Contents of the ‘Aga Khan Academies (AKA)’ category in chronological order.

Times of India Interview, Ranjan Roy, ‘Civil society has to be driven by competence as well as ethics: Aga Khan’ (Hyderabad, India)

Do individuals increasingly lack an ethical compass?

Which is why most freedoms go past a certain set of limits. Freedom has been taken to a point where unethical behaviour has become acceptable. That is what I am apprehensive about and we see it many parts of the world. That kind of freedom enables the individual to behave in ways that are unhelpful to society, to its institutions. You can see it the banking world, you see it in the media world, and you can see it in social relations.

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Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, Inaugural Ceremony (Hyderabad, India)

The network concept that I have mentioned is something that makes our academy endeavour a unique and distinctive one. And if there is one central thought I would like to have you take away from this day, it is the interconnected, international dimension of our envisioned academy experience. Our planning is that there eventually will be 18 Academies, situated in 14 countries….

It has become commonplace to talk of an inter-connected planet, with global communities of trade and finance, science and medicine, governance and diplomacy, education and culture. It is our intention that our Academy graduates will eventually become accomplished leaders in all of these fields. But why should a profound immersion into global experience come only when one reaches the higher levels of education or actually begins a career? Why should world awareness and active international participation be thought of as something that is supplemental, rather than essential, to education throughout one’s early life?

We believe that our Academies network will foster a lively sense of world awareness among all its students. Our student body already includes people from a variety of economic and social backgrounds, as our financial aid programme enables us to admit excellent students without regard to their economic resources. Nor is admission geared in any way to the national, religious or ethnic background of any applicant. Our faculties will be similarly diverse. And, of course, the goal of global engagement will be powerfully re-enforced by the integrated flow of people and ideas among the various Academies.

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Restored Polana Serena Hotel Opening Ceremony (Maputo, Mozambique)

There is one other larger context I would like to mention today — the story of the Serena Hotel Group as a whole. Stretching back now over nearly four decades the Serena Group has contributed significantly to the economic progress of the places where it operates. And we intend that this same thing will happen in this country.

To begin with, attracting visitors to this country — business leaders and leisure travellers alike, one-time visitors and repeat customers — will itself produce foreign exchange at the time of such visits as well as later foreign investment, often as a result of those stays. And in both cases, there will be important multiplier effects for other enterprises, as well as for government revenues.

As the Serena Group has learned in so many other places, world-class travel facilities can be crucial components of what we call an “enabling environment” — a setting in which additional development initiatives can take root and thrive.

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Aga Khan Academy, Dhaka, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Let me reflect for a moment on the matter of ethics and the importance of ethical commitments not only in government but throughout society. Competent civil society is a major contributor to development particularly where democracies are less well established, or where governmental efforts are inadequate. The absence of corruption or fraud in government is not enough. Fraud in medicine, fraud in education, fraud in financial services, fraud in property rights, fraud in the exercise of law enforcement or in the courts, are all risks which can have a dramatic impact on social progress. This is especially true in rural environments, where fraud is often neither reported nor corrected, but simply accepted as an inevitable condition of life….

In the final analysis, the Academies project will face an age-old challenge as it moves ahead — the challenge of balancing the universal and the particular, the global and the local as influences in human life. It is a challenge which becomes more important with every passing year. It has been said that the most important fact about modern communication technology is that it “universalises the particular and particularises the universal” which simply suggests that local and global experiences are increasingly intermixed. Such an inter-mixture can give us the worst of both worlds: hostile, defensive localism on one side and a superficial, homogenised mega-culture on the other. Or it can give us the best of both worlds: proud local identities living side by side with creative international cooperation.

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The Peterson Lecture, Annual Meeting of the International Baccalaureate (Atlanta, USA)

[T]he great problem of humankind in a global age will be to balance and reconcile the two impulses … the quest for distinctive identity and the search for global coherence. What this challenge will ultimately require of us, is a deep sense of personal and intellectual humility, an understanding that diversity itself is a gift of the Divine, and that embracing diversity is a way to learn and to grow — not to dilute our identities but to enrich our self-knowledge….

As we move into that future, we would like to collaborate with the International Baccalaureate movement in a challenging, but inspiring new educational adventure. Together, we can help reshape the very definition of a well educated global citizen. And we can begin that process by bridging the learning gap which lies at the heart of what some have called a Clash of Civilisations, but which I have always felt was rather a Clash of Ignorances….

There will be a strong temptation for us to regard these new frontiers as places to which we can bring some special gift of accumulated knowledge and well seasoned wisdom. But I would caution against such an emphasis. The most important reason for us to embrace these new opportunities lies not so much in what we can bring to them as in what we can learn from them.

