Mombasa, Kenya, 21 February 2003 - “Africa and the developing world can help create centres of educational excellence that will at the same time, be international and indigenous, and that will help mould young men and women from all walks of life and all parts of the world into the leaders of tomorrow.”
His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, yesterday evening completed his visit to two major education campuses being developed by the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) in Kenya. Following an extensive tour of the site of the Nairobi campus to be set amidst coffee plantations on the edge of the Nyari Estate, the Aga Khan toured the Aga Khan Academy in Kilindini on a south-western promontory of Mombasa Island.
Already revealing the intricate outlines of a Swahili village, the 4.1 hectare Kilindini campus will integrate classrooms, libraries, state-of-the-art science and language laboratories, playing fields and a swimming pool into a fully networked, Internet-enabled academic environment. Landscaped amidst ancient baobab trees, overlooking the Indian Ocean, the school complex is designed, like others under development, by leading international and local architects.
In addition to Nairobi, and Mombasa, Antananarivo in Madagascar, Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kampala in Uganda, Khorog in Tajikistan, Maputo in Mozambique, Mumbai in India and Osh in the Kyrgyz Republic have already been designated locations for “centres of excellence.” These private, non-denominational institutions will admit students from the pre-primary to higher secondary levels on a merit-based, means-blind basis and will offer both national and international curricula. In addition to subsidising the costs of high quality education, each centre will offer scholarships for qualifying students.
Active in the field for nearly a century and pioneers in multi-cultural educational endeavours in parts of Africa and Asia, AKES and its predecessor institutions have sought continuously to meet contemporary challenges by making quality education accessible to wide publics. Centres of this kind will allow institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), with their emphasis on school improvement and professional development, to combine the experience of teaching and learning in the developing world with access to resources of the developed world. The Institute for Educational Development of the Aga Khan University (AKU-IED), established in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford and Toronto, hopes to be able to add its presence to these campuses through on-site Professional Development Centres. These campuses will also benefit from a decade-long International Academic Partnership (IAP) between AKES, AKU-IED and a leading US institution, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.
The centres of excellence will be supported by AKDN educational institutions ranging from AKU’s campuses in Asia, Africa and Europe, the University of Central Asia’s three campuses and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s humanities project, its music initiative, its global electronic community, ArchNet, and educational programmes at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
AKES operates over 300 educational institutions and programmes reaching over 54,000 students in Africa and Asia.
The Aga Khan Development Network, of which AKES is the specialised educational agency, is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve the quality of life and opportunities in specific regions of Africa and Asia. Active in over 20 countries, the Network’s is motivated by the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society, and its agencies and institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.
The Aga Khan, who has held extensive discussions with President Mwai Kibaki and senior Government Ministers during his visit, leaves Kenya today.