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Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg Ottawa, Canada Wednesday, 15 November 2017 1510755300 Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony Pluralism speech Canada 2010s 6926 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg Global Centre for Pluralism

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
The Right Honourable Joe Clark
Excellencies
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism

What a great pleasure it is to join all of you in this wonderful celebration.

The extraordinary people we honour this evening have all demonstrated the same inspiring quality - the ability to respond creatively to the challenges of diversity.  At the same time, however, what is also most impressive tonight is the sheer diversity of their own particular stories.  As you may have noted, the three Pluralism Awardees come from three continents, and our Honorary Awardees come from seven additional countries.  But more than that, the nature of their work is itself truly multi-dimensional, as you will see as you learn about their accomplishments in more detail.

As you have heard, I am currently marking sixty years in the role I inherited in 1957.  This role has taught me a great deal about the challenges of pluralism - about the way those challenges can be met, but also the way those challenges are growing.  These are not new challenges, they are as old as the human race.  They include the human temptation to define our personal identities by what we are against - rather than what we are for.  They include the temptation to view difference, whenever it may appear, as something that might complicate one’s life, rather than as something that can enrich one’s life.  And they include the sometimes instinctive reaction that difference is a threat to be avoided rather than an opportunity to be embraced.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities.  That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world.   

And as we walk together on that road, the example set by others can be a powerful source of inspiration—and that is why the Global Centre for Pluralism has established these awards.   Their essential purpose is to share the power of inspiring examples with an ever-wider Community of Pluralism all across our world, a Community that will then create a growing momentum for inclusion - rather than exclusion – as a way to respond to the changes of our world.

In many ways, the establishment of this Award follows the pattern of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture which was established several decades ago.  The final outcome of the Awards process is important, of course, but what is also important (both for Architecture - and now for Pluralism), is the far-reaching process  that  leads to the selection of our Awardees.  It is a process that engages, over a two-year period, scores - indeed hundreds - of dedicated individuals. It includes those who search for qualified nominees, those who explore and investigate, and who then reflect on the difference that pluralistic commitments can make in specific contexts, at specific moments, in specific places.  

It is one thing for us to talk about the general principles and theories of Pluralism.  But it is even more exciting to see, close up, what Pluralism can mean in practice.   

As I mention that process, I want to salute all who have participated in it -including the Selection Committee, and our Jury - led by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark and including  His Worship Naheed Nenshi, Advocate Bience Gawanas, Dr. Dante Caputo and Madame Pascale Thumerelle.

I am also deeply pleased to be joined here tonight by the Right Honorable Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.  I well recall her groundbreaking 2015 Pluralism Lecture in Toronto, when she reminded us that living harmoniously amid diversity demands, and I quote her, “great generosity of spirit and openness of mind.”

Those very qualities certainly characterise the Chief Justice herself.  Her leadership of the Supreme Court will be greatly missed when she retires at the end of this year.

It is my honour tonight to express to her our profound thanks for her powerful example, as I ask you to join me in welcoming her to this podium.

Thank you.

speech_192546 <p>"Some people make the mistake of thinking that Pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities.&nbsp; That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world."</p> English
United Nations Foundation Award http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg New York, USA Thursday, 19 October 2017 1508309100 Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the United Nations Foundation Award event Civil society,Pluralism speech United States of America 2010s 6926 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg

Bismillah-ir-Rahaman-ir-Rahim

President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák,
Secretary-General António Guterres,
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed,
Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
The many Permanent Representatives in attendance,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you so much Kofi Annan for your generous words of introduction.  There is no person alive today who has made a greater contribution to world peace than you, and thanks are due to you from all around the world.

It is a pleasure for me to share this beautiful evening with all of you, and what a special honor it is to be receiving from the United Nations Foundation its “Champion of Change Award.”   I must also say that it is a very humbling experience - especially as I look around this room at so many people who have truly been outstanding “Champions of Change” in so many fields of endeavour - including the others being honored tonight.  I am indeed humbled to be in their presence.   

I have come to know about the United Nations Foundation through our admired friend, Kofi Annan, who has been one of our “educators-in-chief” in spreading the good word about the UN Foundation - of which he is an extremely devoted and effective board member.

I am also an enthusiastic supporter of the UN Foundation for another reason.  What has caught my attention for many years is how closely its philosophy about global development actually parallels our own.  The words that leap out of its mission statements include terms like “linking” and “connecting…” not only with the United Nations itself, but with a host of other organisations.  Some of these are private, some are governmental, and some are private but not-for-profit.  I refer to this third category of institutions as “Civil Society” - by which I mean essentially private organizations that are fundamentally devoted to public purposes.

For a long time, political debate all around the world focused on the competing merits of government action versus private enterprise.  My conviction, which has deepened through the years, is that these are false alternatives - and that is the central message I would emphasize in these brief remarks tonight.  The question is not which sector can be most effective in the march towards progress - the central question is how these sectors can best become effective partners in this quest.

The concept of public-private partnerships has been one of the keys to the best work of our agencies, in many fields and many countries around the world in the last sixty years since I became the Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community.  The public-private partnership formula alone, however, is incomplete - unless we also insert the words “Civil Society.”  The partnerships that will most dramatically change the world are those in which all three components - private, public and civil society institutions can connect  - one with the other  - in all-embracing common effort.

When that happens, other concepts emphasised by the UN Foundation also come alive.  I have been impressed, for example, by the innovative terminology the Foundation uses in expressing its goals:  like these three dynamic words:  “Catalyzing” – “multiplier” – and “effects.”  Think about it.

