Aga Khan Academies

The Aga Khan Academies are a global network of residential schools in Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. Dedicated to providing an international level of excellence in education to bright young girls and boys, the Academies aspire to develop exceptional intellectual leaders with the integrity, understanding and generosity of spirit to serve the societies in which they live. Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Academies are part of the Aga Khan Development Network.

"Aga Khan Academies in operation:"
*Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa
*Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi
*Aga Khan Junior Academy, Nairobi

"Academies under development:"
*Aga Khan Academy, Amadaro Citation | last = Contreras | first = M | title = Aga Khan lanca escola de excelencia | newspaper = Expreso | year = 2007 | date = July]
*Aga Khan Academy, Antananarivo
*Aga Khan Academy, Bamako
*Aga Khan Academy, Damascus
*Aga Khan Academy, Dar es Salaam []
*Aga Khan Academy, Dhaka []
*Aga Khan Academy, Dushanbe
*Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad (India) []
*Aga Khan Academy, Kabul
*Aga Khan Academy, Kampala
*Aga Khan Academy, Karachi
*Aga Khan Academy, Khorog
*Aga Khan Academy, Kinshasa
*Aga Khan Academy, Maputo []
*Aga Khan Academy, Mumbai
*Aga Khan Academy, Osh
*Aga Khan Academy, Salamieh

History and conceptualization

The Aga Khan Academies are a global network of residential schools for highly talented students spanning from Africa and the Middle East, to South and Central Asia.cite web | title = Excellence in Education | publisher = The Aga Khan Academies | date =2003 | url = | format = pdf | accessdate = 2007-06-27] Their mandate is “expanding access to education of an international standard of excellence” for pre-primary to secondary school students.cite paper | author = His Highness the Aga Khan | title = Speech at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya | date = 2003-12-20 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-27] The Academies form part of a vast educational network organized by the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) founded by His Highness the Aga Khan. The longstanding commitment to education and learning by the Aga Khan and his grandfather have found expression in many forms — one of which is the Aga Khan Academies, of which nineteen are currently either functional or under development.

The first Academy opened its doors in Mombasa, Kenya, in August 2003.Citation | last = Yaseen | first = Naim | title = Kibaki Inaugurates Aga Khan Academy | newspaper = The Nation | year = 2003 | date = December 2003] As of July 2007, two Academies were in operation, one in Mombasa and the other in Nairobi, Kenya.cite web | title = The Aga Khan Academy: Mombasa | publisher = The Aga Khan Academies | date =2003 | url = | format = pdf | accessdate = 2007-06-28] In June 2004, March 2005, and September 2006 there were foundation-stone laying ceremonies in Maputo, Mozambique;Citation | title = Aga Khan Launches Academy in Maputo | newspaper = All Africa | year = 2004 | date = June 2004] Dar es Salaam, Tanzania;Citation | title = Aga Khan Academy, Dar, is Third in a Network of 19 | newspaper = All Africa | year = 2005 | date = March 2005] and Hyderabad, IndiaCitation | last = Chunduri | first = Mridula | title = Ismailis: A picture quite familiar | newspaper = The Times of India | year = 2006 | date = September] respectively to commemorate the building of new academies. Soon, the network will extend to South and Central Asia and eventually to Salamiyya and Damascus, in Syria. More recently, planning has begun for a new academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh Citation | last = Rahman | first = Mizan | title = Aga Khan Academy to be set up in Dhaka | newspaper = Gulf Times | year = 2007 | date = May 2007 | url =] and the municipality of Amadora in Portugal while many others are being planned — from Bamako in Mali, West Africa to Kabul in Afghanistan. It is envisioned that by 2016, the first ten academies will be in operation.Citation | title = Aga Khan lays stress on public education | newspaper = The Hindu | year = 2006 | date = September 2006]

Educational approach and philosophy

The educational approach and philosophy behind the Aga Khan Academies are intimately connected. One of the primary purposes behind the establishment of the Academies in the developing world is to identify, develop, and retain expert and effective home-grown talent beginning at an early age.cite paper | author = His Highness the Aga Khan | title = Speech at the Stone-Laying Ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, India | date = 2006-09-22 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-28] At present, the neglect in cultivating future leaders at an early age is what separates some regions of the world from others. But with the advent of the network of Academies and the calibre of individuals they will produce, the future growth of poorer nations can be improved and safeguarded.

The Aga Khan Academies seek to prepare young people not only for their first job, but to widen their world view so that they may look beyond merely improving their lot. Students will be taught to see the value in helping others, and by extension their nations and the institutions that they will shape.cite web | title = The Aga Khan Academy: Hyderabad | publisher = The Aga Khan Academies | date = 2006 | url = | format = pdf | accessdate = 2007-06-28] The philosophy of the Academies embraces a number of things — the most important of which is based on imparting a means by which sound judgments can be made based on an ethical framework. This is in relation to the Aga Khan's remarks on education which he describes as an “intensely moral enterprise which depends upon clear ethical rules.”

The Academies are steeped with “an explicit concern for the value of pluralism, [and] a strong emphasis on the ethical dimensions of life.” Such values permeate the pedagogy, curriculum as well as the architecture of the academies, which together form a redefined understanding of learning and education. It is envisioned that the graduates that emerge from the Academies will be confident and aware of their surroundings, hold valuable insights regarding the world that surrounds them, and aim to be future leaders who contribute to building peaceful societies.


