Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aga Khan Academy makes all the difference for poor students in Mombasa government schools

Syed Akbar
Mombasa (Kenya): A rusted gate and dusty buildings welcome as
one enters the Government Girls Central School in this bustling
coastal city. The buildings may have been white washed several years
ago and they present the picture of utter neglect. But as the saying
goes appearances are deceptive, this girls’ school located in the
downtown area stands apart when it comes to academic excellence.

The Aga Khan Academy has made all the difference through its school
outreach programme. The government may have neglected the building,
but the Aga Khan Academy has transformed this government school into
an institution of excellence and modern learning. The teachers as well
as the headmistress underwent training at the Aga Khan Academy in
modern methods of teaching and when they returned to the school, their
academic style has undergone a sea change.

Right from the seating arrangement for students to blackboards and
education charts hung on the walls, the school underwent a complete
academic overhaul. The art of teaching students is not only novel, but
also scientifically designed to improve the grasping power. If the
school outreach has changed the concept of education in select
schools, the professional development programme offered to teachers
has changed the way traditional teachers look at education and teaching.

“The Aga Khan Academy has transformed the way people look at education
and learning, in the backward Mombasa city. Our students are excelling
both in academics and in real life,” says a teacher, who underwent
“training of trainers” course for six months offered by the Academy.
Thanks to the Academy, many government schools and private madarasas
in Kenya and other countries in Africa now offer international
standards education.

“Promoting excellence in teaching, both on campus and more broadly, is
a fundamental goal of the Aga Khan Academies. Each Academy
incorporates a Professional Development Centre to strengthen the
profession of teaching in the region by investing substantially in
teachers’ professional development. The Academy’s PDC supports
excellence in teaching by promoting best practices in teaching and
learning,” says Mr Salim AL Bhatia, director of Aga Khan Academies.

The Aga Khan Academy back home in Hyderabad too identifies and
develops teachers of the highest quality, who are committed both to
the all-round development of young people and to their own
professional growth as excellent teachers.

According to Gioko Maina of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, they have also
come out with a Professional Learning for Educators Series to improve
the standard of teaching and learning identified during extensive
market research and interaction with government and departments of
education. The series includes programmes for teachers in various
subject areas as well as specialised programmes focusing on skills and
understandings related to education like improving the teachers’
fluency in English and effective teaching methods.

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