The notion of “catalyzing multiplier effects” reflects a similar dynamic to what I refer to as  “trampoline” projects for development.  These projects are best-practice examples of balanced partnerships between governments, private entities and civil society, threaded together by innovative thinking, intelligent structures, and clear lines of communication.  Well-defined goals and responsibilities are essential, as is the buy-in of the target constituency.

Such projects offer the potential for long-range impacts, which go well beyond immediate, short-term results.

This goal is - to be candid - sometimes easier to talk about than to accomplish.  But one of the great global models of how best to pursue this aim has been the United Nations Foundation.

Another central part of our Aga Khan Development Network’s approach is one that we also share with the United Nations Foundation: an emphasis on what we call “countries of opportunity”.  The issue is to do what we must to set them alive by creating and sustaining an enabling environment.

And fundamental to all of this, of course, is a basic philosophical commitment which is expressed by another important word and that word is “pluralism”.  This is a frame of mind which regards diversity, multiplicity, and indeed difference itself - not as a burden nor a threat but as a gift - a Gift of the divine - an opportunity to learn rather than a danger to be avoided.

So - it is with all of these thoughts in mind that I say again how proud I am to be here to accept your award - recognising how it reinforces not only the important “words” but also the useful concepts, and indeed the central “values”- that we - all of us - hold in common.

Thank you very much.  

 

speech_191436 English
Honorary Doctorate from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/cropped_dsc0001.jpg Lisbon, Portugal Thursday, 20 July 2017 1500565500 Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan upon receiving a doctorate honoris causa from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa Education and knowledge society speech Portugal 2010s 6926 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/cropped_dsc0001.jpg Aga Khan University,University of Central Asia Civil society,Education

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Your Excellency President Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Your Excellency Vice-President of the Parliament Jorge Lacão   
Honorable Rector of the NOVA University, Professor António Rendas
President of the NOVA University’s General Council, Professor Arantes e Oliveira 
Patron of the Doctorate, Francisco Pinto Balsemão
Members of the Diplomatic Corps 
Excellencies
Distinguished Guests

I am deeply honoured by this recognition from Universidade NOVA, and by the presence of so many of this country’s distinguished leaders, including the President of the Portuguese Republic.  I am grateful to Mr. Francisco Pinto Balsemão, as the Patron of the Doctorate, for his warm gesture and long friendship.  

The University may be young compared against the more than 700-year history of higher education in Portugal, but it has quickly developed a truly outstanding reputation for the quality of its teaching and scholarship, and for its pluralistic, global outlook – foundations that will last for centuries.

I have always felt at home in Portugal, and now ever more so since the signing in 2015 of an historic Agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in this country – an important milestone in the 1,400-year history of the Ismaili Imamat.  It marks the culmination of our long and deep relationship here and one that will now deepen further.  While we work in 30 countries, we hold an enduring affinity for Portugal and its institutions, its history and its people.  And the historic Palacete Henrique Mendonca will become the most fitting host for the Seat.

Underpinning this partnership with Portugal is our admiration for the country’s pluralism and bridge-building initiatives with people from disparate cultures and faiths.  

In addition to Universidade NOVA’s significant and international partnerships, your student body now includes people from an impressive 103 countries!  Your principles are embodied within your motto, and I quote, “every city divided against itself shall not stand”.  The world would do well to adopt it. 

The University promotes sustainable development across a range of human activity, all working together to raise the quality of human life.  The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) also emphasises integrated approaches.  In Portugal, our urban community and early childhood programmes are particularly important in driving holistic results that transform lives, across a diversity of individuals and communities. 

You are purposeful about building partnerships; a true hallmark of an exceptional institution.  Some of your partners are also ours, for example Catholica University and Gulbenkian Foundation.  Another example is an innovative partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic, supporting research here and in Africa. And I would also mention our work with the Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza in Mozambique to strengthen agriculture, which now seeks partnerships in Portugal. It is clear that the production of food is a critical issue for the destiny of all African countries.

Universities are important civil society institutions, and it is essential to focus on their role in the years ahead.  The AKDN has two universities that, like yours, are relatively new. The Aga Khan University, started in 1983, promotes standards for healthcare and education in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.K. and across East Africa.  More recently we started an institution in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.  In naming it, we sought to signal local roots and the word “new” or “NOVA” Aga Khan University did not sound quite right!  We called it University of Central Asia. Indeed, Portugal’s emphasis on learning and knowledge aligns with Islam’s emphasis on these areas.

I reiterate in closing my profound appreciation for our partnership, and for honouring me and by extension the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN, especially as this honour comes during my Diamond Jubilee year, marking 60 years as the 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims worldwide.

Our commitment to Portugal reflects our deep respect for this country and our deep affection for its people.   
 
Thank you.
 

speech_187261 English
Opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg Mombasa, Kenya Tuesday, 13 June 2017 1497024900 Speech by H.E. Margaret Kenyatta at the opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital speech Kenya 2010s 179271 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg Aga Khan Health Services inaugurations Health

Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Development partners
Distinguished Guest Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning,

It is such a pleasure to be here this morning to join you in launching an initiative that will save thousands of Kenyan lives.

I am happy to be reacquainted with so many of you dear friends, and the Aga Khan family who together over the past four years have partnered with me to improve the lives of mothers and children of Kenya.

