Chairman of the Board, Ambassador Saidullah Khan Dehlavi,
Members of the Board of Trustees
President, Mr Firoz Rasul
Graduands and students
Parents and Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Graduands, we have assembled here to celebrate your academic achievements. During this graduation ceremony of Aga Khan University, 132 graduands in the fields of nursing and education will receive degrees and diplomas to mark the end of a rigorous and exciting academic experience at AKU. You have worked hard and made us proud. I congratulate you all and wish you the best in your careers. I also congratulate faculty and other members of staff who have guided you in your academic journey to this day. Your families have been there for you, and they too deserve our recognition, appreciation, and of course, congratulations.
I would like to extend my deep appreciation to the Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, His Highness the Aga Khan, for his immense contribution to the development of education in our country and the East African Region. Indeed, the commitment of His Highness to the region through the Aga Khan Development Network reaches back over 100 years to Bagamoyo when his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, began small, informal schools to help impoverished families educate their children. This humble beginning grew into the well-respected system of Aga Khan Schools that now dot the landscape.
Through the Aga Khan Development Network, which His Highness the Aga Khan established 50 years ago, Tanzania has benefitted with schools, hospitals, health clinics as well as initiatives for economic development and cultural preservation. Two generations of investment and support to East Africa demonstrates commitment to the enhancement of critical institutions in education and healthcare that will be the foundation for the overall development of the region. This has had a significant impact on the well-being and quality of life of East Africans.
In the same timeframe, Tanzania’s youth literacy rate has risen to 78% and, as primary and secondary school education programmers have taken hold, the overall demand and readiness of Tanzanian children for education has increased. With a youth population of 27 million in Tanzania today, higher education is an immediate and pressing concern.
Meeting this growing demand will be a challenge. We must look for creative solutions across the region. Solutions that will see us leverage the best that the countries in this region have to offer to benefit the youth of East Africa. It is only if we can meet the demand for education, economic and intellectual fulfillment that we will retain young bright minds such as those that sit before me today and be able to stem the brain drain from this nation. Our governing bodies for national education must also be steadfast in upholding the quality standards of these institutions. Shiny new buildings are not always the hallmark of a quality education; solid curriculum, leading teaching and learning practices and fair assessment and evaluation systems define a quality institution and help develop quality human resources, which in turn help to build a nation.
I am pleased to see that the commitment of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan University, in particular, is not slowing in the near future. The plans by the Aga Khan University to establish new campuses and programmes here in Tanzania will further serve the region in innovative ways and yield a positive impact for the communities of East Africa.
Graduands, you are here today at the culmination of a significant process of personal and intellectual development. During your time with AKU, I imagine you have learnt all the technical skills necessary to become competent nurses and teachers. From my experience with AKU, I imagine you have also learnt about leadership.
History has shown us that leadership manifests itself in many forms; from the great orator who can move a crowd to action to the community worker who works quietly and steadily to ease the suffering of those around them. There are great leaders who have emerged during times of change and propelled nations to redefine themselves, like Mzee Nyrere. There are still many more, who have made significant differences in the fabric of society, without any recognition at all.
At this point in Tanzania’s development, what type of leadership do we need now?
We need strong, ethical leadership; which means leaders who have the ability to step up, see a new horizon with greater opportunities, and then engage those around them to achieve that vision; leaders who are willing to constructively question authority and the status quo and to brave the unknown.
The ability to be a strong leader is driven by intrinsic qualities, attitudes, and behaviors. It comes from the ability to think critically; to inspire those around you with knowledge, not just charisma; to be willing to be held accountable; and to make no compromise on ethics.
Today as we celebrate your graduation, ask yourself – are you that leader?
Now that you will be moving into the next phase of your career, equipped with new knowledge and skills, you will be asked to take on new challenges and lead new initiatives. Do not shy away from these opportunities. These are tremendous opportunities to develop your leadership skills. These are your opportunities to make a difference and become that strong, ethical leader.
As you go forward, seek out new opportunities for intellectual growth and leadership. Seize them and use them to benefit yourself, your families and your country.
Thank You very much for your kind attention.