Governing bodies for education must recognize the need to establish quality standards for institutions, not only in Tanzania but across the EAC, for it is through these standards that university graduates will be able to move freely across national borders of the EAC in pursuit of opportunities. This was the message delivered by Honourable Lucy Nkya, Deputy Minister, Health and Social Welfare, and the Chief Guest at the seventh Aga Khan University Convocation ceremony held in Dar es Salaam.
It was a day that saw 32 students graduate, with 24 graduands receiving a Master of Education degree and eight Diplomas in General Nursing.
AKU also celebrated a milestone: graduating its ten thousandth alumni since diplomas and degrees were announced in 1983.
Commenting on the issue of increasing access to quality education and healthcare in East Africa, Hon Nkya noted “we must be able to leverage the opportunities across the region and generate creative solutions to increase access of people in rural and urban areas to high quality education and healthcare. Only if we can meet the demand for intellectual and economic fulfilment, will we retain bright young minds... and be able to stem the brain drain from this region.” She also emphasised the importance of limiting the financial burden of students through bursaries and loan programmes.
Aga Khan University’s Advanced Nursing Studies programme has contributed to strengthening the health system in Tanzania through innovative training ensuring that nurses and midwives can improve their qualifications without having to leave their homes and places of work for extended periods of time. Scholarship opportunities have also been availed by more than half of its students with 96 per cent of alumni receiving a promotion on completion of the programme.
Similarly the university has expanded access to quality health care by establishing more than 30 health clinics in the East Africa region, with a notable milestone being the opening of the Heart and Cancer Centre in Nairobi - a world class facility that provides treatment for heart diseases and cancers previously not available in East and Central Africa.
Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) based in Dar es Salaam has helped improve teaching and contextual learning throughout East Africa, impacting over 800 educators across 287 schools. A new campus is to be established in Dar, and will help AKU-IED serve more students and more teachers from across the East Africa region.
Honourable Lucy Nkya concluded by thanking the Aga Khan Development Network for the role they have played in development from the establishment of schools, hospitals and health clinics to initiatives for economic development and cultural preservation in Tanzania.
Mr. Firoz Rasul, President AKU, in his address, emphasised the role of universities in region-building. He said “our vision at the Aga Khan University is to create a regional university in East Africa for East Africa, where talented students from across the region receive an international standard education on any AKU campus in the EAC. Our goal is to develop human talent; to develop knowledge, to instil aptitudes and attitudes that create resilience to withstand adversity and an entrepreneurial spirit to create businesses and jobs; to cultivate the thought-leaders and innovators who can examine the challenges from an East African perspective and imagine unconventional solutions.”
Mr. Rasul concluded by warmly congratulating the graduands on their achievement urging them to choose to stay in Tanzania and help solve socio-economic challenges in the region.
The colourful ceremony, presided over by Ambassador Saidullah Khan Dehlavi, Chairman AKU Board of Trustees and Mr. Firoz Rasul was attended by vice-chancellors, senior government officials, diplomats, national and international academicians, donors and prominent citizens.
Eunice Mwangi, Tel: +254 735 800100