History of the School
International College, one of the largest and oldest international schools in the world, was founded in Smyrna – Turkey in 1891 as a missionary school. In 1936, The American University of Beirut which at that time was called the Syrian Protestant College, invited International College to come to Beirut to affiliate as their Preparatory School. This is why for a long time, IC was called the “Prep”. During its first year in Beirut, IC welcomed 901 students from 37 countries and 16 religious sects. Very soon after that, they started a French section which was called “Section Francaise” and that is how the dual track developed at IC. Until 1960, IC was actually the prep school of AUB. Later, the two institutions split with independent board of trustees but maintained excellent relations making IC a dual track school.
Curriculum and Education
IC is trilingual, meaning that it teaches three languages (Arabic, English and French) at all levels from pre-school to the graduating class, but prepares its students for tertiary education either in French or in English.
The French track is either the Lebanese baccalaureate in all its options, or the French baccalaureate in all its options.
The English track is also either the Lebanese baccalaureate in all its options, or the high school program and recently in the last 7 or 8 years, the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The school has been accredited twice by two international bodies (Council of International School and New England Association for Schools and Colleges), once in 1996 and again last year. It is also accredited by the French government as an Ecole Homologuée, an institution that offers an accredited French program.
In the first accreditation, the team that came included 28 examiners from all over the world. They advised IC to consider the IB program. It was introduced at the high school level a couple of years after that. IC then introduced the primary program of the IB at the elementary school. Last year IC was officially authorized to offer the Primary Years Program (PYP) for preschool and elementary ages 3 – 11 years.
Mrs. Mourani continues, “The IB is extremely successful. It is an excellent program. Its constraints lie in the fact that if the student is Lebanese and does not have another nationality or is not exempted from Arabic, he/she cannot go into the IB program. Right now, the only foreign program that is recognized for Lebanese students is the French baccalaureate.”
IC students choose either the French or English track. The three languages are taught in both tracks right through. If the students are foreigners, they are taken as beginners in Arabic at whatever level they come in.
IC follows the class system rather than credit system. Schedules are composed of single 45 or 50 minute periods or blocks of double periods.
Mourani confirms that IC has a very rich program in arts, athletics, recreation games like chess and archery etc. Some of them are also offered within the curriculum like theater or music or visual arts. There are series of extracurricular electives where students can explore their fields of interest. The activities are part of the school’s program and no extra charges are imposed on the students.
Number of Students and Tuition Fees
IC currently has 3,400 students across all levels. According to Mrs. Mourani, this has been the case for the last 10 years at least. The number of students per class varies however. The mean of students per class, throughout the school is 22. At the secondary level, there can be a class of 4 students and there can be a class of 25. The mean at the preschool is 17.
The ratio of teachers is 10:1, with about 350 teachers. There are 150 staff members with the maintenance staff.
The tuition fees in the school vary from one level to another. It ranges this year was between 8.7 million and 10.2 million LBP. This includes the registration fees. The bus fees and book fees are separate.
Main Characteristics of IC
According to Mrs. Mourani, “IC is a school that is a 120 years old. It has a long tradition of commitment to diversity. All members of society are represented here. We have a very generous financial aid program that helps students who cannot afford of our fees to join. About 400 of our students benefit from financial aid based on needs. There is a minimum GPA that needs to be maintained, but it is based on needs rather than on academic performance. The average allocation of financial aid is 40%. Some students may be getting 20% while others may be getting 100%. If we were to count the faculty and staff children, then the number of students benefiting from aid is around 700. We are able to reflect a composition of the Lebanese community.
“Other than financial aid, we have incentive programs. For outstanding students, we have an award system. If they are in the top ten of their class or among the top ten in their level, then they get for example, financial support towards their books. We have a very rich system of prizes and awards in math, science, creativity, writing and others. We are able to recognize our outstanding students in that way.
As for the graduating class, we have awards like the Penrose Awards, McLachlan Award, Bassel Fleihan Award, IC Scholar Award. Penrose is for leadership, citizenship and academic excellence.
“McLachlan is service oriented. Bassel Fleihan is for academic distinction, leadership and service. This was established after Deputy Fleihan’s assassination in 2005 with PM Rafik Hariri. IC Scholar Award for the highest ranking student in the school.
“Our community service program and activities program make IC very special and unique. We are very proud of the music, performing arts and visual arts programs.
“We have outstanding teachers. We have an excellent professional development program that touches every level.
If you were to ask our students, they like to come to school. Part of it is because we treat our students with dignity. Our discipline system is based on mutual respect. We encourage students to be confident and to speak their minds appropriately. IC students take positions. We encourage them, but of course they have to respect the framework. It is all part of being good citizens.
“We have 65 nationalities in the school of all nationalities with the largest numbers being Americans and Canadians. About a third of our students were either born abroad or lived abroad and they have dual nationalities. A lot of them are a result of mixed marriages.”
Cooperation with other Schools
In terms of the cooperation with other schools, Mrs. Mourani continued, “We established a few years ago a network of schools (Principal’s Network). Around 20 schools were a part of this network. We share issues, as to how we handle certain problems. We have regular meetings once or twice a year. It is an informal network that doesn’t have any formal entity. It is a very nice sharing tool.
One of the things we do that is unique to IC is that we have an outreach program to the greater Lebanese community. We organize a number of workshops at the school with teachers coming in from all over Lebanon and other Arab countries. We publish a menu of workshops run either by IC teachers or by experts in the field.
This outreach program has another aspect to it, which is when we go to schools in areas difficult to reach in the Mohafazah of North-Lebanon, Mohafazah of Beqaa , etc and we hold full day workshops for the teachers at those schools. This is a program we are very committed to.”
IC is in two locations, Ras Beirut and Ain Aar. The facilities at both locations support the educational program through outdoor play spaces, libraries, technology labs, theatres, indoor play and recreation facilities, science labs and classrooms. The school has undertaken a master plan for both locations in an effort to keep providing superior facilities for decades to come.