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Speech at the Opening Ceremony of Special School, Nairobi, Kenya - 1961-05-05

Friday, 1961, May 5
Ismaili Magazine
Aga Khan IV (H.H. Prince Karim)

5:30 PM, FRIDAY, MAY 5, 1961

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Spiritual Children,

For a number of hours earlier today I has wondering whether I would arrive in Kenya in time to be present here to open this new School. My worries were all the more sharpened by the fact that I attach special. importance to this afternoon's ceremony.

We are here today not to open a normal school. We are opening an institution outside the programme of the Ministries of Education in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda I must change slightly my speech here, because my Administrator has performed the miracle of getting money from the Ministry of Education.

I was not aware of this situation so I will have to make up for the last. May I say, however, that I am most grateful to the Government for contributing both the land and some money to help us build this institution. Two years ago I discussed the idea of building such a school with the representative of the Government who told me then that this should be considered as a luxury. Perhaps indeed this School is a luxury. In hard times it would not be justifiable to spend money on a school for disabled children when there is a lack of money already for building institutions used to educate fully healthy children. But in my view a luxury becomes a necessity when it is true that it renders a service and is useful to the Ministry in its development plan.

In British East Africa today the population may be some 22 millions. If ten percent of this figure represents school age children there there would be two million two hundred thousand such children and if one percent of this figure represents disabled children then there would be twenty two thousand disabled children who would need specialised education. These figures are of course certainly inaccurate. The percentage of boys and girls eligible for school in East Africa is well over ten percent of the total population. But I have taken these figures as a proof to this institution which is already far too small for its purpose. In East Africa and in Kenya certainly as far as I know, there is no other Asian School devoted to helping and educating disabled children.

I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, that there is ample proof, therefore, of the great necessity for such an institution. In my mind also our efforts here today are symbolic of a field in which private endeavour, private capital and private energy by a very small section of the population of the land can render a valuable service to Kenya

Lastly this School stands for an ideal to which I attach the greatest value. While the politicians are working their ways to the major problems, while they are trying to plan a well considered part for the future development of Kenya, the special services of the citizens must continue to grow and the greater the efforts in this field prior to independence, the larger will be the sum of money available to the independent Government to meet new financial commitments which will be due to the very fact of independence.

May I take this occasion once again to thank all those who contributed to the construction and the completion of this School.

On behalf of my community and myself I would like to say that we are most grateful indeed for all their help.


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