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Reinventing High School Transcripts: The Learner Passport

By Dr. Conrad Hughes
Reinventing High School Transcripts: The Learner Passport

At the Ecole Internationale de Genève (Ecolint), our aim is to educate students to be “global citizens with the courage and capacity to create a just and joyful tomorrow together.” But what does it mean to be a global citizen and what do we mean by a just and joyful tomorrow?

Our work with our historical partners, UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, has led us to describe seven global competences that encapsulate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to flourish as a global citizen and to contribute to a better world. These are the competences that we look to nurture in every student, and which go well beyond test scores or grades:

  1. Lifelong learning: learning how to learn, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving, reflection, and innovation.
  2. Self-agency:  initiative, drive/motivation, endurance/grit/resilience, responsibility, entrepreneurship, accountability, self-management, exercising rights and responsibilities, self-value.
  3. Interactively using diverse tools and resources: impactful and efficient use of resources, responsible consumption, interfacing with tools.
  4. Interacting with others: teamwork, collaboration, negotiation, leadership, followership, conflict management, respect for others.
  5. Interacting with the world: balancing rights with responsibilities, balancing freedom with respect, balancing power with restraint, being local and global, environmental custodianship, global awareness.
  6. Multi-literateness:  reading and writing, numeracy, digital literacy, data literacy, technological literacy, coding, media literacy, financial literacy, cultural literacy, health literacy.
  7. Transdisciplinarity: mastery within and across STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts, the humanities, social sciences, religions, languages, and vocations.

There are many ways that we make these competences flourish in our students: through our unique Universal Learning Programme with its character, passion, and mastery projects, which develop initiative, drive, and endurance; through a transdisciplinary “Mission to Mars” project, which stimulates critical and creative thinking; through our Student League of Nations, which enhances global awareness and respect for others, and in myriad other ways.

We are not unique in our desire to educate the whole child, with many schools across the world aiming to develop similar competences, though when we invented the IB Diploma here at Ecolint in the 1960s, the approach was pioneering. All the IB programs now do this, for example, the Primary Years Programme Student Exhibition, with its emphasis on responsible action, the Middle Years Programme with its emphasis on interdisciplinary study and the Diploma Programme, with its broad and balanced curriculum, core of Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay, and CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service). All of these programs are designed with much more than academic scores in mind as an outcome.

However, when it comes to admitting students to tertiary education, most universities only ask for a grade transcript and personal statement along with recommendations. All the work on creativity, thinking across subjects, developing responsibility, and citizenship that has been a core part of every child’s education is not looked at. The time has come to present universities with a much fuller story, one that truly reflects the breadth and depth of a quality education.

This is why we have designed our Ecolint Learner Passport: to take the story of learning all the way to the end of Secondary School so that universities accept students on a broader range of criteria.

The Ecolint Learner Passport allows students to gain credit for areas of competence development in the curriculum (academic subjects and class projects) and outside the curriculum (extra curriculars, vocational work, hobbies, and passion). Each credit area, in describing a global competence, tells the story of how students have grown, who they are, and what makes them stand out.

Working with other like-minded schools across the globe, we have created the Coalition to Honour All Learning, which is federating other schools and universities to join this movement, which recognises that students are so much more than a number or a grade. The Ecolint Learner Passport is a movement to celebrate the whole child.

To find out more about the Ecolint Learner Passport or to join the Coalition, contact [email protected].

Originally published on 


Conrad Hughes (PhD, EdD) designs and implements educational systems for the future. He is Campus and Secondary Principal at the International School of Geneva, La Grande Boissière, the oldest international school in the world where he also teaches philosophy. He holds two doctorates.

Hughes led two major projects with UNESCO-IBE to rethink the guiding principles for learning in the 21st Century and preventing violent extremism through education. He has published three books on different aspects of 21st Century learning. Understanding Education and Prejudice (2017) looks at how schools and universities can reduce prejudicial thinking in students and instructors; in Educating for the 21st Century (2019), he investigates how educational systems can address societal challenges such as sustainability, the rise of AI, post-truth politics, mindfulness and future-proof knowledge. His latest book, Education and Elitism (2021), discusses how access to high quality education can be widened.

Hughes has implemented these ideas on the ground in his school and through open-access online lessons, touching the lives of thousands of people.

Hughes is a member of the advisory board for the University of the People, senior fellow of UNESCO's International Bureau of Education and research assistant at the University of Geneva's department of psychology and education. He is a regular contributor to the World Economic Forum’s Agenda blog and speaks in conferences across the globe.

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04/15/2022 - Bruce
Who is going to pay for all of the reading of this extra information that most universities today find (1) less predictive of success as they define their missions, and (2) increasingly inequitable, insofar as most schools do not have the staff available to make out these more complex transcripts?
04/14/2022 - Florence Y.
This article is fabulously written, its content is most pertinent. The universal passport is a fabulous idea and project. I feel fortunate to work under the supervision of a true universal education leader.
04/14/2022 - Florence Y.
This article is fabulously written, its content is most pertinent. The universal passport is a fabulous idea and project. I feel fortunate to work under the supervision of a true universal education leader.