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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
AKU Convocation ceremony 2017 in Kampala http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-_dsc7697.jpg Kampala, Uganda Monday, 13 February 2017 1486807200 Speech by AKU President, Firoz Rasul, at the Convocation ceremony in Kampala speech Uganda 2010s 8941 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-_dsc7697.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education,Health

Our Chief Guest, Honorable State Minister for Health Sarah Achieng Opendi
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,

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, Honorable State Minister for Health Sarah Achieng Opendi, 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 have studied them in your time here, and witnessed them in your lives and careers.

Seventeen years ago, the nations of the world, Uganda 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 great credit, Uganda met or came very close to meeting many of them. It substantially reduced the proportion of people living in poverty, putting it among the top performers in Sub-Saharan Africa. It sharply decreased the number of children suffering from malaria. It was one of only a dozen low-income countries worldwide that reduced the child mortality rate by two-thirds or more – a most impressive achievement.

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

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 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 Uganda, have committed to achieve a new set of goals by 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals. If Uganda 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, AKU is working to make that vision a reality, as an educator of leaders, a provider of high-quality health care and a partner that helps public-sector institutions to improve the lives of those they serve.

Recently, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the partnership between the School of Nursing and Midwifery in East Africa and the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, which has provided scholarships for the vast majority of our nursing students. With the Trust’s support, we undertook a major study of the achievements of the School and its alumni. The study found our graduates are making a significant impact on health systems and the quality of nursing care. Nearly four in 10 are senior leaders, managers, educators or researchers, and the rest are at the bedside, directly involved in patient care. In addition, approximately seven out of 10 alumni were the first in their family to earn a university degree.

In keeping with its mission, the School of Nursing and Midwifery continues to address critical health issues in Uganda. Today, an estimated 40 percent of Ugandan women give birth without a nurse, midwife or doctor present. To expand access to quality care for women and their babies before, during and after birth, we launched one of Uganda’s first Bachelor of Science in Midwifery programmes in 2015. Our first class of midwives will complete their studies later this year.

Still to come is the University’s most important contribution yet to health care in Uganda. As many of you are aware, we will be building a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala that will provide access to treatments and technologies that are currently unavailable anywhere in the country. This will be the largest investment the University has made to date in Uganda.

Located in the heart of the city on 60 acres made available by the Government of Uganda, the Hospital will offer world-class care in everything from cardiology to infectious diseases, from neurology to obstetrics and gynaecology. With the Hospital in place, Ugandans will no longer need to leave the country in order to receive the very best care. And, very importantly, it will provide high-quality emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, serious injuries from traffic accidents, and other urgent conditions where a rapid response can make the difference between life and death.

As a teaching hospital, it will also make an essential contribution to the task of increasing the number of highly skilled health professionals in Uganda, such as nurses, midwives, specialist doctors, laboratory technicians and biomedical engineers, among others.

In his speech here in Kampala announcing the establishment of the Hospital, His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, spoke of the need to bring health care that meets global standards to Africa, and for government and the private sector to work together to do so. Africa’s people, he said, “cannot be isolated from the best simply because they have been born in countries outside the Western world.”

When the Hospital is built, he said, “it will have brought to Uganda modern medicine in the best conditions, in intimate partnership with public sector health care. We see the system working as one system, building on capacity, human resources, programming, and forward thinking.”

We are pleased that the Government shares this vision, and that it considers the development of the Hospital a national priority. And we are very grateful for the exceptional support it has provided, and the continuing commitment it has demonstrated to making the Hospital a reality.

At the same time as the University is expanding its role in Uganda’s health care system, it is also helping to improve the quality of pre-primary and primary education. Our Institute for Educational Development is working with other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network on a five-year project to improve learning outcomes in East Africa, with the support of Global Affairs Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. In Uganda, the Institute has already trained more than 900 heads and deputy heads of schools and educators under this project.