Today we have gathered to witness the launch of a historical and innovative investment of state of the art cardiac Catheterization laboratory, the latest in Kenya and the first of its kind outside Nairobi.  

For this, I extend my deepest gratitude to Princes Zahra, the Aga Khan Development Network and the partners involved in this important initiative that will expand access to quality diagnostic, timely and accurate treatment not only to the Coastal communities, but the entire country.

I applaud the Aga Khan Development Network for its strategic investment of US$ 1million to not only deliver health services access closer to the communities through the establishment of more health facilities. This new facility offload the existing pressure on Referral Hospitals and medical specialists.

We have heard that coronary artery disease has been projected to take over as the leading cause of mortality in Sub Sahara Africa, and sadly, the vulnerable communities continue to bear the brunt of this disease. In Kenya, more than 3,000 avoidable deaths occur annually mostly affecting the younger generation, who are the productive segment of our country.

Dealing with this new phenomenon requires an aligned vision, cultivation of reliable and strong partnerships between the public sector, professionals, development partners and the private sector.  Kenya has spent the last decade addressing the issue of quality healthcare access. The progress in this effort is laudable and will continue to be the focus over the next decade.

In my journey with the Beyond Zero initiative, travelling across all 47 counties, I agonized over the despair and cost that families face due to limited access, financial barriers and limited information on preventative care. But I have also witnessed the invaluable pivotal role that partnerships play in positively impacting communities and complimenting the Governments effort to expand access to quality, timely and affordable healthcare.  Which is why I am so thrilled to be part of this partnership today that will have a direct bearing on targeting poor households and vulnerable citizens. 

This visionary hospital project that will be rolled out in the next two years promises to offer many Kenyans readily available and improved diagnostic treatment, as well as offer training for medical professionals and research.  And I am confident that together we will find the right approach to increase public awareness and develop practical and sustainable solutions to treatment for cardiovascular diseases.

With those few remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare the Cardiac Catheterisation Lab at the Cardiology Centre officially launched.

Thank you.

speech_186631 English
Foreign Policy Association Medal to His Highness the Aga Khan http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-05-usa-mcnee-dsc_3084.jpg New York Monday, 29 May 2017 1493796600 Speech by Mr. McNee, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, on receipt of the Foreign Policy Assoication Medal Pluralism speech United States of America 2010s 186381 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-05-usa-mcneedsc_3079_r.jpg Global Centre for Pluralism,pluralism

Minister,
Excellencies,

Thank you Alex Lawrie for such a generous introduction.

It is wonderful for Sue and me to be back in New York and among so many friends.

It is a great honour to receive this prestigious Medal on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Global Centre for Pluralism. His Highness asked me to convey his deep appreciation to the Board of the Foreign Policy Association and to Noel Lateef, its President. He has been a real admirer of the FPA since he was an undergraduate at Harvard.

Many of you may not know much about the Aga Khan. He is both a faith leader—he is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims—and a major global philanthropist who has devoted his life to making the world a better place for all, regardless of faith or ethnicity. In the last decade, he has founded two major new institutions in Canada—the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, a spectacular new museum that showcases his family’s collection of Islamic art.

I am delighted that leaders of the Ismaili community in the US are here at this wonderful dinner.

I am honoured to be here tonight with Dr David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He has achieved great things as president of Cornell and now at the Smithsonian. It is very flattering and fitting that the Global Centre for Pluralism should be recognised alongside the Smithsonian. Our mandates intersect: the Smithsonian is all about explaining and communicating the rich strands of American history and culture. The Global Centre for Pluralism is about respecting and, indeed, celebrating diversity, in the United States, in Canada and globally.

As His Highness has said:
"Diversity is not a reason to put up walls, but rather to open windows. It is not a burden, it is a blessing. In the end, of course, we must realize that living with diversity is a challenging process. We are wrong to think it will be easy. The work of pluralism is always a work in progress."

Now, behavioural science has long taught that the best solutions emerge when people of different experiences and perspectives are brought together to solve a problem. It is the same in societies. As Tom Friedman has persuasively argued in his latest book, Thank You For Being Late, in the 21st century the countries that will be most successful will be those which value their diversity.

Our thesis is that every society in the contemporary world is diverse in some way, whether social, linguistic, ethnic, tribal or religious diversity. This is true for all continents --for Africa and Asia, North and South America and Europe – and for developing countries, the emerging powers and industrialized countries alike.

If that diversity is accommodated and valued, it will lead to greater prosperity and peace. But, the opposite holds true, too: if diversity is seen as an element of weakness or division, it leads to discord and negative social outcomes—less peace, less development, less prosperity. At worst, civil strife or even genocide.

Well, what do I mean by “pluralism”?

Diversity in society is a fact, but pluralism is a deliberate choice - by governments, by civil society organisations like the Foreign Policy Association, by communities and by individuals, to accommodate and value diversity in society.

Now, the members of the FPA are a very sophisticated group. If I were to ask you to name the common global challenges of the 21st century, your list would probably include climate change, nuclear proliferation, alleviation of poverty, human rights and democracy and a sound global financial system. To these, His Highness would add the challenge of living together productively with difference.

