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  • Professor Collette Suda, Principal Secretary, State department for University Education, Ministry of Education, speaking at the AKU’s convocation ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya.
    AKU
AKU Convocation ceremony 2017 in Nairobi

President of the Aga Khan University Firoz Rasul,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
Members of the Government,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Deans, Faculty and Staff,
Parents, Supporters and Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen, and most especially today’s graduands

I am delighted to be invited as a guest during this auspicious and historic occasion when the Aga Khan University is holding its thirteenth Convocation in Kenya. This is indeed a great honor bestowed upon me and I highly appreciate the invitation. I am happy to note that today, Degrees will be awarded to students graduating from the programmes offered at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Medical College and Institute for Educational Development in East Africa. From the onset, I wish to take this opportunity on my behalf and on behalf of the Ministryof Education staff to congratulate the graduands for their hard earned effort that has made them realize their dreams today.

I imagine that if you think back to the very first day you arrived at the University, and compare what you know now to what you knew then, you will be struck by the enormous strides you have made. But then, what is education if not a process of growth? To learn is to grow, and I am sure one thing you have learned in your time at Aga Khan University is that learning never stops, and knowledge never ceases to expand. No doubt many of you are already thinking about the next step in your education, whether that involves formal studies or the kind of education that one receives by taking on a new and more challenging position within one’s profession. In fact, it may be that the best measure of any academic programme is whether it leaves you hungry to learn more and to increase your capacity to bring about a change in the world.

But while there is no doubt you have earned every commendation you receive today, it is also the case that you are quite lucky to be here.Although the number of university graduates in Kenya and East Africa has grown remarkably in the last decade, it is still the case that only a small fraction of our young people gets the chance to enter university.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am informed that since the inception of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private, not-for-profit University, a lot of tremendous developments have been witnessed. The most remarkable achievement was that in the year 2000, the university expanded to East Africa – where Aga Khan educational institutions have been present for more than a century .Today, the University has more than 2,300 students across campuses in six countries namely Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.

I am happy to note that almost 30 per cent of the worldwide student body is enrolled in programmes in East Africa, and the number has been growing yearly. With several years of experience providing international quality education, the university offers students a practical, intimate learning experience in several relevant disciplines

Mr. President of the Aga Khan University

It is in this regard that I would wish to express a lot of gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan for his tremendous foresight and impact. This is because Aga Khan University is a unique hybrid type of higher learning institution not only in Kenya and East Africa but also internationally. It is a renowned source of medical, nursing and teacher education, research and public service in the developing world. Due to the strategic disciplines that it offers, the areas fit very well with the government’s development strategy as espoused in Vision 2030.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been a high profile item on the public agenda over the past years and PPP has been a popular global strategy for delivering new infrastructural development programs. There are multiple advantages why the government encourages this approach for rapid development.

It is considered as a way of introducing private sector technology and innovation in providing better public services through improved operational efficiency.

It is also a way to ensure transfer of skills. This leads to national champions that can run their own operations professionally and eventually export their competencies. Further, PPP is a way of creating motivation in the economy by making the country more competitive in terms of its facilitating infrastructure base. In addition, it gives a boost to the country’s business and industry associated with infrastructure development (such as construction, delivery of equipment, and provision of support services).

President of the Aga Khan University

The Ministry of education has initiated various reforms so as to strengthen education in the country in harmony with both the national and global changes. This is in recognition that Kenya’s education system has often come under criticism for failing to address the needs of the markets, with millions of students finding themselves ill equipped to meet the demands of employers. As we might be aware, Kenya’s Constitution recognizes education as a basic human need, and should have the ability to instill national values and life skills in learners. Article 55 (1) (a) anticipates that the state will take measures to ensure that the youth access relevant education and training. All these ideas have been considered in the proposed curriculum so as to enable education address emerging local, regional and global needs.

Ladies and gentlemen

Therefore, the education reform will address key issues such as ethical values, equity, diversity, equality of opportunity and excellence for alllearners. It is in this regard that I wish to congratulate the University for instilling in their learners key values that resonate well with university education such as impact, quality, relevance and access and these are also in line with the proposed changes.Once the new curriculum is agreed upon and implemented, we expect all the universities to adjust accordingly and prepare a comprehensive curriculum that can save the country from various ills.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, I wish to once more congratulate the graduands for their hard work and achievement , the parents and guardians for providing all the guidance and financial support, Faculty for effective preparation of graduands, Members of the Board of Trustees and management for providing visionary leadership.

May God bless you abundantly.