Graduands, some of you may have read or heard about the Uganda Youth Survey conducted by AKU’s East African Institute. It asked 1,800 Ugandans 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 Uganda’s young people are full of optimism, passion and a sense that the most valuable things in life cannot be measured in shillings.

Seven 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. Approximately three-quarters believe that hard work will be rewarded with success and consider themselves confident and ready to embrace change. More than half 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 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 healthy, fulfilling lives.

Now, you have the opportunity to join the countless people here at AKU, across Uganda 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. I look forward to learning of your many achievements in the years to come.

 

speech_179376 <p>"Still to come is the University’s most important contribution yet to health care in Uganda. As many of you are aware, we will be building a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala that will provide access to treatments and technologies that are currently unavailable anywhere in the country. This will be the largest investment the University has made to date in Uganda."</p> English
Aga Khan University Convocation 2017, Uganda http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-chief_guest_sarah_achieng_opendi-.jpg Kampala Monday, 13 February 2017 1486807200 Speech by Dr. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State for Health, at the Aga Khan University Convocation 2017, Uganda speech Uganda 2010s 179366 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-chief_guest_sarah_achieng_opendi-.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education,Health

Aga Khan University President Mr. Firoz Rasul,
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, Supporters and Distinguished Guests    
And most importantly, Graduands,

Seeing you all here today is uplifting and a sight to behold- I congratulate all of you. Most times, students lose focus in training and drop out of academic programmes half-way for so many reasons. Your determination and focus has however got you here, so well done!

  1. Up skilling of the nurses and midwives is helping to provide nurse leaders, who will be catalysts in improving nursing care quality: Majority of the Aga Khan University (AKU) alumni are involved in direct patient care hence ensuring quality outputs.  From our alumni survey, employers noted that AKU alumni are excellent planners, leaders, managers, administrators, supervisors, mentors, coaches and teachers. While the alumni already have jobs at graduation, they often get promoted at their work places and others have changed jobs for better prospects.  The graduates have been successful in exhibiting the program learning outcomes and as a result of the new skills acquired, they have found themselves being sought after and entrusted with leadership positions to bring change in nursing practice, education, and management.
  2. The programs at AKU are flexible work-study: The programmes offer unique opportunities for nurses and midwives in Uganda to obtain higher professional qualifications without leaving their workplace for extended period of time. Through its dynamic model of professional education, AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM) programmes build on the knowledge, skills and experience that individual nurses and midwives bring to the programme. This programme is based on lifelong learning framework, using a flexible approach. Since 2001, the school in Kampala has seen 644 nurses go through the programs.
  3. Good program completion rates: The success rate at AKU is approximately 90% for those who complete the program on time after enrollment. AKU provides a conducive learning environment with very good academic and support staff who ensure the students go through a rigorous program and complete on time.
  4. The Post Registered Nursing- Bachelor of Science in Nursing program has gone through a self-assessment and an external review. The Review was being conducted in accordance with AKU’s Academic Quality Framework. The Inter University Council for East Africa’s (IUCEA) handbook for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Guidelines for Self-Assessment at Program Level was used. Overall, the external review team unanimously concluded that this is a good programme. The external review team visited the school in June 2016.
  5. AKU has been able to establish a scholarship scheme for needy students. AKU extends partial scholarships to these students with significant financial need. This is possible because of the support from The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust. The scholarship Programme is aimed to assist genuinely needy students who are unable to meet their educations expenditure. These students receive support of between 30percent and 80 percent of fees. AKU also provides for flexible and convenient students tuition payment system which allows the student nurses and midwives to progress through the program with less financial stress.
  6. AKU has continued to support the harmonization of nursing and midwifery education, practice and legislation. Regulators and employers valued the work currently being done by SONAM-EA to assist the harmonization process of nursing and midwifery education, practice and legislation across East Africa.  Regulators also recognize the valuable contribution of SONAM-EA in promoting the development of schemes of service (official titles and ranks of the profession) and seek ongoing support in this area. The need for harmonization was affirmed by the 3rd and 4th Ordinary Meetings of the East Africa Community (EAC) Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health and also the 15th and the 18th Ordinary Meetings of the EAC Council of Ministers that considered the progress of regional cooperation and integration in the health sector.
  7. AKU Hospital in Kampala, once complete, will provide a good clinical teaching environment.