The Aga Khan Academies have adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB) Citation | author-link = International Baccalaureate | title = Who we are: What is the International Baccalaureate? | year = 2005-2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28] programme curriculum because of its multifaceted educational approach and its recognition by leading universities around the world. The curriculum is divided into three parts: the Primary Years Programme (ages 3-11), the Middle Years Programme (ages 11-16), and the Diploma Programme (ages 16-19).Citation | author-link = International Baccalaureate | title = What we offer: Core requirements | year = 2005-2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28] The Academies offer a distinct emphasis on the humanities, with languages in particular; every student must acquire proficiency in a foreign language other than English, which is the language of instruction. Citation | author-link = AKES: Aga Khan Schools | author2-link = Aga Khan Academies | title = Curriculum | year = 2004 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28] Students are given an opportunity to explore the arts: music, visual arts and dance, philosophy, foreign cultures and comparative religion. This is coupled with a focus on the general sciences, social sciences, economics, history, and literature as well as a progressive mastery of computer and information technologies.

Students are also given an opportunity to engage in a number of extracurricular activities such as school clubs and sports. They are required to contribute to the community as part of their extracurricular activities and as the IB Programme stipulates. Citation | last = | first = | author-link = International Baccalaureate | title = What we offer: Core requirements | year = 2005-2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28] An example of a community-oriented initiative in which the students partook was ‘World Animal Week’ sponsored by the World Society for the Protection of Animals in March, 2006 at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa.Citation | title = Aga Khan Academy Mombasa join action for Animal Week | newspaper = Coast Week | year = 2006 | date = March 2006]

With the expansion of the Academy network, it will be possible for teachers and students to go on exchanges with their counterparts in foreign countries. This is due in part to the standardised use of the IB curriculum; all schools teach the same course subject material. Therefore, students will be able to continue their studies abroad without compromising the content of their education.


Each academy will enroll approximately 700 to 1,200 young men and women. Admission to the academies is based on merit and is needs-blind: selection is not based on the students' ability to pay but on the personal strengths of the individual who has applied.Citation | author-link = AKES: Aga Khan Schools | author2-link = Aga Khan Academies | title = Admissions | year = 2004 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28] Furthermore, students will be actively recruited as “matriculation for these schools must go beyond passive selection and include an active outreach effort.”


All members of the faculty must have a Bachelor’s degree and five years of teaching experience. Recruited faculty members are also given the option to improve their skills through the Professional Development Centres (PDC) which will be located at each Academy. The PDCs will offer courses in pedagogy that will not only be offered to teachers of the Academy but also to the faculty of other private and public schools. Teachers will be expected to participate in international exchanges with other Academies so that they can learn and draw from the wisdom of their counterparts abroad. The exchanges will also give teachers an opportunity to internalise and "foster cross-cultural understanding," as this is an important aspect of the Aga Khan Academies.

Architecture and the built environment

Significant time and thought goes into building an Aga Khan Academy from an architectural point of view. The Academies’ goal of becoming great institutions of learning must relate to the calibre of the built environment, which helps to stimulate inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. “Each campus is to be designed by renowned architects” and is fully equipped with all the necessary facilities such as theatres, libraries, laboratories, and cafeterias.

* The Academies feature extensive, on-campus sporting facilities, including a swimming pool, a field for outdoor games and a gymnasium for indoor sports. Select campuses may also include tennis courts, cricket pitches, and ice-skating rinks where appropriate.

* The residential facilities make up a significant component of each academy. They are designed to accommodate students and teachers — both visiting and resident.

* Professional Development Centres are located on the campus.

The end result has been described as an “architectural marvel”Citation | last = Cayo | first = Don | title = Teaching in Africa | newspaper = Vancouver Sun | year = 2006 | date = April 2006] that creates a conducive environment for learning, and one with which students can identify with “the whole of [their] being, mind, body and spirit”.

The size of each campus will vary from one academy to another. For example, the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, inspired by Swahili architecture, currently rests on a 7.3 hectare parcel of land whereas the Academy currently underway in Hyderabad will sit atop a 40 hectare plot. The Hyderabad Academy campus is being designed by India’s HCP Design and Project and Management Private Limited under the directorship of Bimal Patel.cite web | coauthors = HCP Design and Project and Management Private Limited | title = Company Profile | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-28]


In addition to belonging to the Aga Khan Development Network and working with the Aga Khan Education Services, the Academies are part of the International Academic Partnership (IAP).cite web | title = IAP Director's Report | publisher = Phillip's Academy | date = 2004 | url = | format = pdf | accessdate = 2007-06-28] The IAP is an international joint venture that was conceived in 1990 and came into being in 1993. It includes such world-class institutions as Phillips Academy in Andover, USA, Schule Schloss in Salem, Germany and the Institute for Educational Development at the Aga Khan University. The partnership has brought together over 400 schools from South Asia, East Africa and the United States, and over 500 teachers.

The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Central Asia, the Aga Khan University, the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and Oxford University are also providing important resources to various aspects of the Academies and their development. Other important partnerships are national governments such as that of India which donated 40 hectares of land in the southern Andhra Pradesh state for the Hyderabad Academy.Citation | title = Aga Khan lays foundation stone for school in India | newspaper = Agence France Presse | year = 2006 | date = September 2006]


External links

*cite web | url= | title=The Aga Khan Academies (AKDN) | accessdate=2006-11-15
*cite web | url= | title=The Aga Khan Academies | accessdate=2006-11-14
*cite web | url= | title=The Aga Khan Schools | accessdate=2006-11-14
*cite web | url= | title=The Aga Khan Development Network | accessdate=2006-11-14
*cite web | url= | title=International Academic Partnership — Andover | accessdate=2007-06-30

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