AKESI - Striving for excellence

01 December 2019

His Highness, the Aga Khan IV, has said that a great school, “will educate its students, not merely to be personally successful, but also to use their gifts to build their communities and enhance the common good to levels beyond our dreams”.

AKESI - Striving for excellence AKESI - Striving for excellence
With this as their purpose, Aga Khan Education Service, India (AKESI) has been working on providing quality education that taps into the students’ potential to be future leaders. A strong emphasis on inclusivity creates a permanent positive impact on the students, teachers, parents, alumni and the communities at large.

Since inception, over a century ago, AKESI schools are known to provide quality education and are equipping young learners with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to thrive in a complex and dynamic world. AKESI`s continuous investments in the field of teacher training and competency, infrastructure and co-curricular education can be seen in its efforts like Cambridge English Certification for teachers, new and upgraded libraries, laboratories and sports facilities and Robotics, Abacus, Vedic Maths and IIT Foundation Classes for Co-Curricular Education.
AKESI schools have been recognized for various initiatives and innovations, and have received a number of accolades over the years for their efforts in improving the quality of education, offered by its schools and preschools, and also through the various outreach initiatives.

Recently, three AKESI schools achieved top rankings and awards in their respective districts, through the EducationalWorld (EW) India School Rankings 2019-20 (the world’s most detailed schools rankings survey):
Aga Khan School, Chitravad #1 in Gir-Somnath
Aga Khan School, Mundra #2 in Kutch and 
Platinum Jubilee High School, Warangal #1 in Warangal

The 14 parameters for ranking included: Teacher Competence, Teacher Welfare and Development, Academic Reputation, Co-curricular Education, Sports Education, Individual attention to Students, Life Skills and Conflict Management, Infrastructure, Value for Money, Leadership / Management Quality, Parental Involvement, Internationalism Outlook, Special Needs Education and Safety & Hygiene. 

To ensure that the ranking is accurate, 122 field personnel interviewed 12,213 fees-paying Parents, School Principals, Teachers and Senior School Students in 28 major cities and education hubs across India. 

Asia's biggest education event, India Didactics Association (IDA), also awarded Aga Khan School, Mundra for ‘Exemplary Initiative Towards Faculty Development Programs’. The school ranked #1 from more than 1600 entries received from across India and was appreciated for its efforts toward the professional development of its teachers.

“What students know is no longer the most important measure of an education. The true test is the ability of students and graduates to engage with what they do not know, and to work out a solution.” – His Highness, the Aga Khan IV
Platinum Jubilee High School, Warangal (PJHSW) and Aga Khan School, Sidhpur (AKSS) have been selected by the Government of India to set up State of the Art Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) on their premises. These makerspaces for education create an environment of scientific temperament, innovation and creativity amongst students. Atal Tinkering Lab is is a place to play and learn science beyond school textbooks, through application-based self-learning, to foster solutions to community problems. 

At the recently launched ATL, at the Warangal school, the students showcased their passion while discussing their projects with AKESI CEO, Farhad Merchant, who said, "This is a great platform for children to develop their twenty-first-century skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. The projects, completed by the students, showcased these qualities and reassured me of the ability of these students to confidently take India into the next century. Their enthusiasm and learning through the journey, which took them through failures before they could see success, gave them a taste of real-life". The students presented their projects that ranged from Smart Cities to automated watering of dry lands for farming, using a variety of equipment and programming them to cater to their needs. The students showed immense confidence while explaining the process of development of these socially relevant projects.

The recently launched Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL), at the Platinum Jubilee High School Warangal (#AgaKhanSchools), ensured that other schools in the region could benefit from this, through the annually hosted #AKESI ISARD (#Innovation, #Science, #Analytics, #Research and #Development) event. The ISARD ATL Fest, held recently, drew participation from 27 schools, from 8 districts, and showcased 113 scientific models/projects. It saw many young innovators exchange ideas at this platform – The solutions presented on these platforms, help to broaden the thinking of the hundreds of participants/attendees. The improved quality of the technology-enabled, innovative solutions can positively impact society at large. These conversations among the student fraternity will also help build bridges and better collaboration among these young, future leaders. 
The number of achievements of AKESI schools and teachers has snowballed over the years; As AKESI CEO, Farhad Merchant says, “These achievements make us proud and keep us motivated to continue to do our best to meet the vision that His Highness has for providing a holistic education to the children”. 

“An education must equip students with the tools that enable them to adapt and thrive, in a world characterised by change. In such an environment, technical proficiency is not enough. Education that prepares children for life must go beyond fundamental skills to stimulate creativity, intellectual curiosity and honest inquiry.” – His Highness, the Aga Khan IV

While there are many more, a few highlights of this year’s achievements are:

Diamond Jubilee High School, Mumbai (DJHSM) - Among the 12 students selected from across India, in the Seeds of Peace Conference at Boston-USA, two students represented were selected from DJHSM (2 had been selected from DJHSM last year as well). Seeds of Peace is dedicated to inspiring and cultivating new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict. It equips exceptional youth and educators with the relationships, understanding and skills they need to accelerate social, economic and political changes essential for peace. Seeds of Peace focuses on personal transformation and then wider societal change. These are coupled with consistent high academic performance, for many years, especially since it achieved its ICSE affiliation 7 years back.

Diamond Jubilee High School, Hyderabad (DJHSH) - The Head of Department for Telugu of DJHSH was awarded the Best Teacher Award by The Rotary Club of Hyderabad, for her 26 years of continuous teaching efforts at DJHSH and contribution to best practices and creative activities in classroom for engaged learning, for students to enhance their academic performance. This is reflected in the consistently high academic performance of the students over the years.

Platinum Jubilee High School, Warangal (PJHSW) - Principal of PJHSW was conferred with the Avantika’s Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award 2019 for his commitment & dedication in the field of education.

Environmental sustainability initiatives: 3225 saplings/trees were planted/distributed. Daily 2000 litres of water is being saved, through drip irrigation from RO water discharge, and sewer treatment to recycle waste water. Plastic usage has been reduced at schools by 79% through planning and reuse. Paper usage has been reduced significantly by replacing most parent circulars through an online app for communication with parents.
The awards, recognitions and achievements are a testament to AKESI`s commitment and dedication to provide quality 21st-century education while teaching children to make ethical choices, to embrace the strength of pluralism and to serve in their communities while aspiring to be global citizens.

Photo captions:
Regional Head - Gujarat, Principals and Vice Principals of the Aga Khan Schools, receiving the awards at EducationWorld (EW) Award Ceremony in New Delhi, on 29th September 2019
L to R: Srilatha Laajvanthi, Jagdish Peche, Giridhar Reddy, Dr Iqbal Sama, Dilip Thakore (EW Editor), Summiya Yasmeen (EW Managing Editor), Dolly Vaja and Hari Krishnan

Mr Farhad Merchant, CEO - AKESI interacting with the students at Platinum Jubilee High School, Warangal during the launch of Atal Tinkering Lab

Dr Iqbal Sama, Regional Head - Gujarat and Mr Giridhar Reddy, Principal - Aga Khan School, Mundra receiving the IDA award at Bengaluru