So even as you get out there, the solid foundation AKU has given you through the rigorous training is a lifetime empowerment that this country needs. And so, dear graduands, go out in faith- armed with skill and competence and most importantly, ethical consideration in all aspects of your career practice. I wish you well and congratulations!

Thank you.

 

speech_179371 <p>"From our alumni survey, employers noted that AKU alumni are excellent planners, leaders, managers, administrators, supervisors, mentors, coaches and teachers."</p> English
Aga Khan University's Convocation ceremony, Dar es Salaam http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-ap1_6521_r.jpg Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Thursday, 9 February 2017 1486545300 Speech by chief guest, Mr. Lila Mkila, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania at the AKU Convocation, Dar es Salaam speech Tanzania 2010s 179311 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-ap1_6521_r.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education

President 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 those graduating today:

It is an honor and a great pleasure to be here to share this important occasion with you.   

First, I would like to congratulate each and every graduand. This is a defining moment for all of you. It is a day of a celebration – a day when you look back on the many challenges you have overcome, and look forward to those that lie ahead, knowing that you have the skills and knowledge needed to meet them. It is a day that you never forget.

I remember my own graduation quite well, and I can assure you that I could not have guessed I would go on to my current position as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania. No doubt the time will come in your own careers when you think back to today and are amazed at how far you have travelled, and how much you have achieved. That is the power of a great education: by turning you into a lifelong learner, it makes it possible to adapt, to grow and to do what you once would have thought inconceivable.

Graduands, I know that you have made many sacrifices in order to earn your degrees. But I believe it is important on this occasion to recognize not only your own efforts but the efforts of those who have supported you on your journeys. I have in mind your family members. The opportunity to pursue higher education rarely comes without a cost to the student’s family – whether that cost be financial, or whether it involves sacrifices of time, or the accumulation of responsibilities that allow the learner to focus on his or her studies.

Similarly, I would note that none of us would be here today were it not for the faculty and staff of the University. You too should feel proud today.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the importance of higher education to the future of Tanzania and the rest of East Africa can hardly be overstated. In 2007, shortly before he became Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Dr. Benno Ndulu authored a report with several colleagues at the World Bank on “The Challenges of African Growth.” [https://tinyurl.com/hha52em]

The report identified four areas where investment was critical to accelerating economic growth and improving people’s well-being. One of them was innovation, and within that area, higher education was identified as especially important. In its essence, the argument was simple: the more educated and skilled a person, the more productive and innovative they tend to be, and hence the greater their contribution to economic growth.

The amount of knowledge and technology that we can draw upon today in order to solve the many challenges we face is staggering. The smartphones we carry in our pockets are more powerful devices than the supercomputers that were in use when I was studying for my MBA.

Yet we still face a dilemma: if we don’t have enough people to act on the basis of that knowledge, or to use that technology, very little will change. As Dr. Ndulu’s report stated: “Like a big book in the sky, technological knowledge and inventions are a global public good. But one can only use them if one can reach the book, turn the pages and read from it.”

Hence, the report called for an expansion in university enrollment (and, interestingly, it cited former AKU Trustee Calestous Juma!). And it urged that the growth in the number of private universities continue.

Graduands, you are the kinds of individuals that Dr. Ndulu’s report envisioned: those who have the ability not only to turn the pages of that big book in the sky, but to add a chapter to it of your own, which others might learn from and put to good use.

And, similarly, the Aga Khan University is the kind of institution we need more of: globally connected, focused on quality and striving to make a difference in people’s lives. When I think of what AKU has accomplished and invested in Tanzania – and the fact that it plans to invest even more – I think we are quite lucky. That commitment shows great faith in our country and its future.