Why is pluralism so urgently needed in today’s world? To be blunt, the trends are very troubling. Stephen Toope, the incoming President of my alma mater, Cambridge University, argues that we are entering a new “age of anxiety”. A tide of nationalist populism, nativism, intolerance and xenophobia is sweeping across Europe. It may yet upend European politics. A close analysis of the Brexit vote by The Economist shows that fear of immigrants and refugees, not economic dislocation, was the crucial factor. The United States, the great beacon of hope and opportunity for the whole world, is not immune, and nor is my country, Canada. Fear of the accelerated pace of change, fear of those who are different, fear of the future propel this wave.

As these developments roil Western societies, in the developing world the challenges of living together with diversity are endemic and often cause violent conflict—over access to land and water, or to economic opportunity, or to sharing political power, or the right to practice one’s faith, or to maintain one’s language and culture.

This is true in Africa and Asia as well as in the Americas. Think only of Iraq and Syria, where sectarian and ethnic differences have, in part, been the cause of tragedy. Think back to the former Yugoslavia, to Sri Lanka, to Rwanda to consider the terrible depths to which ethnic conflict can descend.

Now, to go back to Canada. Canada is not perfect. But the Aga Khan would argue that it is the most successful country in respecting its wide ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity and in harvesting the benefits of that diversity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said:
“…our diversity isn’t a challenge to be overcome, or a difficulty to be tolerated. Rather it is a tremendous source of strength. Canadians understand that diversity is our strength. We know that Canada has succeeded –culturally, politically, economically, because our diversity, not in spite of it…”

The Global Centre for Pluralism is a unique private - public partnership between a global philanthropist, His Highness the Aga Khan, and the Canadian government.

Its mission, as an applied knowledge organisation, is to promote understanding of the principles and practices of pluralism around the world, and to share that knowledge and those experiences with others through research, education and dialogue.

To cite just one of the Centre’s exciting new initiatives, in November we will confer the first Global Pluralism Awards that will celebrate “pluralism in action” around the world.

On May 16th, His Highness and the Governor General of Canada will officially open our Global Headquarters, a major heritage building in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

I invite you all to come and see us and also to engage through our website.

Ladies and gentleman, to conclude, pluralism needs champions and supporters, it is under assault. By conferring this prestigious Medal on His Highness, the FPA is giving important recognition and profile to the cause. We are very sincerely grateful.

To paraphrase that wonderful old line from Casablanca, I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Thank you very much.

speech_186386 English
Opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/_mv15893.jpg Ottawa, Canada Tuesday, 16 May 2017 1494938700 Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism Pluralism speech Canada 2010s 6926 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/_mv15893.jpg pluralism,Global Centre for Pluralism Civil society

Bismillah-ir-Rahaman-ir-Rahim

Your Excellency the Governor General
Madame la Ministre
Excellencies
Fellow Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism
Friends of the Centre

What a great day this is for all of us.  And what a special ceremony, as we honour a beautiful symbol of Canada’s rich past, and rededicate it to the great cause of a pluralistic Global future.         

As you know, the War Museum Building was designed well over a century ago by the great Canadian Architect, David Ewart.  For its first half century, it was the home of the Dominion Archives, and then, for another half century, we knew it as the War Museum.  For over one hundred years, all told, it was a place where the record of Canada’s proud and confident past was preserved and honoured.      

I think you will agree with me that the past still speaks to us in this place.  The architects, designers, engineers and so many others who have rehabilitated this wonderful Tudor Gothic building have taken enormous care to respect its distinctive historic character.  We all join today in saluting the design and engineering team led by KPMB, the construction team, led by MP Lundy Construction, and so many other dedicated staff and volunteers who have contributed to this project.

J'aimerais partager une autre pensée alors que nous tournons nos regards vers ce passé si digne de respect.  Je trouve en effet très approprié que cette cérémonie ait lieu cette année, l'année du 150ème anniversaire de la Confédération canadienne.

Je suis heureux de pouvoir me compter au nombre de ceux qui, cette année, évoquent avec une fierté particulière "notre" histoire canadienne.  La raison en est bien sûr la générosité dont ce pays a fait preuve à mon égard, il y a plusieurs années, en m'octroyant le titre de citoyen honoraire du Canada.

But even as we celebrate the past today, we are also looking ahead, with joy and confidence, to a particularly exciting future. 

That future has also been symbolized by those who have renewed this building, in two compelling ways.   

First, they created a new garden in the forecourt, a tranquil space for contemplating the past and thinking about the future.  And then, secondly, they made a dramatic new gesture for the future by opening this building to the river.

When I first visited this site, I went across the Ottawa River, to see things from the opposite side.  From that perspective, I noticed that many buildings on the Ontario side had, over the years, turned their backs to the river.  But as we began to plan, another possibility became evident.  It seemed increasingly significant to open the site to the water. 

Water, after all, has been seen, down through the ages, as the great source of life.  When scientists search the universe for signs of life, they begin by looking for water.  Water restores and renews and refreshes.  And opening ourselves and our lives to the water is to open ourselves and our lives to the future.

In addition, the Ottawa River represents a powerful connection to other places, nearby and far away.  It is not only a refreshing symbol, it is also a connecting symbol, connecting this site to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world. 

Throughout the history of Canada, the Ottawa River has been a meeting place for diverse peoples, originally the First Nations, and then the British and the French, and more recently Canadians from many different backgrounds.  It symbolizes the spirit of connection.  And the spirit of connection, of course, is at the very heart of the Global Centre for Pluralism.    

The new forecourt garden suggests that the Centre will be a place for contemplation and reflection.  And the opening to the River suggests that it will also be a place for connection and engagement. 

What happens at 330 Sussex Drive in the years ahead will radiate out well beyond its walls, to the entire world.

