Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Rahim,
Honourable Minister for Education, Professor George Saitoti,
His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the Aga Khan University,
Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University,
Jambo and Karibu.
It is a great honour for me to be here to celebrate the inauguration of the Aga Khan University’s Faculty of Health Sciences in East Africa.
Today marks an important milestone for the University and we feel privileged to have the Honourable Professor Saitoti grace this historic occasion. The Government of Kenya and specifically, the Ministry of Education have extended valuable support to AKU in the establishment and accreditation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya. For this support, Honourable Minister, we are truly grateful. It is my hope that we will continue to benefit from the enthusiastic support and encouragement of the Government of Kenya.
I would also like to express our appreciation to the Professional Medical and Nursing Bodies for their advice and support, particularly in our efforts to recruit faculty and staff and to enable us to train local talent and strengthen capacity. It is said that a building can only stand tall if its foundations are strong. In the case of a university, a solid faculty is the foundation upon which its students can achieve great heights. Working together, we are setting new standards in health sciences education and practice to develop highly capable doctors and nurses that can then serve their own communities.
Today, I would like us to step back, reflect, and realise that none of this would be possible without the vision, guidance and generosity of our Chancellor and the University’s Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan.
The year commencing July 11th of 2007 marks the 50th anniversary of His Highness as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. On this occasion, I extend to Your Highness, on behalf of the whole Aga Khan University fraternity, our most sincere and heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of your Golden Jubilee. In particular, we are deeply grateful for your support and wisdom, from which we have benefitted beyond measure.
Since its inception in 1983, the Aga Khan University has earned its reputation as an institution of higher learning, recognised to be among the best in its fields of endeavour. In its short life, AKU is already an international university with its reach and programmes extending to several countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. In East Africa, while the University is relatively young, it has already achieved standards that are emulated by others.
AKU’s first academic initiative in East Africa was the Advanced Nursing Studies Programme which was established in 2001 and built upon the Aga Khan Health Services Home and Training School for Nurses at this very hospital over 50 years ago. Our programme is specifically intended to allow qualified nurses to reach an international standard of professional education while continuing to work in the field. The Advanced Nursing Programme today operates in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
AKU also established the Postgraduate Medical Education Programme which offers eight specialties ranging from radiology to surgery. The programme is enhancing the capabilities of medical doctors in East Africa to provide specialist tertiary care to patients in the region.
Building on these achievements, we are here today to celebrate the launch of the new Faculty of Health Sciences, which will offer programmes in medicine, nursing, and allied health at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. We are very grateful to His Highness for inaugurating our new Faculty on this auspicious occasion.
We are also thankful to all the people who have worked tirelessly in the conceptualisation and planning of the Faculty and the associated teaching Hospital to enable to us to move forward with this exciting expansion in East Africa.
The impact to East Africa will be substantial and wide ranging. The University’s ambitions are, in the words of our Chancellor “to set the highest standards possible, whether in teaching, research, or service.” Our aspiration is to develop the premier university and research centre in Africa with campuses in several countries, all operating as a cohesive and integrated unit, and part of an international institution and network. Guided by our Chancellor and Board of Trustees, you can see that we have set ourselves ambitious goals.
Our mission extends beyond only offering professional education to equip young women (9) and men with the knowledge, skills, ethics and leadership qualities for their future careers. We also have an objective to retain the best minds in the country by offering students not only international standard education but also equivalent career opportunities where they can realise professional development and satisfaction. Their presence and capacity will drive the region’s social and economic revitalisation. And, AKU’s substantial investment in East Africa over the next fifteen years will provide career and professional opportunities to several thousand people. At a time when the East African Community is gaining strength, the University is poised to help build regional cooperation through its campuses in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
As we begin our journey through the new faculties and campuses, new challenges and opportunities will emerge. It is our hope and desire that we shall continue working together for the continued development and progress of the East African region.
To all of you here I promise, ‘hi ni mwanzo tu’, this is only the beginning.
Thank you all for sharing this historic day with us.
May I now invite the Honourable Professor Saitoti and His Highness the Aga Khan to unveil the inaugural plaque.