The Nation (Nairobi)
June 27, 2004

Posted to the web June 28, 2004

Aga Khan Launches Academy in Maputo

Aiglemont, Saturday

The spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Friday joined President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in announcing the creation of the Aga Khan Academy in Maputo.

The Aga Khan described the institution as an academic centre of excellence which will be the second of some 20 being established by the Aga Khan Development Network in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.

"To educate is a task that belongs to us all," said President Chissano, calling "the promotion of quality education for all Mozambicans, a prime condition in the struggle against poverty in our country."

It was, he said, "a contribution towards an increasingly fairer and more balanced society."

The Aga Khan noted that the education the academies would offer would be one that "values differences of outlook, ethnicity, religion and culture . . . in the interest of justice and fairness.

He noted that a temperament receptive to pluralism helps creativity, curiosity and inquiry to thrive in sharing the best of human knowledge and talent from an individual or group it originates from.

"The developing world now increasingly recognises that there are areas of national life, particularly economics and education, which require the dedicated leadership of professional specialists who are not burdened by the baggage of dogma," he said.

"The conviction that home-grown intellectual leadership of exceptional calibre is the best driver of a society's destiny underpins the Ismaili Imamat's endeavour to create catalytic centres of educational excellence."

The Aga Khan noted that governments everywhere were now beginning to appreciate the contribution of not-for-profit private providers of social services to address the challenges of rising expectations that compound historically unmet needs.

"International partnerships in education are increasingly seen as vehicles for introducing best practices, tried and tested," he said.

"Such partnerships also expand the pool of the much needed resources to invest in quality, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels, so that education institutions may form the best minds in their own countries.

"A major goal of the academies," the Aga Khan noted, would be "to restore the public standing of the teaching profession so that future generations of educated men and women would come to see in teaching a great, valid and rewarding opportunity in life."

The academies will have built-in provisions for teacher development in association with the Aga Khan University's Institute for Educational Development."

Each academy will incorporate a professional development centre for teacher training and curriculum innovation. It will not only function for its own benefit, but also extend modern teaching and learning methods to government and private schools locally and regionally.

The academies will feature a curriculum based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) and will benefit from the intellectual and programmatic resources of the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.

The first of the academies was opened in Mombasa in December, and others are planned for Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Syria.