ottawa area and we hope to continue advocating for student involvement in multiple capacities. For students not otherwise able to study an international language (due to school timetable or extracurricular conflicts), we have an online option as well. As for post-secondary bursaries and scholarships, the ICP can provide a boost to an application that seeks evidence a student has gone above and beyond their high school graduation requirements. In 2014 we launched “study abroad” bursaries in the amount of $1000 to support students willing to apply for an academic exchange or summer abroad opportunity.
Has the ICP had an influence on students’ choices for post-secondary education?
Yes. Several of our 2015 graduates applied (and were accepted) to Carleton University’s Global and International Studies program. One of these graduates received the inaugural Carleton University ICP Award. Other students have expressed interest in pursuing degrees with an international focus.
What would you like people to know?
The ICP is much more than a checklist; it’s a comprehensive program that expects and encourages enrollees to be active participants over the course of their high school journey. Endless opportunities are available to those willing to challenge themselves and explore beyond their own cultural lens.
See http://www.ocdsb.ca/programs/int/Pages/icp.aspx for details.