Let me emphasize a point about the concept of pluralism that is sometimes misunderstood.  Connection does not necessarily mean agreement.  It does not mean that we want to eliminate our differences or erase our distinctions.  Far from it.  What it does mean is that we connect with one another in order to learn from one another, and to build our future together.  

Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference.  Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society, it strengthens it.  In an ever-shrinking, ever more diverse world, a genuine sense of pluralism is the indispensable foundation for human peace and progress.

From the start, this has been a vision that the Ismaili Imamat and the Government of Canada have deeply shared.

My own close association with Canada began more than five decades ago, with the coming to Canada of many thousands of Asian Ismailis, essentially as the result of Idi Amin’s anti-Asian policies in Uganda. That relationship has been re-enforced through the years as we have shared with our Canadian friends in so many great adventures, here in Canada and in other lands, including the Global Centre for Pluralism.

The Centre has been, from the start, a true partnership - a breakthrough partnership - a genuine public-private partnership.  And one of my central messages today is how deeply grateful we are to all of those who have made this partnership so effective.    

It was with Prime Minister Jean Chretien, that we first discussed the idea of founding a new pluralism centre, and it was Prime Minister Paul Martin who helped develop the plan.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government sealed the partnership and Minister Bev Oda then signed with me the establishing Agreement. Minister Mélanie Joly has also given strong support to the GCP.  And Prime Minister Trudeau has articulated, with conviction and with passion, the need for pluralism in our world.

I think, too, today of so many other public servants who have helped guide this effort, including Universities Canada, the IDRC and other past and present members of the Corporation of the GCP.  And I also thank  the fine cooperation we have received from the Canadian Mint, who will share with us in occupying one wing of this building.

As we celebrate the progress we have made today, we also recognize the growing challenges to our mission, as nativist and nationalist threats to pluralism rise up in so many corners of the world.  In responding to these challenges, the Global Centre for Pluralism has planned a variety of new initiatives.  Among them are the new Global Pluralism Awards which will recognise pluralism in action around the world, as well as a distinguished series of new publications.

As we look today both to the past and to the future, we do so with gratitude to all those who have shared in this journey, and who now share in our pursuit of new dreams.  Among them is someone whom we welcome today not only as a distinguished Statesman, but also as one whose personal support has inspired us all. 

It is a pleasure and an honour to present to you His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada.

Thank you

speech_186221 <p>"Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference. &nbsp;Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society - it strengthens it."</p> English
Bamyan hospital opening, Afghanistan http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/3_-_pz_speech.jpg Bamyan, Afghanistan Monday, 24 April 2017 1493021700 Remarks by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the opening of the Bamyan hospital, Afghanistan Health speech Afghanistan 2010s 8996 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/3_-_pz_speech.jpg Aga Khan Health Services inaugurations Health

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Your Excellency Second Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danesh,
Your Excellency Minister of Public Health, Dr. Firozuddin Firoz,
Your Excellency Minister of Public Works, Engineer Mahmoud Baligh,
Your Excellency, Governor Mohamed Tahir Zohair,
Your Excellency Ambassador Kenneth Neufeld,
Your Excellency Ambassador François Richier,
distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you, governor Zohair for your very warm welcome to Bamyan. Today is a momentous day as we open the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital. The Aga Khan Development Network started work in the Bamyan Province in 2003. At that time health service delivery at Bamyan Hospital was provided from a 35 bed facility with 72 staff working mainly out of tents. There was no Essential Package of Hospital Services, nor a Masterplan for the Hospital to guide its development, very limited equipment, medicines and consumables, and there was a great shortage of qualified health staff.   

Major changes have occurred since then; at the old premises the hospital was upgraded and expanded, more and better qualified staff were brought in, training programmes commenced, new equipment was installed and the hospital became well-stocked with medicines and consumables.     

The investments have had an impact: the volumes at the hospital increased and performance improved. The number of admissions went up from 1,900 in 2004 to more than11,000 in 2016, the outpatient attendances from 43,000 to 175,000, deliveries from 100 to more than 3,000, and major operations from 150 to 600.

Similarly, the hospital has seen a good reduction in waiting time for the patient to see a doctor, and in quality indicators such as the number of inpatient falls, infections acquired in the hospital during admission, medical errors and needle stick injuries and a steadily-declining average length of stay – these are all signs of improving clinical quality. In 2012 the Bamyan Provincial Hospital received ISO-9001:2008 certification, the first and with Faizabad Hospital in Badakhshan the only Provincial Hospitals in Afghanistan with this ‘quality’ accreditation.  

Next to investing in infrastructure and equipment, Bamyan hospital management, supported by the community hospital board, has been able and continues to invest in training and capacity building of the now more than 200 staff, and the Aga Khan Health Services, Afghanistan with its partners pays much attention to the importance of continuing education for medical, nursing and allied health staff, as well as management and support staff.

The telemedicine or e-health link, established in 2009, also plays an important role. It creates the opportunity for the staff at Bamyan hospital to connect to the FMIC in Kabul and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi; these extend support and advice, build capacity and enable an exchange of medical data and information for analysis. Enabling this technology to come to Bamyan has made and continues to make a significant impact to the quality improvements in health service delivery at the hospital. To date in Bamyan, more than 9,000 patients have benefitted from telemedicine and more than 4,000 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by this link.

