On 16 October, Aziz Batada, Head of the Science Department at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa presented an overview of the Academies and led a discussion session with the Institute’s students and faculty entitled ‘Creating Capacity for Local Knowledges’. During the session Batada introduced the work of the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, and discussed a range of issues related to the Academy.
The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, was inaugurated in August 2003, and is the first of the planned network of 18 Academies across Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East. The academic programme, intended to foster an ethical and public-minded approach, is designed to enhance students’ capacity for academic excellence, their analytical and critical thinking skills, sense of civic responsibility, their understanding of global issues, and their creativity.
The programme is characterised by active student participation, rather than passive listening and watching, and is led by an experienced local and international faculty, dedicated to the students’ learning and growth and to their own continuous professional and personal development. International examination results place the school in the top tier for academic performance worldwide.
After introducing the academies and their work, including a slideshow depicting students engaged in a variety of activities, Batada led a lively discussion session. The discussion centred on a range of different questions.
“Why are the academies important? Why are we teaching, and in which contexts? What is important about the academies is that it is the values that come out – and this is reflected in the types of relationships that our students are able to form, both between humans, and their environment,” Batada emphasised.
Batada explained that the schools are being established around the world for a range of different reasons.
“Firstly, these schools are being established because there is a lack of good educational opportunities, especially for the poor in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In addition to this, there is a brain drain occurring, whereby skilled workers from developing countries are either not returning or remaining in their own countries,” Batada concluded.
Batada also discussed the importance of each academy engaging with and involving the local context in which it operates. In this regard, the academies can be seen as creating capacities for local knowledges.
The session, attended by AKU-ISMC’s MA students, acted as an introduction to the work of other parts of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Through the creation of such links, the Institute hopes to expose students to a range of institutions who may serve as host organisations for post-degree internships, while simultaneously exposing these institutions to AKU-ISMC’s students who, in due course, may be seeking employment in such organisations.
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations