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The Social Welfare Department (SWD), located within the Aga Khan's Secretariat in France, is responsible for the development, management and coordination of quality education for peoples of all faiths and origins in specific areas of the developing and developed world. The services are planned, organised, and financed primarily through national service companies and boards, which operate facilities and programmes in close collaboration with other AKDN institutions, government agencies, and selected external partner agencies. The national service companies are officially registered as not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations in each country of operation. Their international sponsor is the Aga Khan Education Services S.A., which is incorporated as a not-for-profit company in Geneva, Switzerland.

SWD coordinates the activities of the national service companies primarily through five-year plans, ten-year projections, the annual budget submissions, and the provision of technical assistance to country programmes and institutions. The services, facilities, and programmes of the companies are funded through local fees charged for services, community support, international donors, and contributions from His Highness. The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) assists the national service companies to seek funding and technical assistance from international and local donor agencies for appropriate development of service delivery initiatives.

The sponsoring company in Geneva appoints the Chairman and some or all of the directors of the boards of the service companies. Regional, community and institutional committees are established to facilitate planning, operations and funding activities of the national boards. All board members serve as volunteers on an unremunerated basis.

The strength of the AKES system is founded on the volunteer governance and community support of the AKES network. The national service companies plan, implement and support appropriate educational services. Each board appoints a Chief Executive Officer, who is responsible for managing all aspects of the programmes. AKES focuses upon employing cost-effective and efficient management practices, investing in staff and teacher training, and striving for quality outputs. Every company has active internal and external annual audits. The faculty, parents, and children all play a vital role in the development and operation of AKES programmes. This synergy is supported by AKES's educational approach of enhancing academic instruction with a wide spectrum of extra-curricular activities. Collaborating with several educational partners, the Aga Khan Education Services' social development programmes contribute to positive educational change in the wider national community.

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