However, Bamyan Provincial Hospital became in a way victim of its own success: the old premises became too small to cope with the increasing number of patients and there was no possibility to expand further. We are grateful to be able today to officially open this well-designed and constructed141 bed hospital on this site gifted by the Bamyan municipality.

The new hospital is state of the art when it comes to functionality, but it is also designed to be highly energy efficient and structurally safe and seismically resilient. The building also has some unique architectural features – the external finishing using traditional mud construction that makes the hospital blend in so well with the natural environment by applying new innovative ‘rammed earth’ technologies to make it durable; the central Charbagh, the views of the external spaces with the wonderful views of the mountains from all corners of the building and creating a sense of being connected to nature while being inside; the art work that you see on the walls using local historical motives and the 400 KW solar plant that provides for the majority of the electrical supply of the hospital.  

I want to thank all who created this beautiful facility on time and within budget; hospital planners CPG, architects ARCOP, contractors Raqim, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat construction management team, and the steering committee that judiciously oversaw the project.

I must make special mention of the important Canadian support, through Global Affairs Canada, that allowed us to build this hospital. Global Affairs Canada has been one of the AKDN's long-standing partners, supporting the establishment of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing in Pakistan some three decades ago, and now supporting so much of our work in maternal, newborn, and child health as well as health systems strengthening here in Afghanistan, and in other parts of Central and South Asia.  

Phase 2 of the hospital construction, including the installation of the solar plant, was made possible through the Health Action Plan for Afghanistan or HAPA programme, that brought another longstanding collaborator of AKDN; France, through the Agence Française de Développement. Thank you, AFD.

I would also like to acknowledge the thousands of Canadians who contributed to Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s fundraising efforts for the construction of the hospital.
 
Let me end by expressing our warmest gratitude to all of you and especially to the Government of Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani, first Lady Rula Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdulla Abdulla whom I met this morning, Vice President Sarwar Danesh, Minister of Public Health, Dr. Firozuddin Firoz, Minister of Public Works, Engineer Mahmoud Baligh, Governor Mohamed Tahir Zuhair and many others for their support to AKDN and to our staff, that has made it possible for us to play a role towards improving the health of the people of Bamyan province.  

The way you have taken on the responsibility of the stewardship role and guided us in the implementation of the Essential Hospital Services Package for Bamyan Hospital, the Basic Package of Health services in remote areas of Afghanistan, and the Community Midwifery and Nursing Education Programmes in three provinces has truly been exemplary.

The Aga Khan Development Network itself remains dedicated to working with the Government of Afghanistan and through it, to building the quality of life of its great people. Through investments in the private sector – telecommunications, hospitality, tourism and microfinance – as well as concurrent investments in the social and cultural sectors – health systems strengthening; health professionals training including post-graduate medical education and diploma level nursing through the Aga Khan University; primary, secondary education and adult literacy programmes; facilitating village community organisations; the restoration of the Bagh-e-Babur gardens and the urban area around it. Through these multiple interventions, the Network seeks to harness and influence the various dimensions of human life such that together, they chart a course for growth while building social protection.  

Thank you.

 

speech_182746 <p>"Today is a momentous day as we open the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital. The Aga Khan Development Network started work in Bamyan Province in 2003. At that time health service delivery at Bamyan Hospital was provided from a 35 bed facility with 72 staff working mainly out of tents. There was no Essential Package of Hospital Services, nor a Masterplan for the Hospital to guide its development, very limited equipment, medicines and consumables, and there was a great shortage of qualified health care staff."</p> English
Aga Khan University Convocation ceremony 2017, Nairobi http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-valedictorian-_dr_angela_okoth_ongewe.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, 16 February 2017 1487169000 Valedictory speech by Dr. Angela Ongewe at the AKU Convocation 2017, Nairobi speech Kenya 2010s 179521 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-valedictorian-_dr_angela_okoth_ongewe.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education,Health

Our Chief Guest Professor Collette Akoth Suda, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education, Ministry of Education, Republic of Kenya
Trustee Yusuf Keshavji
President Firoz Rasul
Distinguished guests
AKU faculty, staff and alumni present
Esteemed family members and friends
Fellow graduates
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning!

I am humbled, and honoured, to have been asked to speak on behalf of my cohort today. Seated here are people I have walked with, learned from, come to care for and who I deeply respect: it is difficult not to feel unworthy. These positions for training from which we graduate were distributed on merit. We all worked extremely hard to get here. And still I am certain I speak for everyone in saying that we all feel blessed to have had the opportunity that tens of others craved.

Aga Khan University sports so many successes. Her sterling reputation precedes her! The PGME run Masters of Medicine programmes have produced a further 23 specialists (22 from this campus and 1 from Dar es Salaam campus) who will go on to soar in their respective fields. School of Nursing and Midwifery through it's rigorous work-study programme has equipped 31 more nurses with degrees to give them the professional standing to help turn around Kenya's healthcare conduit. IED has churned out 58 more educators, 30 and 21 of whom have already attended the Dar es Salaam and Kampala campuses ceremonies respectively and 7 of whom are present here today who will empower our populace in the field of education.

I came to the Aga Khan University Hospital determined to engrave myself in her legacy: I was going to change the world through best practice! Instead I noticed many things about ME changing. My colleagues withered away. Losing weight by the day. I lost my neck and waist. In countless instances I was far from the altruistic physician. I became a perpetual recipient of other's kindness, wisdom in conflict resolution, long-suffering in instruction and favour in hands on training. Our seniors, peers, support units and the patients we served kept us from losing our humanity in the race for academic and professional perfection. I dare say we all changed. It is hard to join a movement set in such honorable values and not be changed.