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State Banquet (Maputo, Mozambique)

Over the past fourteen years of post-conflict history you have gone from negative growth rates in the range of eight percent a year, to positive growth rates in the same range! That is a remarkable accomplishment. [Y]our recent progress has been built on sound principles and, for that reason, Mozambique has become a valuable model for the whole of the developing world. Your growth record is one of the best in Africa, built neither on diamonds nor on oil as Prime Minister Diogo has put it, but on the development of human potential and the consolidation of the democratic processes. Mozambique has learned to set careful priorities — to establish clear markers for progress, and then, carefully, to measure its progress against those indicators.

One of the prime qualities which recommends Mozambique as a model is your reliance on professional expertise rather than ideological caveats. In that spirit, you have built a broad consensus among many stakeholders, public and private, from civil society, and from the international community. In pursuing your great goals, you have been inclusive, rather than exclusive. In an era when frustration often breeds cynicism concerning the possibility of progress, Mozambique can provide inspiration and encouragement to other post conflict societies.

The key ingredient in all of these efforts, within Mozambique and in its regional neighbourhood, is a spirit of genuine partnership — an understanding that we can do things together that we can never do separately.

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Aga Khan Academy, Kampala, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Kampala, Uganda)

Let me extend, at the very start, my heartfelt thanks to the person who made this beautiful site available for the building of a new Aga Khan Academy. He is Amirali Karmali [and we] are most deeply grateful to Amirali and his family for their extraordinary generosity. I know I speak for everyone here in describing this gift as a truly inspiring one….

Together [the 18 Aga Khan Academies] will constitute an inter-related community of learning exchanging students and teachers, sharing ideas and insights. And they will also share a variety of environmental experiences. Some, like the first Academy at Mombasa, will be in ocean-side settings, other will be placed in high mountain environments, still others will be built in desert terrains or forested areas or, as in Kampala, at the side of a beautiful lake. As our students and teachers experience these remarkable surroundings, I hope they will develop what I would call a sense of “environmental pluralism” to accompany the appreciation for cultural pluralism which we will also hope will be one of the programme’s hallmarks….

The final point I would emphasise today, above all else, is our uncompromising commitment to quality, in every aspect of the Academy experience. Our hallmark will be quality students, quality instructors, quality facilities — an unwavering devotion to world-class standards. Let the day be long past when some could excuse mediocrity by saying that it was “good enough for Africa”.

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Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Residential Campus, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Mombasa, Kenya)

[A new] World Bank study confirms a central tenet of our Academies planning, our confidence in the value of a residential campus. We believe that students draw valuable life lessons not only from learning together but also from living together — especially if the mix of students is broadly diversified. The laying of this cornerstone symbolises this commitment to a residential experience. In addition, we are also committed to building an international network of similar schools so that those who are enrolled on any one campus will also be able to be study at other Academy sites….

As world affairs have been steadily transformed by the process of globalisation, the ability to command and control has become less important than the ability to anticipate, connect and respond. And educational institutions which can instill and enhance those capacities have become essential to effective development.

Educating effective future leaders is a high responsibility…. We must rise above the antiquated approaches of earlier days and instead infuse our students with what I would call three “A’s” of modern learning — the spirit of anticipation, the spirit of adaptation and the spirit of adventure.

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Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Hyderabad, India)

What we begin here may not have its full impact in any of our lifetimes. But the beginnings we undertake today may well be among the most important things we will ever do….

I would like to speak initially about the logic behind the Aga Khan Academies programme — to look at its philosophical underpinnings…. At the very heart of our conclusions — is one, central conviction: the key to future progress in the developing world will be its ability to identify, to develop, and to retain expert and effective home-grown leadership….

As the pace of history has accelerated, agility and adaptability have become more important qualities than mere size or strength, and the race of life has gone increasingly to the nimble and the knowledgeable. As the economic arena has been globalising, openness and flexibility have become prerequisites for progress, and success has gone more and more to those who can connect and respond.

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Address to the Evora University Symposium, ‘Cosmopolitan Society, Human Safety and Rights in Plural and Peaceful Societies’ (Evora, Portugal + [Canada])

A deepening sense of spiritual commitment, and the ethical framework that goes with it, will be a central requirement if we are to find our way through the minefields and the quick sands of modern life. A strengthening of religious institutions should be a vital part of this process. To be sure, freedom of religion is a critical value in a pluralistic society. But if freedom of religion deteriorates into freedom from religion, then societies will find themselves lost in a bleak and unpromising landscape with no compass, no roadmap and no sense of ultimate direction.

What I am calling for, in sum, is an ethical sensibility which can be shared across denominational lines and which can foster a universal moral outlook.

In conclusion, then, I would ask you think with me about these three requirements: a new emphasis on civil institutions, a more rigorous concern for educational excellence, and a renewed commitment to ethical standards. For these are all ways in which we can encourage a climate of positive pluralism in our world and thus help meet the current crisis of democracy.

