Gouvieux, France, 28 October 2010 – The Aga Khan Development Network Foundation (AKDN Foundation) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) agreed today to intensify joint efforts to broaden access to quality education for students across the developing world and provide richer and more global perspectives to those in the industrialised world.
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed at AKDN’s headquarters north of Paris, provides a framework for strengthened cooperation in the advancement of education and the improvement of delivery of education services through AKDN agencies such as the Aga Khan Academies, the Aga Khan Education Services, the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia. It covers the entire spectrum of education from early childhood to secondary school, graduate studies and continuing professional learning for educators.
The Memorandum was signed by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Head of AKDN’s Social Welfare Department, and by Jeff Beard, Director General of the IB. His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, and Carol Bellamy, Chair of the IB Board of Governors, were present at the signing.
Princess Zahra Aga Khan praised the agreement as a milestone in cooperation between AKDN and the IB.
“The agreement is an important step in an already strong relationship we have with the International Baccalaureate, not only because it will enable our educational institutions to benefit from the educational philosophy, curriculum expertise and academic excellence associated with the IB, but also because it will be instrumental in bridging cultural divides and traditions,” she said.
The IB’s Director General Jeff Beard hailed the agreement as an important move in expanding the organisation’s geographic reach.
“This is a significant development as it will allow IB to extend its reach in developing countries and draw upon the wealth of expertise AKDN has in providing education to students in some of the poorest and most challenging parts of the world,” he said. “It will help us to broaden our international curricula with specific attention paid to the developing world and Muslim societies. AKDN is recognised for its decades of experience in countries where we would like to strengthen our presence.”
The agreement results from a strong alignment of goals and values between the two organisations, including a commitment to pluralism, a desire to increase access to quality education, particularly in the developing world, and shared perspectives on issues such as the importance of ongoing teacher development, and inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two organisations also commit to exploring opportunities in areas such as curriculum development, graduate education, the professional recognition and development of teachers, and advocacy relating to academic freedom.
The AKDN is in the process of establishing an integrated network of residential schools offering an international standard of education from pre-primary to secondary levels with a rigorous academic and leadership-development experience. The schools, which will be established in Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East, will admit students based on merit, irrespective of the ability to pay. The Academies’ network, which intends to follow the IB’s curriculum, will complement the already existing network of some 300 schools and programmes operated by the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) in twelve countries, providing education to rural and urban students from pre-primary to higher secondary levels. Several of the AKES schools already offer the IB programmes.
The Network’s international universities, such as the Aga Khan University (AKU) with its nine campuses worldwide, and the University of Central Asia (UCA) not only provide students with an internationally recognised standard of higher education but also offer teacher training and development through Professional Development Centres, the AKU’s Institute for Educational Development and the UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education. For further information on the Aga Khan Development Network’s educational activities, please visit www.akdn.org/education.
The International Baccalaureate is a Swiss-based not-for profit foundation which offers three high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For over 40 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalised 21st century, and for helping to develop the citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. For more information about the IB and its programmes, visit www.ibo.org
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