Address by Mr Firoz Rasul
President, Aga Khan University
Bismillah -ir -Rahman -ir -Rahim
Chief Guest, Your Excellency the Honorable Kalonzo Musyoka, Vice-President of Kenya
Honorable Minister for Medical Services, Professor Anyang Nyong'o
Chairman Saidullah Khan Dehlavi
Members of the Board of Trustees
Faculty, staff, proud parents and most important of all - the graduands,
Hamjambo, Karibuni and Good Morning.
Welcome to the 2010 AKU Graduation Ceremony in Kenya.
To begin, let me congratulate all the graduates and your families - this is indeed a proud moment not just for you but also for us.
Today we will honour 82 graduates in Kenya:
- 24 will receive the Kenya Registered Community Health Nursin Diploma,
- 46 are receiving their Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and
- 12 will be conferred with their Master of Medicine.
For all you graduands, this is a milestone we are proud to share with you today.
I want to take a moment to express our sincere thanks to all the families for their support to our graduates, for without their support, you could not have achieved all that you have and reached this day.
And of course, we must not forget to appreciate the efforts of the faculty, without whose passion, commitment and effort we would not be celebrating this milestone today.
And for gracing today's important occasion, I would like to express our profound gratitude to His Excellency the Vice President. Your presence today is a source of inspiration, ecouragement and support to all of us.
The University was established 25 years ago by His Highness the Aga Khan with a vision for an institution "on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems".
Today, AKU makes programmes of international quality accessible to meritorious students from all socio-economic groups. These programmes develop leadership capacity, engage communities to help them solve their own problems and add value through applying international best practices.
The Aga Khan University's presence in East Africa is based on more than 100 years of commitment by the Aga Khan Development Network to enhance the wellbeing of communities in the region through quality education and healthcare, as well as rural and urban development initiatives.
In fact, this engagement started with basic literacy and numeracy classes that were established in 1895 in Bagamoyo, Tanzania by His Highness' grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III.
Today, the Aga Khan University is an international university with a presence in eight countries.
And in this region, AKU is working to become East Africa's first regional university with campuses in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and with a mandate to serve the entire region.
So what do these expansion plans represent?
In Kenya, we are building on the reputation of high quality health care provided by the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi over the past 50 years to develop the Faculty of Health Sciences, comprised of a Medical College and a School of Nursing and Midwifery, to train much needed health care professionals at an international standard. In Uganda, we have the Advanced Nursing Studies programme that works to enhance the capabilities of working nurses to improve their knowledge and leadership skills. In Tanzania, we are establishing AKU's principal campus in East Africa in Arusha, and this campus will house the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as graduate schools in several professional areas.
Continuing with Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam, we have established the Institute for Educational Development, East Africa which trains key professionals who impact the school system, such as teacher educators, school principals, curriculum developers, district education officers and others.
These are all regional programmes so that regardless of the country in which the programme is actually located, we have students enrolled from countries across East Africa, including Rwanda; and we hope in time, from countries in neighbouring regions as well.
The total investment planned for establishing the Aga Khan University's new campuses and programmes in East Africa will exceed US$ 700 million, bringing over 6,000 new jobs to these countries. However, the conditions have to be conducive for such an investment and we look forward to working with the national governments to ensure that this is the case.
Naturally, this expansion of our University will directly impact the services we provide to the communities we serve, and are part of the overall development of the East African region. For example, the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi has an aggressive expansion agenda. The first major step in realising this vision is US$ 50 million initiative - the Heart and Cancer Centre - which we hope to launch at the end of this year, and which will provide critical medical treatment currently not available in East Africa. It will also provide the base to train specialists in cardiac diseases and cancer.
Through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Arusha, we aim to develop a whole new generation of leadership who are steeped in the issues of the region and equipped with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to solve these problems.
They will be armed with a strong sense of the pluralism of this region.
They will value the diversity of faiths and peoples that live here.
They will be grounded in an ethical framework that will enable them to make the right decisions for the benefit of their societies.
And they will help coalesce the different countries into a cohesive region with a common destiny.
Today, through our graduates in the health sciences, we are enhancing health care human resource capacity in East Africa. We are proud to note that our graduates from the Post Graduate Medical Education programme are selected to continue sub-specialty training at various prestigious medical centres throughout the world.
Our nursing graduates take up positions of responsibility in health care institutions to improve the quality of care.
And our teachers go back to the schools and raise the quality of education given to our young.
We are also attracting the best talent through our quality partnerships, which support research and faculty exchange.
In fact, we recently hosted teams from Harvard University and the University of California in San Francisco, who are supporting AKU's commitment in East Africa.
Graduands, as you can see, AKU is committed to ensuring that the education you received is of a high quality and that you are provided with opportunities for professional development to engage you in addressing the real issues of East Africa. Your successful graduation today reflects the mastery of your profession at a global standard.
As a result, your AKU degree is highly regarded. So, I ask you to think about the value of that qualification and the institution that stands behind it. Remember, you graduate from a university that is committed to positively impacting society by upholding strong ethics and principles. You have already been part of this impact and now as alumni, it is indeed your responsibility to carry this forward. We look to you to be our ambassadors - both in how you perform, serve and contribute as well as how you remain connected to AKU.
Let me conclude by wishing you great success in your future endeavours. Wherever you are, be generous with your knowledge, with your time and with your money so that others may benefit from all that you have gained. And stay connected to AKU - participate in our continued growth and in the evolution of your university as we expand in this region.
I will end by quoting His Highness the Aga Khan, our Founder and Chancellor, from his remarks made at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa in December, 2003.
". it is my hope that it will be members of this new generation who, driven by their own wide knowledge and inspiration, will change their societies. These young men and women, I am sure, will become leaders in the governments and the institutions of civil society in their own countries, in international organizations and in all those institutions, academic, economic and artistic that create positive change in our world."
I look forward to learning how well you graduates have lived up to this hope we have in you.
Asanteni sana and thank you