Hindi Day at the Academy
Posted on 15 September 2011
The first Hindi Day at the Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad was held on 14 September. Students at the Academy study in both English and Hindi, and the day was a fun-filled way to focus on the national language and culture.
When the students arrived at school, the day immediately had a festive and colourful feel, as they were allowed to wear national dress instead of their uniforms.
The school day began with a fast-moving, fun assembly that was conducted entirely in Hindi. Members of the staff made short speeches, and the students performed songs, poems and a play – all rounded out by a very enthusiastic rendering of the national anthem!
Staff and students alike enjoyed the day, which was a great success.
Admissions are now open for Junior & Senior Academy (including Residential)
Posted on 07 November 2011
The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, is now accepting applications for admission to all three International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes from August 2012. It is the second in an international network of Academies being established throughout South and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Built on a 100-acre campus near Rajiv Gandhi Airport, the Academy offers state-of-the art facilities on a secure landscaped site.
New head for Aga Khan Academy
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The Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad has named John Puddefoot, a former deputy head of the Eton College, one of Britain's renowned schools, as its new head.
A statement from the Academy said that Mr. Puddefoot holds Masters in Mathematics from Oxford University and has over 25 years of administrative and teaching experience at Eton College, a five-century old school.
The Aga Khan Academy built in 100 acres near Hardware Park in Maheshwaram mandal is a purpose-built residential campus.
IB Teachers Meet at the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad
16 February 2013
Over a hundred teachers from across India and from further afield gathered at the Academy in Hyderabad as part of an ongoing commitment by the Academy and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) to the professional development of teachers in the region.
The workshop was hosted in the newly opened (September 2012) Senior Academy.The Academy is an IB World School for the Diploma programme and one of only a few schools in India offering all three stages of the programme: the Primary Years Programme (for 3-12 year olds); the Middle Years Programme (11-16 year olds); and the IB Diploma for 16-19 year olds.
Mr. Puddefoot welcomed the participants to the workshop at the opening ceremony in the Academy Building, stressing the mission of the Academy as "open to all", regardless of their nationality, economic background or ethnicity.
This is the first IB workshop to be hosted by the Academy. The Aga Khan Academy hosts such professional development workshops as part of its mission to improve education generally, not only for its own teachers but also for other teachers in the region.
The current workshops -- provided by the International Baccalaureate Organisation -- are designed to improve teaching and offer professional development opportunities to teachers in the IB system. IB teachers are expected to complete the training on a periodic basis as part of a process of life-long learning.
Students from the Academy were present to help participants find their way around the vast campus and to help when needed. They had also set up a small CAS store, selling handmade chocolates and candles to help fund their other CAS activities.
The thirteen workshops come only weeks after an agreement between the IB and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) that equates the completion of the IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP) with Grade 10 of an Indian Board assessment.
Students who have completed the MYP are now entitled to apply for admission for higher studies in any school or Junior College in India.
The first time I set foot at an Aga Khan Academy, some six years ago, I was viscerally struck by the incredible symbolism of hope and respect that the Academies represent.
The campus seemed to say: this country, your youth, these students merit an institution of the highest quality and integrity. They have the intelligence and the talent and the potential to transform countries and lives through their creativity, their values, their service, and their leadership.
And so I am truly honored to be here today and to have this opportunity to celebrate with you, to recognize your achievements, and to help launch the next phase of your lives. I am confident that you will draw on all you have learned here, intellectually and emotionally, as you find yourselves, you find your ways in the world, and in so doing shape all our futures.
Dr. Fisher asked me to speak today about the future. That seems appropriate: commencement is, after all, a ritual that helps us mark a transition, a moment of passage. This Academy, which has framed so much of your lives in recent years becomes today part of your past. And so we gather to celebrate that passage and to send you into your futures with love, pride, and confidence.
This is an institution founded to form a new generation of Indian leaders. If that is your charge, what challenges will compete for your attention?
The litany is as familiar as it is daunting:
•Climate change is real and growing. The period from 1983 to 2012 was the warmest in 1400 years. The concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and similar gases is higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. By mid-century, food security will be affected by shifts in crop production and marine life. Extreme weather and related natural disasters will become even more common. Displaced populations will place new stress on inland and urban areas. And as often happens, the least developed countries will suffer the most dislocation and disruption.1 Mid- century is just thirty-five years from now, when you will be in your 50’s.
•Water scarcity: Of the planet’s 7 billion people, 1.2 billion already live in regions with absolute water scarcity. By 2025 – just ten years from now – two-thirds of the global population will live in water-stressed areas.2 (And this is before the full effects of climate change even begin to be felt, at mid-century).
•The shifting balance of power from West to East, from North to South, that offers hope to many millions in this part of the globe, is also destabilizing old alliances and the balance of powers. It has produced new tensions on the frontiers of Europe, in the South China Sea, closer to home on the borders of Arunchal Pradesh, and fuels a cyclone of sectarian animosity and violence in the Middle East as autocrats fall and rise again and proxy wars produce dangerous headwinds blowing back their way to other parts of the world.
With a list like that, there are more than enough reasons for despair, if we seek them. But despair is not the right emotion for a commencement and it is not a helpful attitude when facing the greatest challenges of our times.
