Award of Distinction
Dr Thomas Christie
Your Highness, Members of the Board of Trustees, Graduates, Faculty and Staff, Ladies and Gentlemen,
year the University Awards Committee considers nominations for the
Award of Distinction. This award is presented (and here I quote form
the Terms of Reference of the award) “...to recognize publicly and to
honour outstanding persons who have contributed constructively and
consistently to the development of the University.”
This year, the University has the honour of presenting the Award of Distinction to Dr Thomas Christie.
Thomas Christie is the founding director of the Aga Khan University
Examination Board. It will come as no surprise, then, that Dr Christie’s
life’s work has been devoted to the promotion of educational change
through the creation of public examination systems.
joining us at AKU, Dr Christie was Dean of the Faculty of Education and
head of the Department of Education at the University of Manchester.
There he directed numerous externally funded research and development
projects and built up a team of 12 full time researchers in the Centre
for Formative Assessment Studies.
During the 1980s, Dr Christie
was the sole technical consultant in the design of national primary and
secondary school examinations on behalf of the British Government and
assisted with the creation of the Caribbean Examinations Council that
became a major source of curriculum and examinations expertise for 23
By the late 1990s, Dr Christie was assisting
the Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam with the reform of
its primary school assessment system. He also devised secondary
school-based classroom assessment in Jamaica, primary/ secondary
transition in Botswana. His work reforming economics education at the
National University of Mongolia was recognized when Dr Christie was
awarded the degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by that university.
Since joining AKU and establishing the Examination Board 10
years ago, Dr Christie has worked tirelessly to establish the first
non-governmental school examination board in Pakistan, offering General
Certificate of Secondary Education examinations at an affordable cost.
Under his leadership, the Examination Board also effectively supported
the school improvement efforts of the Aga Khan University’s Institute of
Educational Development. Dr Christie designed and implemented the
first e-marking facility in Asia for the processing of achievement data,
establishing a transparent, merit-based marking process. In addition to
designing and administering examinations in its 183 affiliated schools-
where it delivers personalised feedback to teachers – the AKU
Examination Board now evaluates the performance of half a million school
students each year for the Punjab Education Foundation.
especially innovative element of Dr Christie’s work at the Examination
Board has been the development in recent years of the Middle School
Programme. This programme exposes students to progress tests and
collaborative tasks and – of course – a learning environment that
promotes engaged, active learning and nurtures creative and critical
thinking, problem solving and moves the student beyond rote learning
while they are still at a relatively early stage of their school
programme. The impact of this programme is likely to be profound and
Dr Christie took on the leadership of the
assessment strand of the USAID-funded Edlinks project. This project
developed formative assessment in some 300 secondary schools in Sindh
and sought to reduce the emphasis on rote learning among the member
Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education of the national
coordinating body, the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen. Dr Christie’s
efforts on this initiative have borne fruit. Following the completion of
the project, all Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education in
Pakistan agreed to adopt the National Curriculum of 2006, as the basis
of their assessment certification rather than relay on a provincial
Dr Christie is a much sought-after expert in the area
of classroom-based assessment and in addition to numerous academic
papers he has conducted workshops on a wide range of assessment-related
topics in the Caribbean, Middle East, Asia, China and Africa. Tom
Christie’s legacy will be the impact of his work on the quality of
education – here at AKU, in Sindh province, across Pakistan and in the
many areas of the world in which he has left his mark.
Your Highness, I ask that you present Dr Thomas Christie with the Aga Khan University Award of Distinction.