Above all, though, graduands – we need you. We need every one of you, and all of your energy, passion and talent. As nurses, doctors and teachers, you are some of the most valuable professionals that we have.
 
To those of you who are educators: the future is quite literally in your hands. We will be counting on you to develop the future scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, policymakers and politicians that we need. It is a weighty responsibility that rests on your shoulders. But I have no doubt that you are equal to the task. You would not be sitting here today if that were not the case.

To those of you who are doctors and nurses: we need you not only to heal the sick who present themselves to you, but – as you have learned in your time at AKU – to educate the public so that people can avoid illness in the first place. If you can do that, the contribution you will make will be truly enormous.

“Education,” Nelson Mandela famously said, “is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Now it is up to you to prove to it.

Congratulations again, and God bless you!
 

 

speech_179316 <p>"Ladies and gentlemen, the importance of higher education to the future of Tanzania and the rest of East Africa can hardly be overstated."</p> English
Aga Khan University's Convocation ceremony, Dar es Salaam http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-_mg_4567-firoz-rasul.jpg Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Thursday, 9 February 2017 1486544400 Speech by President Firoz Rasul at the AKU Convocation ceremony, Dar es Salaam Education and knowledge society speech Tanzania 2010s 8941 1 http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-_mg_4567-firoz-rasul.jpg Aga Khan University convocation ceremony Education

Our Chief Guest, Mr. Lila Mkila, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania
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,

Karibuni 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 Mr. Lila Mkila 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 have studied them in your time here, and witnessed them in your lives and careers.

Seventeen years ago, the nations of the world, Tanzania 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, Tanzania met a number of them, and took great strides toward meeting others. It was, for example, one of just a dozen low-income countries worldwide to reduce its child mortality rate by two-thirds or more – a most impressive performance.

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

But what do such problems represent, if not the great task that we are all seeking, and for which your education has prepared you? With the skills 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 to unite behind a common agenda for the betterment of humanity has not diminished. 193 countries, including Tanzania, have committed to achieve a new set of goals by 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals. If Tanzania 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, AKU is working to make that vision a reality, as an educator of leaders, a provider of high-quality health care and education and a partner that helps public-sector institutions to improve the lives of those they serve.

Already, Aga Khan Health Services Tanzania provides health care to nearly 400,000 people in Tanzania annually. That number is set to rise significantly: the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam is in the midst of a major expansion that will see it double its capacity, add specialties, and open 22 health centres, all with the financial support of the French Development Agency.

At the same time, the Hospital has gone to great lengths to provide patients with outstanding care. Last year, it became the first hospital in Tanzania to be accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International. That was the culmination of a two-year process of preparation leading to an on-site examination by experts who evaluated the Hospital on more than a thousand standards.

As part of the Hospital’s transformation, the University has expanded its Postgraduate Medical Education programme. In addition to training family medicine specialists, we are now training surgeons and internal medicine specialists. Graduates of these programmes will play a key role in making advanced care more widely available, both as clinicians and as educators.

We also continue to invest in our School of Nursing and Midwifery. Last year, the University completed the renovation and expansion of Salama House here in Dar es Salaam to give our faculty and students new classrooms, laboratories and other facilities – a project made possible by the financial support of the Federal Republic of Germany.

With the support of the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, which has provided scholarships for our nurses for 15 years, we undertook a major study of the School and its alumni. That study found our graduates are making a significant impact on health systems and the quality of nursing care. Nearly four in 10 are senior leaders, managers, educators or researchers, and the rest are at the bedside, directly involved in patient care. Currently, the University is talking with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Ministry of Health about offering either a bachelor’s or master’s level midwifery qualification to help ensure expectant mothers and their babies get the care they need before, during and after delivery.

