Speech by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya​​

K​enya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University​

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is no event that I look forward to more than one involving the education sector. 

Why? This is because education helps us prepare for the days and years ahead, which is a key pillar of my vision of a Better Kenya.  

The possibilities brought forth by education and knowledge drive dreams; fuel innovation; spur gender equality; and create limitless possibilities for individual and national progress.

Today is the day that will feature prominently in the history of our nation: the day we empowered a generation and expanded the capacity for delivering our destiny.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With us on this momentous occasion, though virtually, is, His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismaili Muslim Community.  He has joined us to celebrate the culmination of his far-sighted vision and contribution to the education sector for our beloved Republic.

The phrase “Aga Khan” has become synonymous with elevating educational standards and delivering holistic training.  From pre-school to tertiary learning, its footprints are felt in this nation and region as a whole; with the present university that we are awarding a Charter today, being the latest testament of the journey of academic excellence that is, the Aga Khan brand.

The Aga Khan University’s journey for the award of a Charter started in earnest almost three decades ago.  By being focused and committed, and working hard, we can see today the enviable results of the decades’ long process.

This University is integrated with the Aga Khan Hospital, which itself offers training and health services to our people, in a manner that finely balances the theoretical, practical and empirical aspects of education.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The long-standing partnership between the Kenya Government, the Ismaili community and the Aga Khan Development Network, spans over 100 years.  This fruitful relationship has brought about tremendous benefits to the welfare of many Kenyans across the country. 

Indeed, the Ismaili community’s contribution to the education sector traces back to 1905, when the first Aga Khan School opened in Nairobi.  After the end of the First World War in 1918, His Highness the Aga Khan’s grandfather began establishing an educational network in East Africa, the foundation of the wide footprint we enjoy in the present day.

The solemnity of this ceremony is affirmed by the fact that the University and the Hospital whose benefits have been enjoyed by millions of Kenyans, feature graduate training that takes in the best students, regardless of whether they can afford to pay fees or not.

Many of the students admitted to the Aga Khan University and Hospital are supported financially by the institution, thanks to the courtesy of its commitment to humanity through service.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The idea of the Aga Khan University (AKU) came about in the mid-1970s, with the dream of creating a university in the developing world, which would have the highest of international standards.

That dream university, which is today's reality, was meant to offer the best education while improving the quality of life of all those within its reach.  Today, that noble idea has come to fruition.  Today, we have the first world-class university, focused on some of our key growth areas in our society, including health care, education, media and communication.

There is an evolving momentum for quality assurance in institutions of higher learning. It is paramount that the Aga Khan University, and, indeed, all universities in our country, align themselves to the promotion of quality education.  You must strive to remain compliant to both the programmatic and institutional standards set by our professional regulatory bodies such as the Commission for University Education.

On the part of our regulatory institutions in the education sector, each must execute its mandate fully in order to guarantee the quality of university education in our country is not compromised. Regulatory standards are not mere exercises in box ticking.  They are the lifeblood of a vital process that ensures that learning delivers tangible benefits for both the learner as well as the nation.

To the Aga Khan University, I urge you to build on a century of excellence and distinction by striding forward with ideas centered on knowledge, inquiry, discussion, authenticity, truth, application, critique, care, development and action.

Today, my call to you is to commit to become a leader in health care, media, communication and hospitality; stay abreast with the changes in the world and provide solutions to the many challenges brought by an ever-changing world. 

In the last year, the challenges we have faced arising from the COVID-19 pandemic call for strategies and solutions that are multifaceted and multidisciplinary.  I trust that this University will answer that call.

Permit me to use this occasion to also appeal to your researchers and practitioners to do all that is necessary to find solutions for our healthcare challenges, especially with regard to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As I conclude, let me say that given the long-established tradition of offering high-quality education in this country upon which this institution is based upon, I urge the Aga Khan University to invest in research and training that will support our new focus on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

The Competence Based Curriculum is a revolutionary step we took as a country to provide our learners with 21st century practical skills relevant to the needs of the present world.

I trust that the Aga Khan University will deliver on the same and produce excellent graduates who can tackle a multitude of challenges, improve their current situations and positively affect our society to become responsible global citizens.  

Congratulations to Aga Khan University.

God bless Kenya, His Highness the Aga Khan, and us all.