Graduands, congratulations to each and every one of you! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share this important occasion with you.
Today is a turning point in your lives. In the years to come you will look back fondly on your time at the Aga Khan University. You will feel much pride in the hard work that made it possible, and in your affiliation with this outstanding University.
AKU has been tireless in its efforts to strengthen the performance of the overall education and health systems not only in Tanzania but in the entire East African region. The University has been an effective and valued partner of the Government of Tanzania, working with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the President’s Office, Regional Administration, Local Government, the Tanzania Commission for Universities, and other health and education agencies.
In addition to those achievements mentioned by President Rasul, AKU has contributed to the development of knowledge and the dissemination of research, including through its Annual Research Institute Conference on Education Leadership in the 21st Century, held in Dar es Salaam last year.
It is my pleasure to thank His Highness the Aga Khan for his commitment to improving quality of life in Tanzania, and the very significant long-term investments that he has made here.
Graduands, I know that the idea of service to others has been an essential part of your education. And when a commitment to service unites with excellence, the impact is extraordinary.
By contrast, a desire to serve, if it is not joined to excellence, accomplishes relatively little. Similarly, a passion for excellence that is not accompanied by a regard for those in need raises the question – excellence for whom? Only for those who can afford it? Yet every child, regardless of who their parents are or where they were born, deserves a good education and access to high-quality health care.
I know you share my belief in this proposition. And that is one reason I have great faith in you. Nevertheless, I do have a request to make of you.
I make it because as nurses and educators you will fill critically important roles in our society. All of you are among the most highly educated and skilled members of your professions.
I am sure that if you consider how you practiced your profession prior to arriving at AKU, and how you practice it now, you will notice a remarkable difference. You will probably feel that you have been transformed by all that you have learned and discovered.
With the knowledge and skills you have acquired, you will help to shape the life chances of every child that enters your school or your clinic. Each argument you commit to paper or screen has the potential to echo in the minds of those who read it, and to influence their actions for good or ill. It is a great responsibility that has been entrusted to you.
Hence you are crucial to the Tanzania’s future. For while we have made progress in education and health, much work remains to be done. To reach our goals, we need our best and brightest to step up, and to step outside the confines of their day-to-day work and connect with others.
We need you to act as leaders. We need you to spread the ethic of service, and the ethic of excellence to others. When the majority of the population sets its sights higher and refuses to accept good-enough – then efforts to promote social and economic development are greatly strengthened.
So that is my request to you: to seize every chance to lead change. To fulfil your promise. To leave a lasting mark, by utilizing all that you have learned at AKU. To make all of us proud – your families, your professors, your classmates and all those who have supported you in the journey that has brought you to this moment.
Congratulations once again, and thank you.