A few months ago, we announced that admissions were open for AKU’s PhD in Education programme. So, we invited few of our alumni in Pakistan, Central Asia and East Africa to share stories of their PhD experience at AKU’s Institute for Educational Development (IED), to inspire potential scholars to apply for the programme. We were impressed with the enthusiastic response received, and decided to feature one of these stories as part of our Alumni Spotlight series.
In this conversation, we hear from Dr Haji Karim Khan (MEd '02, PhD '09) who currently serves as the Controller of Examinations at the University of Baltistan, Skardu. He talks us through why he chose IED for his doctoral studies, highlights the best parts of his academic experience and tells us how he has grown since completing his doctoral studies.
Why did you return to IED to pursue your doctoral studies? The lived experience of the conducive learning environment at IED during my master’s studies was one of the key motivating factors for my return to my alma mater for doctoral studies. IED enables you to ‘learn how to learn’. It provides students a space for intellectual development by engaging them in inquiry-based learning opportunities. The academic rigor along with the supportive learning environment become instrumental in the transformation of thoughts, intellectual emancipation, and professional clarity amongst learners. And as a learner myself, I was able to see the core values of human dignity, respect, tolerance, compassion, equity, and simplicity well reflected in the culture of IED.
How do you feel your experience as a doctoral scholar impacted your journey as an adult learner? My time at IED helped me to not only to uncover my potential, but also enabled me to believe in my abilities and to work towards my career aspirations. In fact, the foundation for learning laid at IED, played a pivotal role in helping me develop my professional capital through seeking learning opportunities around the globe.
During my doctoral studies, I was able to successfully secure an HEC grant to present my research paper at an international conference held at the University of London, UK. I also applied for and was awarded the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust Visiting Fellowship at the University of Oxford, UK. Soon after, I was named a Fulbright scholar, and was able to successfully complete a postdoctoral programme at the University of Massachusetts, USA.
Since graduating from AKU-IED (for the second time!), what are some of the key initiatives you have been involved in? I have had the opportunity to work with various well-reputed organisations including the Aga Khan Education Service in Pakistan, Karakoram International University, and the University of Baltistan, Skardu. Besides teaching and research, I also worked in the past as the Founding Director of the Professional Development Centre of Baltistan University, Director of Quality Enhancement Cell, and the Founding Lead of the Baltistan University Volunteers Corp.
I am also a member of key statutory bodies including the Academic Council and the Syndicate of the Baltistan University. I have presented my research work across the globe and published in several national and international journals. Furthermore, I also serve as a reviewer of various international journals.
Are there any thoughts that you’d like to share as you reflect on your time as a student/scholar?My alma mater has taught me to work with my full potential, strength, and honesty to bring about positive change in the lives of others. Alhamdulillah! I have always wanted to serve the mountain communities in the remote region of the country as these communities are in a dire need of educational development. May the Almighty give me the courage and strength to serve with dignity, pride, and respect! Thank you, my alma mater, AKU-IED!