Kampala, Uganda, 22 August 2007 - His Highness the Aga Khan today said “people power” was vital for economic growth in developing countries. He was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new Aga Khan Academy in Kampala, which joins a network of high-quality schools that will provide world-class education to exceptional students from across the developing world.
The ceremony was attended by His Excellency the Vice President of Uganda, Professor Gilbert Bukenya, as well as other dignitaries, including the Minister of Education and Sports and heads of Uganda’s preeminent universities and secondary schools. The Director General of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, Jeffrey Beard, was also present at the event.
Reflecting on yesterday’s ceremony marking the beginning of construction of Uganda’s new hydroelectric power plant, the Aga Khan said that the potential power of both forms of energy - physical and human - must be harnessed to drive future development. He stressed that investment in physical development has to be accompanied by an effort to educate leaders. “If economic growth propels us down a road for which future leaders are not prepared, then we will never sustain our advances,” he said.
The Aga Khan Academy, Kampala is the third Academy that will be established in the East Africa region and the first in Uganda. The school is located on a 44 acre plot on the shores of Lake Victoria, some 18 km from the centre of Kampala.
The Aga Khan’s emphasis on education is in keeping with the long standing tradition established by his late grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, who began just a century ago, to build a network of 300 schools in this part of the world.
The Aga Khan Academies education is built on the framework of the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) programmes. The IB is renowned for preparing students for admission to the best universities in their own countries and abroad. Enhanced by academic, co-curricular and international exchange elements unique to the network of Academies, this educational programme will play an important part in nurturing students who can adapt and thrive in a world of rapid change, as well as make informed judgments on life’s daily challenges.
The leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims said the Kampala Academy represents an effort to prepare the most talented for future leadership positions. “As students seek to enter the Academies programme, they will be judged on merit, not by their financial resources. As students leave this programme, they will move on to quality universities – and then to positions of social leadership,” he said.
“We expect many of our Kampala graduates to become pillars of Ugandan public and private institutions, a homegrown cadre of leadership,” he added.
The first Aga Khan Academy opened in the Kenyan city of Mombasa in 2003, and produced its first cohort of IB Diploma graduates in June. The overall average of the Mombasa students was nearly two points above the global average for the exams. Two of the 22 students who took the exams scored in the top 3 percent of the 180,000 exam takers globally, and 4 of them were in the top 10 percent.
The Aga Khan Academies are committed to providing the highest quality education and to providing relevant and rewarding professional development programmes for Academy teachers and teachers from government and other schools. A Professional Development Centre (PDC) for teachers will be an integral component of the school and will be established even before students enroll. “We will put the horse before the cart, where it should be, confident that good teachers and best practices will radiate out from this Centre into the wider world of education,” stated the Aga Khan.
The Aga Khan is ending his 12-day visit to East Africa tomorrow. The visit is the first of his Golden Jubilee visits around the world during which he will announce and inaugurate various social development and economic projects. Throughout his East African visit, the Aga Khan has placed emphasis on the importance of establishing health and educational institutions of world-class standards.
Last week, as part of his continued efforts towards excellence in healthcare and education, he announced a US $ 700 million project to build a new Faculty of Health Sciences of the Aga Khan University (AKU), as well a new East African campus in the Tanzanian city of Arusha over the next 15 years. The Arusha campus will serve students from all over the region, becoming the East African Community’s first regional university campus.
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Aga Khan Academies
Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
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The Aga Khan Development Network
His Highness the Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social development is in excess of US$ 300 million.
Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan
His Highness the Aga Khan completed his 50th year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on 11th July 2007, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah. The Aga Khan leads a community of 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries around the world and is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). In the Ismaili tradition, the Imam’s Jubilee celebrations offer occasions to launch new social, cultural and economic development projects. In keeping with the ethics of the faith, these projects aspire to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society. During the Jubilee year, the Aga Khan is expected to travel to a number of countries to meet with members of the Ismaili community and visit projects of the AKDN. He is also likely to announce the creation of new development institutions and projects and the significant expansion of existing ones.