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  • Uganda’s Minister of State for Health Sarah Achieng Opendi speaking at the Aga Khan University’s convocation ceremony in Kampala, Uganda.
Aga Khan University Convocation 2017, Uganda

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.