“Our purpose is to educate the most talented young minds from many countries for a global future,” says Aga Khan
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, 20 September 2013 — The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, a new, not-for-profit school situated on an expansive 100-acre campus, was officially inaugurated today by the Chief Minister of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Honourable Sri N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, and the Minister for Human Resource Development, the Honourable Dr M.M. Pallam Raju, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
The Academy, situated near the Rajiv Gandhi airport on land gifted by the government of Andhra Pradesh, is the second in a global network of 18 schools being established across South and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The first Academy is located in Mombasa, Kenya and the third is in Maputo, Mozambique. Plans are currently underway for developments in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
The Academies are founded on the basis of the Aga Khan’s vision to develop home-grown leaders who possess a strong sense of ethics and civic responsibility, and who will contribute to their country’s future.
“I think the Aga Khan Academy is another feather in the cap of Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh,” commended Chief Minister Shri Kiran Kumar Reddy. “This school will teach the children an overall development of their personality and make excellent citizens, not only for this city or state, but for the world.”
The Aga Khan thanked the Government of Andhra Pradesh for its generosity in making the site available, adding that the network concept was one which made the academy endeavour a unique and distinctive one. “And if there is one central thought I would like to have you take away from this day, it is the interconnected, international dimension of our envisioned academy experience,” he said.
“It has become commonplace to talk of an inter-connected planet, with global communities of trade and finance, science and medicine, governance and diplomacy, education and culture,” continued the Aga Khan. “It is our intention that our Academy graduates will eventually become accomplished leaders in all of these fields.”
The Academy provides talented girls and boys from all backgrounds with an all-round education of the highest international standards. Students are selected based on merit, irrespective of their ability to pay; today over 50 percent of the Academy’s students receive full or partial bursaries to attend. By intentionally bringing a diverse group of students to study and live together, the Academy aims to help build understanding and appreciation across different cultures and sectors of society. Students gain experience in working with and in building consensus amongst people of diverse backgrounds.
The Academy’s programme is based on the widely recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and designed to promote academic excellence, leadership skills, social responsibility and a pluralistic outlook. Students develop an understanding of both global and local issues, and are encouraged to use critical thinking skills and creativity to find innovative solutions to problems. The international curriculum is strengthened by additional areas of study developed specifically for students of the Academies in partnership with a team of accomplished scholars and specialists and includes ethics, pluralism, cultures, economics for development, and governance and civil society, to further develop the leaders of tomorrow. The strong co-curricular programme provides opportunities for applying leadership skills, and ensures all-round development by balancing academic demands with sports, cultural activities and community service.
The Academies make a strong commitment to the development of their faculty. Each Academy incorporates a Professional Development Centre for teacher training and curricular innovation. The Centre in Hyderabad functions not only for the benefit of the Academy but, through its outreach programme, extends modern teaching and learning methods to government and other not-for-profit schools, both locally and regionally. Globally, the Academies have trained over 2,000 teachers and teacher-trainers through a system that links to a network of 1,000 schools. Thus far, over 100 teachers from 80 schools in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy Districts have been trained, thereby benefitting the Andhra Pradesh school system. As an agency of the AKDN, the Aga Khan Academies is able to access expertise to enhance teaching and learning from within the Academies network and from other AKDN agencies.
The Minister for Human Resources Development, Dr Pallam Raju, acknowledged the work of the Aga Khan Development Network and His Highness’ family, noting that for generations they had contributed to the progress of India. “The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad is incredibly well aligned with our vision for education for our children,” he said. “Very importantly and unlike most other schools, the Academy seeks to help realise this vision beyond its own campus.
“Having a centre of excellence with a mission to share and demonstrate the best practices in teaching and learning,” noted the Minister, “makes this Academy an invaluable asset for upgrading the quality of education across India.”
The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad is committed to excellence in all aspects of education. A team of educationalists from amongst the best institutions worked with Sasaki Associates of Boston, to develop the principles and guidelines for campus planning. The Academy’s purpose-built campus – designed by award-winning Bimal Patel of HCP in Ahmedabad – hosts state-of-the art academic spaces with dedicated science and computer laboratories, IT centres, and library and resource centres. Its sports facilities include a swimming pool, a diving pool, a sports fields, a cricket pitch, as well as tennis and squash courts, all built to international standards. There are track and field facilities as well as a centre for aerobics, dance and fitness. The extensive arts facilities include rooms for fine arts, music and dance; individual music practice rooms; and a music recording area and performance space.
The Academy is a residential campus with housing for students, teachers and administrators. Students live in safe house-like clusters of 24 to 48 students, closely supervised by three to six members of faculty in residence. The residential programme is designed to promote the learning and growth that comes from constant interaction with a diverse and talented group of teachers and peers. Students of all backgrounds come from across India and internationally, and develop close relationships while learning how to negotiate and appreciate diversity. Residential students participate in a range of engaging and challenging activities that promote self-discipline, build confidence and expand their abilities.
The low student-to-teacher ratio optimises student-faculty interaction and greatly enriches learning. Three-hundred fifty students are currently enrolled at the school, and the number is expected to increase to 1,200 at full capacity.
The network of Aga Khan Academies will eventually span 14 countries, and international exchanges and collaboration amongst students and teachers will be a notable feature of the Academies programme. Students will gain global and cross-cultural perspectives, international awareness and open-mindedness, as well as a stronger sense of their own local roots and cultural identity. Graduates of the first Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, have proceeded to some of the best universities in the world, many with substantial scholarships. Through their choice of activities and career goals, Academy graduates are demonstrating a strong commitment to community service and a desire to support the long-term development of their countries and regions of origin.
The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad has been designed by the award-winning architect, Bimal Patel of HCP in Ahmedabad, and built by one of India’s premier construction firms, Shahpoorji Pallonji. Planning was carried out by leading architects and planners Sasaki and Associates of Boston.
The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) are private, international, non-denominational development organisations. They work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa. While each agency pursues its own mandate, all of them work together within the overarching framework of the Network so that their different pursuits interact and reinforce one another. The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world and employs approximately 80,000 people. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities is approximately US$ 600 million. The project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) generate revenues of approximately US$ 2.3 billion annually. All AKFED surpluses are reinvested in further development activities.
The AKDN has been involved in education in the developing world for over a century. Its education programmes cover a wide spectrum of activities, from early childhood to post-secondary education, teacher training, literacy programmes, school improvement and educational policy reform. The Aga Khan Education Services, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Aga Khan University, the Aga Khan Academies and the University of Central Asia are the Network's lead organisations in education.