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The Aga Khan University (AKU)

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

With the faculty of Health Sciences and the Institute for Educational Development in Pakistan, the Aga Khan University (AKU) occupies a pivotal place in the Network's social development activities. Inaugurated in 1985, its purpose is to provide higher education and stimulate research pertinent to Pakistan and the developing world, while maintaining internationally accepted academic standards. Along with its educational aims and its mission to promote the welfare of the people of Pakistan, AKU is a major center for health sciences training, continuing education, technical assistance and research. Planned with the support of the medical schools of Harvard University and McGill University, AKU's Faculty of Health Sciences includes both a Medical College and a School of Nursing, and is affiliated to the Aga Khan University Hospital, which is located on the same campus. The Faculty of Health Sciences and the Aga Khan University Hospital together for the Aga Khan University Medical Centre (AKYNC).

The Medical College has a two-pronged approaches to medical education that includes both medical care in the environment of a technologically advanced teaching hospital, and the delivery of primary care to the poor in the katchi abadis, or shantytowns of Karachi. Medical students are trained to deal with the health problems of the third world through a curriculum that emphasizes both medical and community health sciences. The acquire clinical experience not only in the Aga Khan University Hospital, but also in primary care programmes in Karachi's poorest neighbourhood.

The School of Nursing Shares the Medical College's goals in delivering high quality care in both the hospital and the community environment. It also aims to establish new standards and a higher status for the nursing profession in Pakistan: its Baccalaureate Programme, designed to train leaders in nursing services and education, is the first of its kind in Pakistan. The School has benefited from privileged links with McMaster University in Canada. For both the Medical College and the School of Nursing, the principal site for clinical training is the Aga Khan University Hospital, a major teaching hospital that provides a broad range of secondary care and related specialized service. Care is available to all, regardless of creed; patients unable to pay receive care under a variety of subsidy and welfare schemes.

AKU's Institute for Educational Development (IED) is dedicated to the improvement of teaching, teacher training and educational research relevant to the needs of Pakistan and the developing world. Building upon Network experience in school improvement and field-based teacher development, IED aims to develop innovative models of educational change. Its approach to teacher training emphasizes the school-based internship, and its first Professional Development Centre is located on the campus of AKES's Sultan Muhammad Shah School in Karachi. To meet the needs of rural teachers, IED plans to open a Professional Development Centre in Gilgit, in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. IED's programmes have been developed in collaboration with Oxford University and the University of Toronto.


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