A meeting in Oxford on September 16, 1993 launched a new partnership in teacher education between Oxford University's Department of Educational Studies and the Aga Khan University's new Institute for Educational Development in Karachi, Pakistan. Under the terms of an agreement signed by the two universities, Oxford's Department of Educational Studies will contribute to the design and delivery of the Institute for Educational Development's teacher training programs and research during the Institute's first three years of operation. The agreement is renewable after the initial three year period.
The agreement was signed by Dr. June Clark, Director of Research Services for Oxford University, and Sahabzada Yakub Khan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Aga Khan University (AKU). Also attending the meeting at Oxford were Professor Richard Pring, Director of the Institute for Educational Development and Mr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, President of the Aga Khan University Medical Centre, together with other officials and faculty members from the two universities and the Aga Khan Foundation.
AKU has established this new institute to help enhance the quality of education and the status of the teaching profession in Pakistan and other countries in the developing world. AKU was founded with an international charter in 1983 to provide higher education and pursue research interests relevant to the developing world, while maintaining internationally accepted standards of academic achievement and qualification. Its Faculty of Health Sciences was planned with the support of Harvard, McGill and McMaster Universities. Located in Karachi, it includes both a Medical College and a School of Nursing.
The establishment of the Institute for Educational Development has followed over a decade of experimental programs in teacher training carried out by the Aga Khan Foundation and Aga Khan Education Services in a variety of schools, both public and private, in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Aga Khan Foundation provides technical assistance and funding to innovative programs in education, as well as health and rural development, in specific areas of the developing world. The Aga Khan Education Services manage over three hundred educational institutions in East Africa and South Asia.
As Chairman of the AKU's Board of Trustees, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, stated during the meeting, "the University of Oxford's Department of Educational Studies' leadership in the area of school-based teacher education makes it a particularly valuable partner for the Institute for Educational Development." Under the agreement signed in Oxford, the Department of Educational Studies will participate in the development of the Institute of Educational Development's curricula and teaching methods for the training of teachers at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels. It will second faculty members from both Oxford and schools associated with Oxford's own training programs to the Institute for Educational Development, and be represented on the Institute's Academic Advisory Council, which will also include the Secretary of Pakistan's Ministry of Education. The collaboration will also involve the participation of Institute staff in study trips or courses at the University of Oxford and associated schools.
With staff from the Institute for Educational Development, staff from Oxford University's Department of Educational Studies and the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto are actively involved in planning the training of Master Teachers at the Institute, scheduled to begin in early 1994. A similar partnership agreement will be signed by representatives of the University of Toronto and the Aga Khan University in January 1994.
In the context of the AKU's partnership agreement with Oxford University, it may be interesting to recall some of Mowlana Hazar Imam's recent references to the interaction between institutions of higher learning in the West and the Muslim world. In his speech upon the acceptance of AKU's charter on March 16, 1988, Hazar Imam said, "It is no exaggeration to say that the original Christian Universities of the Latin West, at Paris, Bologna and Oxford, indeed the whole European Renaissance, received a vital influx of new knowledge from Islam: an influx from which the later Western colleges and universities, including those of North America, were to benefit in turn Making wisdom available from one country to another is truly in the finest tradition of Islamic learning."
Acknowledging the experience of other universities which was drawn upon in the creation and development of the AKU, Mowlana Hazar Imam said of the AKU at the first convocation of the Medical College in June 1989, "It has no precise model. Al Azhar, Oxford, Heidelberg, and Harvard are in its bloodlines, but it is strongly influenced by its times and its location."
Source: The Ismaili, Canada (December 1993)
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