On behalf of this graduating class I thank His Highness the Aga Khan. We are proud beneficiaries of His vision and fortitude. And we thank our faculty; indeed we have acquired knowledge and skills from the cream of our continent. We have faced challenges that have molded and grown us, secured fast friends and forged lifelong professional relationships. We have learnt to serve the wealthy, the wanting and everyone in between with the best of ourselves. We have interacted with others in our fields and remembered that we are indeed world-class from our training, and able to not only fit in but lead in any environment! We are I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to pursue our my passion while practicing our my trade among people we I have come to consider our my family.

My prayer is that we stock up on the heart to use our skills and talents to serve. The wisdom to get results efficiently. The drive to rock the status quo when it needs it. That in the backdrop of a most tumultuous healthcare profile, and the now settling education sector we may stand as beacons of hope in our workstations, demonstrating a spirit of unwavering advocacy, the resolve to defend what is right, the courage to stand alone if needed. That we remain warriors for our cause as we push the Kenyan patient's and student’s experience to the next level! That the highest of standards becomes our bare minimum. And may this Aga Khan University spirit that we bear carry excellence on her wings and touch lives beyond our shores!

May God bless you all!

And congratulations graduating class of 2016!

speech_179516 English
AKU Convocation ceremony 2017 in Nairobi http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-professor_collete_a_suda-_pricipal_secretary-_state_department_for_university_education.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, 16 February 2017 1487164500 Speech by Prof. Collette A. Suda, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education at AKU Convocation 2017, Nairobi speech Kenya 2010s 179506 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-professor_collete_a_suda-_pricipal_secretary-_state_department_for_university_education.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education,Health

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.

 

speech_179501 English
AKU Convocation ceremony 2017 in Nairobi http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-firoz-rasul.jpg Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, 16 February 2017 1487148300 Speech by AKU President, Firoz Rasul, at the Convocation ceremony in Nairobi speech Kenya 2010s 8941 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-firoz-rasul.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education,Health

Our Chief Guest, Professor Collette Suda, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education, Ministry of Education
Members of the Government
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University
Parents, Partners, Supporters and Distinguished Guests
And most importantly, Graduands,

Hamjambo and Karibuni. Good morning and welcome to the 2017 Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University.

It is wonderful to see you all gathered here – I know many of you have long dreamed of this day. It is an honor to be able to host our many donors, who have shared their success with the University and placed their trust in us. And we are grateful to our Chief Guest, Principal Secretary Professor Collette Suda, for sharing this occasion. The presence of all our guests is a humbling reminder that the work we do at AKU depends upon the sacrifices, generosity and support of a great many others.

Graduands, this is a day when all of us celebrate your achievements – parents, faculty, staff, leaders and friends of the University. It is a day when you feel an unmistakable pride in your accomplishments, and with every justification. That you are sitting here is proof of your determination and passion for learning, and it demonstrates that you can compete with the best the world has to offer.

Yet if you look within yourselves, I think you will recognize another emotion as well: the sense of being connected to something larger than yourselves. That something may be the community of friends you have built here. It may be your family, whose love and support you have honored with your achievement. It may be the University and its vision, or the great enterprise of learning and innovation that spans the globe and the centuries. But that sense is certainly there.

It is there because as humans we naturally seek a higher purpose. We seek a great task or calling – a challenge that brings meaning to our lives, and that leaves a mark on the lives of others.
One need not look far to find such challenges. They are all around us. All of you, our graduands, have studied them in your time here, and witnessed them in your lives and careers.

Seventeen years ago, the nations of the world, Kenya included, came together to commit to reducing poverty, hunger, illness, illiteracy and prejudice. They called the goals they adopted the Millennium Development Goals, and they aimed to achieve them by 2015.

The goals were ambitious. And to its credit, Kenya made significant progress toward meeting them. The child mortality rate was cut in half. The percentage of children enrolled in primary school surged. AIDS-related deaths declined substantially.

Yet, graduands, much remains to be done, as I know you are well aware. Too many people are hungry and living in poverty. Despite progress, too many pregnant women, babies and children under 5 are dying from preventable causes. Too many young people are not learning enough in school, and too many are dropping out.

But what does this represent, if not the great task that we are all seeking, and for which your education has prepared you? With the skills and capabilities you have developed at AKU, you can help to bring about the world we all want to see, in which suffering and injustice have been consigned to history.  

2015 is behind us. Yet the urge the Millennium Development Goals expressed – the urge to unite behind a common agenda for the betterment of humanity – has not diminished. 193 countries, including Kenya, have committed to achieve a new set of goals by 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals. If Kenya were to meet them, it would be a country transformed – a place where no child suffers from hunger, every boy and girl is taught by well-qualified teachers, and all people have access to high-quality health care.

Together with its fellow agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, the University is working to make that vision a reality, as an educator of leaders, a source of problem-solving research and a provider of outstanding health care. And we are doing so in partnership with civil society organizations, government and public-sector institutions, seeking to help them as they pursue the Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2030.

Last year, we carried out a study of our School of Nursing and Midwifery that found that more than half its alumni are working in government facilities. Overall, the study found our nursing graduates are having a significant impact on health systems and the quality of care, as clinicians, senior leaders, managers, educators and researchers.

