Aga Khan Development Network

Pakistan home



Microfinance & micro-insurance

Civil Society

Cultural Development

Rural Development

Other Countries


"The duty of responsible stewardship is very clear, a concept that can be equated to the notions of trust and trusteeship in today’s international legal terminology. The obligation to maintain the highest level of integrity in the management of donated resources, and of the institutions benefiting from them, is grounded in our faith."

His Highness the
Aga Khan, Conference on Indigenous Philanthropy, Islamabad, Pakistan (21 October 2000)


Today, in Pakistan, AKES operates 192 schools that educate over 36,000 students and employ over1,600 teachers.Today, in Pakistan, AKES operates 192 schools that educate over 36,000 students and employ over1,600 teachers.Education activities pre-date the existence of AKDN institutions, going back to the creation, by His Highness the Aga Khan’s grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, of community-based literacy centres for girls in villages scattered across the remote Karakorum Mountains in the late 1940s. In 1946, to commemorate Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah’s sixty years as Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Community, Diamond Jubilee Schools were established for girls across Pakistan’s Northern Areas and Chitral District.

Diamond Jubilee Schools are today typically leaders in their region. Most have, since the 1980s, been housed in new physical premises built under a self-help School Construction Programme launched by the Aga Khan Educational Services (AKES) with the assistance of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). Local community initiative and contributions are matched with skilled resources in the use of seismic-proof design modules adapted to local conditions.

Field-Based Teacher Development Programmes
Field-Based Teacher Development Programmes that prepare teachers without formal education for government certification, and the opening of two role model secondary schools for girls (the Aga Khan School, Sherqilla (in 1983) and the Aga Khan School, Karimabad (in 1986)), underpin the academic standards of female education across the AKES system in the region. Both the Self-help School Construction Programme and the Field-Based Teacher Development Programme have been replicated by schools all across northern Pakistan.

In every setting, AKES puts special emphasis on improving educational practice and management in diverse and challenging settings.In every setting, AKES puts special emphasis on improving educational practice and management in diverse and challenging settings.Today, in Pakistan, AKES operates 192 schools that educate over 36,000 students and employ over1,600 teachers. In every setting, AKES puts special emphasis on improving educational practice and management in diverse and challenging settings; child-centred teaching methods; female education; and school-based teacher training.

In Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces, AKES has introduced programmes to upgrade curricula and improve the quality of teaching, in addition to establishing schools in Gwadar, Hyderabad and Karachi. Taken together, the educational institutions in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh form the core of South Asia’s largest private education network.

Training was launched in Pakistan's Northern Areas in 1983. School improvement experiments began at the same time in Sindh province in Pakistan, where AKES introduced child-centred teaching methods. Supported by AKF and the Aga Khan University (AKU), some of these experiments have been carried out in government schools as well as AKES institutions, thereby contributing to the overall improvement of education.

AKF has also implemented or funded several education programmes designed to ensure access and improve quality in primary and secondary schools. Notable programmes include the Northern Pakistan Education Programme, which worked to increase access to education, enhance its quality and ensure that improvements were sustainable in the long-term. Another programme, Releasing Confidence and Creativity, promoted practices and structures in communities, schools, NGOs and the government that effectively promote Early Childhood Development (ECD), a major thrust of AKF wherever it works. The programme, which was piloted in Baluchistan and Sindh, was designed to identify best practices that could be replicated in other locations. It focused on building the skills of teachers and administrators, improving the physical environments of schools, engaging the community in school activities and exposing local government officials to the merits of ECD.

Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development
Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) was created to provide a permanent institutional base that could sustain these and other initiatives in education. Founded in 1993, the Institute works for the development of educational systems in the developing countries, particularly Pakistan. Its major focus is on improving the performance of teachers, teacher educators and education managers belonging to public and private sector schools through professional development initiatives that lead to overall school improvement. Over 40 percent of AKU-IED graduates are from government schools in Pakistan. 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. In this way, they have a “multiplier” effect far larger than their sheer numbers.

Located in a purpose-built Professional Development Centre (PDC) in Karachi, AKU -IED functions as a training and support facility to channel expertise and the exchange of ideas amongst professional teachers, teacher educators and education managers.

The Graduate programmes include:

The professional programmes offered by AKU-IED include:

AKU-IED has also developed a network of Professional Development Centres (PDC) in Pakistan , Central Asia and East Africa and has supported the establishment of professional associations in a number of countries.

Examination Board
Increasing the effectiveness of education was the objective of a number of schools in Pakistan when they asked AKU to help create a new way of offering secondary and higher secondary school examinations. This led to the establishment of the Aga Khan University Examination Board, the first such service in the private sector in Pakistan. The Board held its first secondary school certificate examinations in 2007. The examinations will test the knowledge, understanding and application of exam takers, not just the prescribed content. An innovative e-marking system has been specially developed for the purpose - a first in Asia.

For more information, please see the Aga Khan University website.

Return to top