KARACHI: The Aga Khan Education Service held a regional conference to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan at the Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan School. The conference illustrated the impact of education in Pakistan over the past 113 years since the opening of the first school in Gwadar Baluchistan in 1905. Since then 160 schools have been established, impacting more than 42,000 students countrywide.
The conference focused on a study conducted by students mainly in Sindh to trace the history of Aga Khan Schools and highlight the valuable contribution of the institutions in partnership with the government towards the attainment of national goals for education. The findings show the impact of the schools in building a conducive learning environment and increasing access to quality education. Through active community participation AKES provides access to marginalized communities. Student enrollment in the Aga Khan Schools (south region) increased from 80 students in 1950 to currently over 9,600. The investment in the development and training of teachers over many decades has exponentially enhanced the number of qualified teachers to over 500 in the region with 60% having a postgraduate qualification. The impact of which is evident from the high student passing rate of 97% at the higher secondary level, out of which 60% are high achievers and four out of 10 graduates join the medical profession.
Governor Sindh Imran Ismail presided the event as the chief guest. Around 250 people attended the conference, including government officials and representatives of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), eminent scholars and academicians, alumni of Aga Khan Institutions, prominent professionals and members of civil society.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Ismail highlighted the longstanding partnership of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Pakistan and the government. “Agencies of AKDN have rendered services in education, health, social development and other fields in Pakistan. Their values of respect, diversity, pluralism, honesty, integrity, fairness, and, above all, the spirit of serving those who are in need are exemplary,” he said.
The Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan is among the largest private networks of educational institutions in Pakistan. It represents diverse schools ranging from rural community schools with fewer than 100 students to large urban schools with over 3,000 children.
“For the last 60 years, through the Aga Khan Development Network, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan has been working tirelessly to improve the quality of the life of people in some of the most impoverished and marginalized countries,” stated Hafiz Sherali, President Ismaili Council for Pakistan. “Above all, AKDN has been working to provide ‘confidence’, ‘trust’ and ‘hope’ in the communities.”
Students from AKES schools have performed well in board exams and many of them, particularly from rural areas of the country, have pursued further education including enrollment in PhD programmes. “The foundations of education and empowerment that were laid more than a century ago, have borne fruits today in the shape of hundreds of thousands of people all over Pakistan who have studied from Aga Khan Schools and gone on to live successful, fulfilling lives of service to their communities and country,” summarized Imtiaz Momin, CEO Aga Khan Education Service.