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The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

Founded in 1967, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is now a major non-governmental organization (NGO) active in health, education and rural development. With roots in the third world and support in the West, it cooperates with more than thirty other national and international agencies to finance programmes, primarily in Africa and Asia. To encourage a new generation of development practitioners aware of the realities of the third world, it also provides scholarships, training and internships to young people from developing and industrialized countries. AKF's headquarters are in Switzerland. It has branches in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Portugal and affiliates in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

While AKF is a funding agency, it also involves itself actively in the genesis and evolution of its projects, as well as learning from the experiments it funds. It is especially interested in innovative approaches to selected problems of development, which it supports through closely monitored grants to organizations that share the Foundation's goals.

Within its three areas of involvement, AKF pursues specific thematic concerns. In health, it supports projects that aim to promote health status of the poor, and has developed approaches to community-based primary health care (PHC), primary health care technology and community-oriented health personnel over the past ten years.

AKF's education portfolio is divided into two thematic areas: Young Children and the Family, and Improving the Quality of Schools. AKF is one of the few international agencies to emphasize early childhood care and development. Its goal is to fund projects, which meet the needs of young children in ways that are appropriate to the cultural context of family and community. In the area of educational quality, its priorities are improving the quality of the local school, training teachers on the job, producing low-cost curriculum materials, and reforming school management.

AKF's rural development programme has focused on poverty alleviation in fragile and degraded environments through participatory organization and better management of natural resources. Over the past decades, it has established two major programmes that foster the development of the rural poor

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