As the first institution to train cancer nursing specialists in East Africa, the School of Nursing and Midwifery is helping to make it possible for Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret to offer a Diploma in Oncology Nursing. In this effort, it has received essential support from the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. The School plans to establish other specialty diploma programmes in nursing in the near future.

Our Medical College works closely with public universities in curriculum development and standard setting. All our trainees gain experience through clinical exposure at both the Aga Khan University Hospital and public institutions, and many public university students gain experience through electives and rotations at AKU.

In 2016, we started fellowship training in Infectious Diseases, and will soon start fellowship training in Cardiology. These programmes, which will continue to grow in number, will make it possible for physicians to do advanced training without having to leave the country. As with graduates of our residency programme, we expect those who take advantage of this new training will become leaders in enhancing the quality of health care in Kenya.

Together with our sister agencies, the Aga Khan Health Services and the Aga Khan Foundation, the University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health is supporting  government efforts to improve maternal and child health.

In Kilifi and Kisii counties, the Centre is working with 11 government health facilities to address the health needs of 135,000 women and children. This follows last year’s launch of the Kenya Countdown to 2030 Case Study, a collaboration involving AKU, the Ministry of Health and a group of international partners. That study provides a roadmap for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals for maternal, newborn and child health. We were proud to launch it in the presence of Her Excellency First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was our chief guest, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

Meanwhile, our Institute for Human Development is providing training support to community organizations that work with children impacted by HIV/AIDS. And it will soon implement health and nutrition interventions among children in marginalized communities.

All this work is in addition to about a million patients cared for in Kenya annually by the University Hospital, the Aga Khan Hospitals in Kisumu and Mombasa, and their 59 health centres.

At the same time that the University is helping more Kenyans to lead healthy lives, it is also working to improve the quality of education in the country’s schools.

Our Institute for Educational Development is collaborating with other AKDN agencies on a five-year project to increase learning among pre-primary and primary students in marginalized communities across East Africa. Already, AKDN has trained more than 8,500 school leaders and educators in Kenya as part of this project, reaching over one million students – the majority of whom are in government schools.

Through our Graduate School of Media and Communications, we are helping to foster an ethical, independent and innovative media and communications sector. We are doing so because we believe the success of any democratic society depends on the public and policymakers having access to reliable information and well-informed perspectives.

In the last two years, the School’s world-class faculty has trained nearly 700 journalists. Currently, documentaries produced with its assistance are airing every Wednesday on NTV, in a series called Giving Nature a Voice. These documentaries focus on the many environmental challenges Kenya and East Africa are facing, as well as the initiatives that have arisen to meet them. In November, the School is joining forces with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to offer a course in adaptive leadership for executives here in Nairobi.

Our East African Institute is engaging with government and private-sector organizations to develop new insights that contribute to the formation of public policy. Its research on urban food systems has produced evidence that can be used to promote the availability and diversity of fresh, locally grown foods for city dwellers. And its work in the nascent oil sector is focused on averting the resource curse in places like Turkana.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that we could not undertake all these initiatives without strong external support. As AKU is a nonprofit university dedicated to high quality, our academic programmes cost us far more to operate than we receive in tuition. This means we must provide substantial subsidies to keep them affordable for students.
 
Fortunately, we have received significant financial assistance from the Governments of Canada, France and Germany, as well as from private organizations such as the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, and the Hilton, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. We are grateful to all of our supporters and private donors. We are profoundly grateful to our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, for his continuous financial support, strategic direction, vision and guidance.  

We are also very grateful to the Government of Kenya, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Commission for University Education. Their support and counsel have been invaluable and will continue to be critical to AKU’s success.

Graduands, some of you may have read or heard about the Kenya Youth Survey conducted by AKU’s East African Institute. It asked 1,850 Kenyans between the ages of 18 and 35 about their values, ambitions and anxieties.

In some cases, it is true, their answers offered cause for concern. Yet the survey also made it clear that a large majority of Kenya’s young people are full of optimism, passion and a sense that the most valuable things in life cannot be measured in shillings.

Almost nine in 10 said education is more important than money. Asked to name the three things they consider most important, they chose faith over all contenders by a large margin. Three-quarters or more said they have the skills and education needed to be good citizens and to excel in their careers. Nine in 10 described themselves as confident and ready for change, and two-thirds said they have the power to make a difference in the world.

We were not in the least surprised by such results. For it is precisely such values and qualities that have enabled you to succeed here at AKU. During your time with us, you have demonstrated integrity, perseverance, creativity and a deep desire to enable others to develop their talents and lead fulfilling lives.

Now, you have the opportunity to join the countless people here at AKU, across Kenya and around the world who are working to address the toughest challenges humanity faces.

You will notice I have used the word “opportunity” rather than “responsibility.” I have done so deliberately. Having been president of this University for a decade, I speak from my own experience when I say that to work on behalf of a great cause, to seek to do what has never been done, is an experience as thrilling as any you will ever know.

There is no greater reward than the knowledge that your efforts have deeply and positively impacted the lives of a great many people. The chance to experience that knowledge for yourself is an opportunity indeed – one I urge you not to miss.

Thank you, and congratulations to all of you. Go forth and make us proud. I look forward to learning of your many achievements in the years to come.  

Asanteni Sana.

 

speech_179476 <p>"There is no greater reward than the knowledge that your efforts have deeply and positively impacted the lives of a great many people. The chance to experience that knowledge for yourself is an opportunity indeed – one I urge you not to miss."</p> English
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