During the Peterson Lecture given for the 40th Anniversary of the International Baccalaureate (IB), His Highness the Aga Khan related a story from his schooldays in Switzerland. His sports coach, a refugee who fled what was then Czechoslovakia with only the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet, eventually made it to the United States and became a successful business executive. This man’s story illustrated to His Highness that even without material possessions, a well-educated mind offers one the chance to seize life’s opportunities and even start all over again if required.
Crucial to the development of a well-educated mind is the role of teachers, as is highlighted by the progress reported in 2018 toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for Quality Education. Similarly, a recent OECD publication notes, “Nowhere does the quality of a school system exceed the quality of its teachers.”
The Aga Khan Academies are also committed to improving the quality of education and building local capacity by developing potential in both our students and our staff. In the words of His Highness, “The intellectual and moral quality of the Academies depends not only on our curriculum design, but on the quality and dedication of our teachers. A major goal of the Academies is therefore to restore the public standing of the teaching profession so that future generations of educated men and women come to see in teaching a great, valid and rewarding opportunity in life.”
Considering teaching a noble profession, we are dedicated to developing our local Academies’ teachers and education leaders and invest heavily in building their skills and knowledge with the help of expert educators from around the globe. Around 80 percent of each Academy is intentionally staffed with local teachers.
One of the principal means by which the Academies identify local talent and develop them to its standard is the Teacher Preparation Programme (TPP). Candidates for the TPP – usually graduates in education from partner universities in countries where the Academies are located – participate in a short practical programme at an Academy. The programme culminates in the selection of six to eight TPP interns who represent a pipeline of future teachers for the Academies. Over the following eighteen months, these promising young teachers are trained at an Academy through this unique, hands-on programme centred on a problem-based learning methodology. The programme then leads to certification as trained IB teachers. It should be noted that the Academies’ TPP is the only fully school-based programme of its kind to be recognised and certificated by the IB.
Thus far, 30 teachers have completed the TPP, most of whom are now employed in Academies or Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) schools. There are six interns currently in training; earlier this month, a mixed cohort of four Kenyan and four Mozambican teachers began the programme in Mombasa. Through the solid career training provided by the TPP, the Academies is helping these young, local teachers to gain a deep and personal understanding of the AKDN, the Academies and the customisation of the IB curriculum through the Aga Khan Strands. In the process, they become markedly engaged and committed to their role in the development of the talent and leadership of their country.
One of the great strengths of the TPP model is that we can leverage the Academies’ network by developing teachers for an upcoming Academy with training in an established one. This model was piloted at the Aga Khan Academy Maputo by sending interns to Mombasa. The model will be expanded to Hyderabad for teachers at the future Academy in Dhaka. Plans are being developed to scale the TPP model over the next five years to prepare teachers in other future Academy locations and for the network more broadly.
Graham Ranger is the Academic Director at the Aga Khan Academies.