Home Site Guide

Aga Khan Edcuational Services

Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) currently operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher secondary education services to students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya,Uganda, Tanzania, and Tajikistan.

Please also see the Aga Khan Foundation's education activities.


What's New

Foundation Stone Laying of the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, India.

Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, 20 December 2003.

Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, 20 December 2003, including photos,
press release and Speech by the Aga Khan


The Ismaili Imamat has a long tradition of leadership in educational development. The foundations of the present system were laid by Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, III, who established over 200 schools during the first half of the 20th century, the first in 1905 in Zanzibar, followed by schools in Dar es Salaam in 1906, and in Mundra, in India, in 1907. (A number of schools were subsequently nationalised following independence.) Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah also supported the development of institutions of higher education in India, and North and East Africa.

Today, the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) is one of four agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) supporting activities in the field of education. The other three are the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the Aga Khan University (AKU), and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).

AKES currently operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher secondary education services to more than 54,000 students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Tajikistan. AKES is also developing new schools in Kyrgyzstan and Madagascar and studying the feasibility of services and facilities in Mozambique.

Programmes to improve educational quality have been built into the AKES system since the early-1980s. Field-based teacher training was launched in Pakistan's Northern Areas in 1983. School improvement experiments began at the same time in Sindh province in Pakistan, where AKES introduced child-centred teaching methods, and in Tanzania, where new techniques for secondary school teaching in English, mathematics, and science were implemented in Dar es Salaam. AKES, Kenya has been the Development Network pioneer in the use of computers in the classroom, while many Network initiatives in pre-school education began in AKES, India.

Supported by the Aga Khan Foundation, some of these experiments have been carried out in government schools as well as AKES institutions, thereby contributing to the improvement of education in the countries in which AKES operates. With both the national service companies and the Aga Khan Foundation acting as relays, this body of experience in teacher development and school improvement is having an impact throughout the Network. The Institute for Educational Development of the Aga Khan University was created to provide a permanent institutional base that can sustain these and other initiatives in education.

Educational approach

AKES is committed to achieving excellence by continuous improvement of its programmes, services and processes. Offering a superior education to students is perhaps the most important factor in creating a successful future for generations that will have to cope with a rapidly changing environment. Considering the system as a whole, the leading characteristics of the work of the Aga Khan Education Services are:

  • the continuing pursuit of excellence in educational practice and management in diverse and challenging settings;

  • child-centred teaching methods;

  • a special emphasis on female education; and

  • school-based teacher training.

Currently, the major initiatives throughout the system include:

  • the introduction of computers and distance learning to supplement teaching and improve learning methods;

  • the improvement of physical infrastructure, particularly of community-based schools;

  • advanced teacher training through the Institute for Educational Development at the Aga Khan University;

  • an East African education initiative to facilitate coordination of programmes, identification of best practices and quality educational initiatives, advancement of policy dialogue on privatisation of schools, improvement in teacher training and retention, and acceleration of computer-assisted educational methods;

  • development of English language and economics programmes at selected universities in Central Asia, through the Aga Khan Education Fund; and

  • collaboration with a leading private school in the USA - Phillips Academy, Andover - to improve AKES programmes in science, mathematics, economics, English language and technology.


The Social Welfare Department (SWD), located within the Aga Khan's Secretariat in France, is responsible for the development, management and coordination of quality education for peoples of all faiths and origins in specific areas of the developing and developed world. The services are planned, organised, and financed primarily through national service companies and boards, which operate facilities and programmes in close collaboration with other AKDN institutions, government agencies, and selected external partner agencies. The national service companies are officially registered as not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations in each country of operation. Their international sponsor is the Aga Khan Education Services S.A., which is incorporated as a not-for-profit company in Geneva, Switzerland.

SWD coordinates the activities of the national service companies primarily through five-year plans, ten-year projections, the annual budget submissions, and the provision of technical assistance to country programmes and institutions. The services, facilities, and programmes of the companies are funded through local fees charged for services, community support, international donors, and contributions from His Highness. The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) assists the national service companies to seek funding and technical assistance from international and local donor agencies for appropriate development of service delivery initiatives.

Pakistan -- AKES recognises the need for teacher development by holding workships for teachers under the School Improvement Programme.
(Photo by Jean-Luc Ray / AKF)

The sponsoring company in Geneva appoints the Chairman and some or all of the directors of the boards of the service companies. Regional, community and institutional committees are established to facilitate planning, operations and funding activities of the national boards. All board members serve as volunteers on an unremunerated basis.

The strength of the AKES system is founded on the volunteer governance and community support of the AKES network. The national service companies plan, implement and support appropriate educational services. Each board appoints a Chief Executive Officer, who is responsible for managing all aspects of the programmes. AKES focuses upon employing cost-effective and efficient management practices, investing in staff and teacher training, and striving for quality outputs. Every company has active internal and external annual audits. The faculty, parents, and children all play a vital role in the development and operation of AKES programmes. This synergy is supported by AKES's educational approach of enhancing academic instruction with a wide spectrum of extra-curricular activities. Collaborating with several educational partners, the Aga Khan Education Services' social development programmes contribute to positive educational change in the wider national community.

Return to Top