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Aga Khan Academy, Dar es Salaam, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

The students at this institution will be distinguished not only for their academic capacity, but for their character and their commitment to citizenship….

The students who come here will be exceptional because they will have capabilities and character that make them stand out from their peers. And we will ensure through scholarships that exceptional students will be admitted even if they do not have the financial means….

The faculty of the Academies will do more than teach our students. They will also reach out to schools and teachers in the surrounding community to share their knowledge through formal Professional Development Programmes and informal guidance and mentoring. In this way, the imprint of the Academies will reach far beyond their physical facilities….

One hundred years from now, I believe that our successors will look back at the founding of the Aga Khan Academies as an important milestone in the development of Tanzania and East Africa.

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Aga Khan Academy, Maputo, Foundation Stone Ceremony (Matola, Mozambique)

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….

Adopting internationally proven but flexible curriculum frameworks, the residential schools will evolve over time into an integrated system through which advanced students and faculty will be required to study at other campuses, and to be exposed to different social, ethnic and cultural environments. Students will specialise in the fields of knowledge most required for the development of their own and their neighbouring societies, within the context of a broad and meaningful education….

The Academy in Maputo, like its counterparts elsewhere, will seek to demonstrate the instrumental role that education can and must play in building strong civil societies across the developing world. It is institutions such as the one whose foundations we are laying today that will be a driving force for progress and betterment around the world.

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CNN Inside Africa/Design 360 Interview, Sylvia Smith (USA) ·· incomplete

Modernity is part of the concern of the award and our objective is to permeate good architecture, not to freeze it any time. The symbols of the past may be re-utilised in modern architecture, they may be dropped, new symbols may come forward — we need continuity, particularly in conservation, but, no, we’re not going to stymie creativity of the Islamic world. [Emphasis original.]

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Aga Khan Academy, Kilindini, Opening Ceremony (Mombasa, Kenya)

In the long history of the Ismaili Imamat’s engagement with education, covering well over a 1000 years and numerous countries past and present, few days can have been as important as this one….

As the young men and women from this Aga Khan Academy, and over time from its sister schools, grow and assume leadership in their societies, it is my hope that it will be members of this new generation who, driven by their own wide knowledge and inspiration, will change their societies; that they will gradually replace many of the external forces that appear, and sometimes seek, to control our destinies. These young men and women, I am sure, will become leaders in the governments and the institutions of civil society in their own countries, in international organisations and in all those institutions, academic, economic and artistic that create positive change in our world. It is my strongest hope that you who carry on the great mission of teaching them will take pride in the confident, resilient minds that you have nurtured.

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Institute of Ismaili Studies 25th Anniversary Graduation Ceremony (London, United Kingdom)

[It] is not a simple matter for any human society with a concern and appreciation of its history to relate its heritage to its contemporary conditions. Traditions evolve in a context, and the context always changes, thus demanding a new understanding of essential principles. For us Muslims, this is one of the pressing challenges we face. In what voice or voices can the Islamic heritage speak to us afresh — a voice true to the historical experience of the Muslim world yet, at the same time, relevant in the technically advanced but morally turbulent and uncertain world of today? …

One of the challenges that has concerned me over many years, and which I have discussed with leading Muslim thinkers, is how education for Muslims can reclaim the inherent strengths that, at the height of their civilisations, equipped Muslim societies to excel in diverse areas of human endeavour…. Today, any reasonably well-informed observer would be struck by how deeply this brotherhood of Muslims is divided. On the opposite sides of the fissures are the ultra-rich and the ultra-poor; the Shia and the Sunni; the theocracies and the secular states, the search for normatisation versus the appreciation of pluralism; those who search for and are keen to adopt modern, participatory, forms of government versus those who wish to re-impose supposedly ancient forms of governance.

What should have been brotherhood has become rivalry, generosity has been replaced by greed and ambition, the right to think is held to be the enemy of real faith, and anything we might hope to do to expand the frontiers of human knowledge through research is doomed to failure for in most of the Muslim world, there are neither the structures nor the resources to develop meaningful intellectual leadership.

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His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision for the Aga Khan Academies: ‘What does it mean to be an educated person?’ (Aiglemont)

Education must also make the case for a pluralistic tradition in which other views, ethnicities, religions and perspectives are valued not only because that is just and good, but also because pluralism is the climate best suited for creativity, curiosity and inquiry to thrive. It must also stimulate students to consider a variety of perspectives on some of the fundamental questions posed by the human condition: “What is truth?” “What is reality?” and “What are my duties to my fellow man, to my country and to God?” At the same time, education must reinforce the foundations of identity in such a way as to reinvigorate and strengthen them so that they can withstand the shock of change.

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