Our Institute for Educational Development, East Africa (IED, EA) 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, the project has trained more than 1,000 educators and officials in Tanzania. In November, the Institute’s National Education Conference in Dodoma brought together more than 100 stakeholders from across East Africa to address education challenges and opportunities. The construction of its permanent home on Sam Nujoma Road awaits the outcome of discussions with the Government.

IED, EA has today seen 30 graduates conferred with a master’s degree. After today’s convocation, the Institute has over 300 graduates practicing across East Africa, a truly regional programme with wide representation from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The School of Nursing and Midwifery awarded 17 bachelor degrees, leading to a total of 623 diploma and degree holders in Tanzania to date. In medicine, there was one graduate from the Postgraduate Medical Education programme.

Notably however is AKU’s significant impact in Tanzania over the years, and through this commitment today Tanzania enjoys tremendous improvement in the public education system. The Strengthening Education Systems in East Africa (SESEA) which is now fully established in Mtwara and Dar es Salaam has trained over 1,000 teachers who impact at least 75,000 pupils. The Fursa Kwa Watoto programme in Mwanza trains head teachers, deputy head teachers and pre-primary teachers and to date about 600 are beneficiaries of this programme- impacting about 10,000 pupils in Tanzania in the past year alone. At least 90 public schools in Mwanza and Kilimanjaro are beneficiaries of the Fursa Kwa Watoto projects.

That same goal is at the heart of a new project the University and other agencies of the AKDN are undertaking in Mwanza with the support of Global Affairs Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. There, we will be working with district hospitals, dispensaries and health centres to improve the health of more than 250,000 pregnant women and newborn babies over four years.

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

Still to come is the University’s largest project ever in East Africa: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Arusha. Students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will receive a liberal arts education that prepares them for leadership, inspires them to pursue audacious goals and instills a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. They will develop the ability to think critically, write clearly, tackle problems creatively, value pluralism and ponder the deepest questions. When they graduate, they will have the skills employers covet, and the capacities needed for a life of active and engaged citizenship.  Design work on the campus continues. Construction will be planned once discussions with the Government are concluded.

All these projects are in support of the Government’s goals to improve the education and health of the people of Tanzania.

Graduands, some of you may have read or heard about the Tanzania Youth Survey conducted by AKU’s East African Institute. It asked 1,900 Tanzanians between the ages of 18 and 35 about their values, ambitions and anxieties.

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

Seven 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. Approximately three-quarters said that hard work will be rewarded with success that people should help those in need, and that it is important to embrace change. Two-thirds felt they have the skills needed to be good citizens, and six in 10 said they have the power to make a difference in the world.

We are not in the least surprised by such results. For it is precisely such 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 a fulfilling life.

Now, you have the opportunity to join the countless people here at AKU, across Tanzania 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. I look forward to learning of your many achievements in the years to come.  

 

speech_179301 <p>"With the skills 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."</p> English
Graduation Ceremony of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2016/1_aka_mombasa_graduation_2_r.jpg Wednesday, 8 February 2017 1463839200 Speech by H.E. Margaret Kenyatta during the Graduation Ceremony of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa speech Kenya 2010s 179271 1 Aga Khan Academies Education

Thank you all for the warm welcome and for the gracious invitation to be part of such an important annual event in this institution.

I’m so pleased to be here.

Graduating Class of 2016, Congratulations!!

You’ve made it! Your dedication, years of hard work, hours and hours of study and private persistence have finally paid off.

You’ve come to the end of a highly demanding high school career and you’ve done so with poise and excellence.

I’m truly amazed at the success and potential of this class: you’ve gained admissions to some of the world’s most reputable universities, including Yale, Johns Hopkins, NYU, McGill and University of Toronto. Many of you have received exceptional levels of financial aid to attend such schools. As a class, you’ve received more than $4.5 million worth of scholarships!  That is impressive.

All 68 of you have finished well, and you all deserve absolutely every accolade you receive today, and I add mine: well done!!

