Story by JEFF OTIENO
Publication Date: 8/15/2007
A multi-million shilling residential campus was inaugurated at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa yesterday.
Social progress can be greatest when aristocracies of class give way to aristocracies of talent or meritocracies – Aga Khan.
The Aga Khan is greeted by pupils from the Aga Khan Foundation’s madrassa programme at a function in Mombasa yesterday to celebrate 25 years since the inception of the programme. Photo/WILLIAM OERI
Construction of the campus launched by the Aga Khan, makes the academy the model of a series of top-level institutions to be built in more than 14 countries in Africa and Asia.
The spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims said the academies programme will be rolled out in other countries to create a network of institutions offering high quality education.
The Aga Khan said students will enter the academies programme solely on merit irrespective of their financial resources or family background.
“Our central hope for the programme is that when students leave the academies, they will move to high quality universities and then to positions of social leadership,” said the Aga Khan.
Earlier, the spiritual leader attended Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Madrasa Pre-School Programme which has helped transform education in Coast Province, at the Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Hall.
The Aga Khan said early childhood education was important in unlocking the potential of pupils at an early age.
He noted the sharing of knowledge can be traced to roots of Islam. The spiritual leader urged the public to give more attention to schools which prepared young children for future life.
“Evidence accumulates steadily showing that an investment made in the earliest, pre-school years can bring enormous dividends as a child proceeds from one level of education to another,” he added.
Speaking at the Academy grounds, Education minister George Saitoti commended the Aga Khan for his efforts to boost provision of quality education.
Prof Saitoti said the school will be a valuable institution not only for Kenya, but also the East Africa region.
“There is credible evidence that educational quality has a strong causal impact on individual earnings and economic growth. Teacher quality strongly influences student outcomes,” the minister added.
He also noted that the Government will support the Aga Khan in his education investments saying a sessional paper on supporting private educational institutions had already been passed by Parliament. The Aga Khan said private and public educational institutions should not be seen as rivals in building a better society but as important collaborators.
He said the interest of society will be best served if its outstanding youth were given quality education adding that it was a specialised private school which was best positioned to fulfil the goal.
“Social progress can be greatest when aristocracies of class give way to aristocracies of talent or meritocracies,” the Aga Khan noted.
He said the goal of the academies, will be to provide quality education to exceptional students irrespective of colour, ethnic background or religion. The ceremonies are part of golden jubilee celebrations for the Aga Khan as Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims.