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International Academic Centre of Excellence planned for Afghanistan: Aga Khan and Karzai discuss development priorities

Kabul, Afghanistan, 7 July 2004 – His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with H.E. Minister Younous Qanooni, Minister of Education in the presence of His Excellency President Karzai, to undertake the establishment of an Academy of Excellence in Education, in the country’s capital city, Kabul.

The Academy, which will be a member of the Aga Khan international network of Academies, will be dedicated to expanding access to education of an international standard of excellence. Admission will be based on students’ merit: their intellectual promise and evidence of their character and desire to learn. They will be selected without regard to their families’ ability to pay school fees. In Afghanistan, this means that bright and talented students who for economic reasons may not be able to access a high quality education, would now have access to education of the highest standards.

Through a curriculum based on the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Academy will educate young men and women from pre-primary through higher secondary education, and will prepare students to access the best universities in Afghanistan and abroad. In addition, through an international network of Academies, both students and teachers will have the opportunity to study and teach at Academies in other countries thereby gaining from international experience.

Furthermore, the best teachers from Afghanistan and elsewhere will be recruited and trained. A Professional Development Centre will serve teachers from the Academy and will also be available to teachers from government and other private schools. The Centre will improve the quality of teaching, learning, management and leadership of faculty thereby ensuring access to faculty of the highest calibre.

“The Afghan Academy will significantly enhance the efforts of the government to rebuild and strengthen the Afghan education sector,” said the Aga Khan. “It will empower future generations of educated men and women with the qualities, attitudes and knowledge that they will require when seeking to establish a peaceful and progressive civil society for the country,” he added.

The Academy will benefit from unique partnerships and associations that have been formed with leading academic institutions in Europe, Africa, Asia and Northern America. Notable examples of these are the Phillips Academy at Andover in the United States, Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development in Pakistan and the Aga Khan Education Services’ schools in various countries across Asia and Africa.

The Academy will feature campuses with exceptional facilities including well-equipped laboratories for general science, physics, biology, chemistry, home science and computers, a cultural centre, art and music rooms and a library and resource facilities.

The first Academy of Excellence began operating in December 2003 in Mombasa, Kenya and the foundation stone for a second was laid last month in Mozambique. Other Academies are planned for Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Syria.

Also during his visit to Afghanistan, the Aga Khan met with President Karzai to discuss and review activities of the Aga Khan Development Network in the country. He also reviewed construction of the Kabul Serena Hotel – soon to be the first 5-star hotel in Kabul. In addition, he paid a visit to the Bagh-e-Babur gardens which is currently being revitalised as a major public open space and where neighbourhood residential dwellings and public sanitation facilities are being rehabilitated.

For further information, please contact:

Meena Vallimohammed
Aga Khan Education Service (AKES)
Tel: + 9379 335 422

The Information Department
60270 Gouvieux
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The Aga Khan Academies are part of the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), which currently operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher secondary education services to more than 54,000 students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Uganda, Tanzania, and Tajikistan. Schools are also envisaged, or under development, in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Syria. The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies whose mandates range from the fields of health and education to architecture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. Its agencies and institutions, working together, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Africa and Asia.