Parents and guardians of these children, I imagine you must be very, very proud. From one parent to another, congratulations! Undoubtedly, we wouldn’t be celebrating today if it weren’t for your unfailing encouragement and steady support to this class.

Teachers and faculty—this year group’s successes are undeniably yours as well. We honor your diverse investments in this dynamic class.

Ultimately, the success of any child, any student, and any class truly takes the support of a village.  Today, I congratulate the village that is Aga khan Academy for work well done! And I can personally say how proud His Highness and family are of you too.

I have watched all three of my now adult children sit in the very same position you’re in right now.  So I know that closing one chapter of life, and broaching the beginning of another can bring a mixed bag of feelings: anticipation and anxiety, excitement, elation and uncertainty. You are at the nexus of big changes.  Soon, you’ll be in University—more independent, less exposed to the scrutiny of your parents and teachers.

Many of you will be thousands of miles away; scattered everywhere from South Africa to Singapore, from the United States to the United Arab Emirates, from the United Kingdom to Canada.  You all have a lot of new choices to make—and those choices will determine your destiny.  That can be a daunting reality and at some point, you might wonder whether you were really ready for such a brave new world.

Today, I want to encourage you because I believe that you are ready.  I believe you’re ready for the ups and downs that lie ahead of you—the difficult choices, and demanding workloads, the peculiar challenges, and unprecedented successes. The hard work, the hiccups, the heartbreaks and the happiness that, hopefully, the future holds for all of you.

And I believe you’re ready, not just because you can successfully tackle maths, or memorize history, or analyze poetry; not because you can dissect creatures, or effectively explain chemical reactions—although all of these things are incredibly important and you’ve proved you can do them well.

But I believe you’re ready for the future, for the rest of life, because of all the other things you have learned here.

You’ve been privileged to be part of a school–and surrounded by faculty–that has invested not just in molding your minds, but in inspiring your hearts, too. Here, you’ve been taught to think critically, and act compassionately. You’ve learned to read diligently and live responsibly. You’ve been encouraged to create, collaborate, and embrace curiosity.   You’ve been taught to live with diverse people, and treat all people with dignity and respect. Here, you’ve learned to serve through service clubs like CanCare, AniCare and Interact Club.  In short, you’ve been taught to leverage your talents not just for personal success, but to build a better world.

Unfortunately, our world has many challenges and as young adults you will face painful and pressing problems to deal with.   There are issues that need addressing; people that need loving; communities that need serving, problems that need solving.

And you’ll have a choice how you will deal with that.  You could be indifferent or apathetic, but I believe this school and your parents have taught you better than that.  I believe Aga Khan Academy has taught you that the plight of others is important; and that the problems around us, ultimately, affect all of us, and that because you’ve been given so much, you must give that much more back to the world.

I believe you’ve been prepared to do just that—to give MUCH. That will be, in part, by contributing your gifts and brilliant minds to the world: by making biomedical discoveries that change lives, or designing rockets for space, or coding incredible websites or standing for justice as lawyers or treating the sick as doctors —or carrying out whatever your preferred career path will be, and doing so with excellence.

But it will also mean much more than that, too. It will mean being reliable friends, and faithful family, and upstanding, engaged citizens.   It will mean choosing to stand for something, and not being morally apathetic. It will mean being kind and patient, considerate and honest.   It will mean following your conscience and being willing to stand for what’s right, even when what’s right isn’t necessarily popular.

That’s the kind of person, your school, mentors, parents and guardians all have been trying to mold you to be. And that’s the kind of person the world needs you to be – young adults working in the service of noble goals held by compassionate and caring hearts.

And that’s what I want you to do as you go out into the world. Wherever you go, whatever you choose to do—. I am convinced that as each of you goes on to shine your light in whatever little corner of the planet you’ll find yourselves in, our world will be a much brighter, and much better place.

My personal request to you is that you come back home and shine here!

Thank you for your attention.

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