Dhaka, Bangladesh, 20 May 2008 – His Highness the Aga Khan today laid a foundation stone for Bangladesh’s first Aga Khan Academy, emphasising the centrality of quality education in the Islamic tradition. “World and faith are inseparable in Islam. Faith and learning are also profoundly interconnected,” he said.
Speaking at an official ceremony at the site of the future Academy in Dhaka’s Bashundhara District, attended by
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman praised the Aga Khan for his inspiring integrated vision for quality education which encompasses messages of opportunity, ambition, respect for cultural heritage and the importance of ethical behaviour - and thanked him for choosing
The Aga Khan also stressed the need to regard national and cultural identity as key assets in education. “A fully homogenized world would be far less attractive and interesting. The roots we inherit from our history – linking us to a particular past – are a great source of strength and joy and inspiration,” he said, announcing that the
However, the Aga Khan cautioned that the effort to preserve national identity should not compromise diversity and openness to the outside world. “In the process of nurturing a healthy sense of identity, we must resist the temptation to normatise any particular culture, to demonise “the other”, and to turn healthy diversity into dangerous discord.”
The Aga Khan said the Academy undertaking was likely to be particularly successful in
“In the final analysis, the Academies project will face an age-old challenge as it moves ahead - the challenge of balancing the universal and the particular - the global and the local - as influences in human life,” he said.
Addressing the same ceremony, the Director of the Academies Programme, Salim Bhatia, noted that it was the Bengali Nobel Prize winning poet, novelist and playwright Rabindranath Tagore, who coined the term “global village.”
“The Aga Khan Academy in Dhaka will exist to develop leaders with a pluralistic sensibility, individuals who are proudly Bangladeshi, yet connected to the larger cosmopolitan global village described by Tagore over a century ago,” he said.
The Aga Khan Academies Programme will eventually encompass a network of 18 schools in a total of 14 countries scattered across Africa, Central and South Asia and the
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The Aga Khan Development Network
His Highness the Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social development is in excess of US$ 300 million.
Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan
His Highness the Aga Khan completed his 50th year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on 11th July 2007, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah. The Aga Khan leads a community of 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries around the world and is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). In the Ismaili tradition, the Imam’s Jubilee celebrations offer occasions to launch new social, cultural and economic development projects. In keeping with the ethics of the faith, these projects aspire to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society. During the Jubilee year, the Aga Khan will travel to a number of countries to meet with members of the Ismaili community, visit projects of the AKDN and announce the creation of new development institutions and projects and the significant expansion of existing ones