For over 30 years, the Aga Khan Foundation has worked on a variety of integrated development activities, including enhancement of education quality.AKDN’s education efforts in Eastern Africa have largely been the work of the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). These efforts arose initially as a response to unmet educational needs during the colonial era. Literacy classes in small community centres started in the early 1900s. Growing in number and size over the next decades, at their peak in the 1960s there were 65 Aga Khan schools in East Africa. The schools were the first to open their doors to students of all cultures.
Independence in Kenya increased educational opportunities but also presented challenges. Schools were nationalized; later private Aga Khan Schools opened in the late 1960s in Mombasa and Nairobi to cater to students who could not get into nationalised or government schools. AKES currently operates 11 schools in the country.
The Madrasa Programme
Helping parents and communities to provide a positive and early start for their children is a major concern of the AKDN. Through its Madrasa Pre-School Programme, the Aga Khan Foundation is supporting the creation of locally owned early childhood centres in Kenya, as well as Tanzania and Uganda.
The Programme was first implemented in 1986 in Mombasa, after Muslim leaders from Kenya’s coastal region requested assistance in improving the overall level of educational achievement of their children. A study commissioned by His Highness the Aga Khan revealed that the limited access to early childhood education in predominantly coastal Muslim communities could be linked back to the early years. The Aga Khan Foundation concluded early childhood education was the key, and worked with local educators, community leaders and parents to create four pilot Madrasa pre-schools in Mombasa, Kenya.
These pilot schools would later specialise in a holistic approach to early childhood development guided by a curriculum that integrated key religious values and teachings. It was a model that would later be replicated throughout other schools in East Africa to benefit tens of thousands of students, teachers and community members -- Muslims as well as an increasing number of children and adults from other faiths.
its Madrasa Pre-School Programme, the Aga Khan Foundation is supporting
the creation of locally owned early childhood centres in Kenya, as well
as Tanzania and Uganda.Since its inception, the Programme, anchored
by Madrasa Resource Centres (MRC), has assisted poor communities to establish,
manage and support sustainable quality pre-schools offering holistic development
opportunities to young children. The Centres train teachers and school management
committee members, delivers continuous on-site support and builds community
awareness on the importance of Early Childhood Development. It also engages
actively with Government and relevant civil society organisations in the
creation of policies and sharing of good practices regarding young children’s
education and development.
Since 1986, MRCK has trained over 500 Madrasa community pre-school teachers and has benefited nearly 7,800 students. MRCK has trained over 675 school management committee members (47 percent women) and more than 125 community resource team members (69 percent women). As of 2007, MRCK was working with over 75 community pre-schools throughout Kenya with nearly 2,900 students enrolled (48 percent girls).
In the interests of sustainability, the Kenya Graduate Association has established an endowment fund which provides dividends to member communities for the purpose of improving the quality of education. The Madrasa Resource Centre in Kenya has also linked communities to credit facilities such as the Kenya Women Trust Fund and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, which help successful applicants start up income-generating activities in the agriculture and retail sectors.
For more information, please see the brief on the Madrasa programme.
School Improvement Programmes
School Improvement Programmes (SIP), launched by AKES during the 1990s, are strengthening the quality of teaching and resources in Kenya, as well as Tanzania and Uganda. Teachers benefit from the training workshops and resource centres set up under these programmes. SIPs are helping teachers to teach more creatively and children to learn faster through the introduction of child-centred activities. They involve working hand in hand with governments while involving parents and communities in management in order to make schools more efficient, effective and sustainable.
Aga Khan Academy selects students of promise, good character and serious
intent, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.Aga
Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa began operating in August 2003, on a 18-acre (7.3 hectares) site in the Kizingo area of Mombasa. The state of the art facility, inspired by Swahili architecture, is the first of a network of 18 planned Academies offering the highest international standards of pre-primary, primary and secondary education to students across East Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia.
Admission to the Aga Khan Academy is based on merit. The Aga Khan Academy selects students of promise, good character and serious intent, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Merit is defined broadly as a student’s overall potential, not just his or her exam results. The Academy selects a diverse student body as part of its mission to educate future leaders with a pluralistic sensibility.
The Academy offers a broad, multi-disciplinary curriculum of the highest international standards, with an emphasis on the humanities. Through the implementation of the globally recognized International Baccalaureate programme, the school aspires to produce graduates who have developed not only a strong capacity and desire to learn, but a pluralistic outlook and understanding of the world around them. Through the curriculum, student life, and community involvement, graduates of the Academy become lifelong learners, with the knowledge and strength of character to face the myriad obstacles and issues facing the world today with informed judgment and compassionate leadership.
For more information, please see the Academy pages.
International Academic Partnership
The International Academic Partnership (IAP) has benefited Kenyan schools through faculty exchanges and enhancements in library and information technology resources, in the application of computer-assisted learning and in innovative approaches to teaching subjects such as English, science, mathematics and economics. IAP’s objectives are to promote global education and student-centred teaching, with a particular focus on professional development for teachers and curriculum innovation. Since its founding in 1993, IAP has linked over 400 schools in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States.
Professional Development of Teachers
The Aga Khan University has been operating a US$ 20 million long-term initiative to address the quality of teaching and learning in Eastern Africa through the establishment of an Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) in Mombasa, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Founded in 1993 in Karachi, Pakistan, AKU-IED has promoted activity-based learning and reflective practice – as opposed to the existing norm of rote learning – as a way of preparing students and their teachers for the knowledge-based societies of the 21st century. By working closely with governments and local institutions, and with participation from teachers and administrators in government and private schools, the initiative works to help practising teachers and education administrators upgrade their skills and acquire new knowledge on how to teach and what to teach. It works to empower school heads, as well as officials in government departments, to change, enrich and make curricula more relevant so that school leavers will be better prepared.
When these teachers return to their villages and towns, many of them in remote areas of the country, they carry with them innovative methods for raising quality in classrooms, improving school management, and introducing relevant pedagogy, curricula and assessment. Through a “multiplier effect”, these graduates have had an impact well beyond their numbers. This component of the Aga Khan University is responsible not only for the professional development of teachers in Kenya, but throughout the region.
In Kenya, AKU offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Teacher Education and a Certificate in Education (formerly known as Visiting Teacher Programme) in five curriculum areas. The eight-week Certificate in Education programmes are aimed at enhancing the quality of classroom teaching and learning. In addition, a School-Based Visiting Teacher Programme aims to increase the application, and thereby the impact, of the methods of the visiting teacher programmes. The initiative focuses on improving the teaching of English, mathematics, science, social studies and primary education.
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