Despair about the future is certainly not why His Highness the Aga Khan founded these Academies and remains committed to expanding them.
And it is absolutely not why each of you was chosen to come here for this experience.
We are all here because we believe – indeed, if we are to shape the future at all, we must believe – that progress is possible and that each of us can play a role. We must acknowledge and analyse these challenges if we are to address them, but we must not despair or give in to debilitating cynicism. Change is hard, change is sometimes slow, change can be frustrating, but positive change is possible.
As an historian by training, I usually turn to the past when I want to think about the future, to look at the direction of history and what it tells about our realm of possibilities. When we do that, what trends can we also see?
Solid evidence of significant global progress in human health, infant death, life expectancy, human freedom and poverty reduction.
•Overall human health has improved around the world in the past sixty years. And there is no country in the world where infant mortality has not improved since 1950.3 In just the past 20 years, global childhood mortality has decreased by 41 percent.
•Average global life expectancy has increased almost fifty percent in the past six decades. According to the WHO, life expectancy has improved for every income bracket, in every country, between 1990 and 2011 – your lifetimes.
•In 1990, an area the size of Belgium was razed out of the Brazilian rainforest every year. Today, thanks to tough legislation and even tougher implementation, deforestation has fallen by 70%. The Economist points out that this has prevented some 3.2 billion tons
of carbon from being released into the atmosphere, the equivalent of one year of emissions for the entire European Union.
•In the past thirty years, poverty has declined by what the World Bank calls, “an unprecedented rate.” In 1981, 40 percent of the world’s population lived in abject poverty, on less than $1.25 per day. Today, that has dropped to 14 percent.
That poverty statistic is rather astonishing. 700 million less people are now living in poverty every year. Much of that is due to rising incomes in China and in India. But it is a change that has taken place in just three decades.
As someone who works for a development network, please do not misunderstand me. 1.2 billion people worldwide still live in extreme poverty and several billion more remain impoverished. In India alone, despite all its progress, half of its children are malnourished, their growth stunted and their health in danger. Those numbers are unacceptable. They are unacceptable because we know that progress is possible: the statistics I have cited demonstrate that these problems are not intractable and that they can be addressed.
The irony of history today is that some aspects of this progress – rising incomes in Asia and Africa; growing competence everywhere and therefore more global competition; higher expectations of fairness, justice, and transparency - all contribute to a wider sense of instability in global relations, a sense of faster environmental degradation, and a sense of greater inequalities between rich and poor, especially within countries. We are living in a period of fundamental change and transition, making all our lives feel a bit more uncertain. What does the future hold, indeed?
And so we have come full circle, back to this ritual of commencement: the passing of one phase to another. Where do each of you fit in that very big picture?
I think the first thing to underscore is that while many of the changes or challenges I have pointed to are global in scale and sometimes in nature, their effects are always local. That is also where the most innovation happens and sometimes where the most effective change can happen. If there is one thing that I have learned in the Aga Khan Development Network, it is the collective difference that inspired individuals can make, one-by-one, community-by-community, step-by-step.
•Here in India, I think of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and its partners in Southern Gujarat, which worked with thousands of village organisations over a decade to help rehabilitate a river basin, replenish aquifers, provide safe drinking water, and double the agricultural output of farmers. The result: better health, increased incomes and food security, and greater social cohesion among communities of different faiths, castes, and tribes.
•I think of the Ahzar Park in Cairo where the Aga Khan Trust for Culture created a green, public oasis on the site of a centuries-old dump near some of Old Cairo’s oldest mosques and monuments, as well as one of its poorest neighborhoods. As His Highness noted in a recent speech there, the project has been a “trampoline” for wider development in the neighborhood, bringing 17,000 visitors, providing jobs for 1000 people, helping increase incomes in the area by 27 percent – one-third faster than elsewhere in Old Cairo.
•I think of Pamir Energy in southern Tajikistan, founded by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in 2002. It was the first public-private partnership for energy in Central Asia, showing that communities in formerly communist countries will pay market rates for services that used to be free if the quality is high, the provision is dependable, and the prices are fair. Today, it is exporting clean hydropower to villages in Afghanistan across the Panj River, places that had never before been electrified.
•And finally I think of Northern Pakistan, where over the last 40 years, multiple AKDN agencies have worked in partnership with local communities to clear and create arable land and improve crop yields; provide clean drinking water; promote education, especially for girls; and provide basic health services, especially to prevent infant- and maternal-deaths. The community-led approach developed there has been so successful that it has become a paradigm for rural development elsewhere. Its influence can be seen in national programmes of the Government of Pakistan, in Afghanistan’s reconstruction, in various Indian states, and at the World Bank, among others.
The lesson from AKDN? Civil society is vital. All of these were achieved by people coming together, harnessing private energy for public purpose. Such change is only possible one person, one organisation at a time. And as I am sure you have learned at the Academy, it starts with you: with your creativity, your passion, your values, your leadership.
And so twenty years from now, I count on being able to add the numerous achievements of the graduates of the Aga Khan Academies to that list.
It may sound like we expect a lot. At one level, we do. But we are also confident that you are up to the task. And we know that the best way for you to fulfill your potential for service and leadership is to spend some time over the next few years at university understanding what you love to do – what are those things you lose yourself in, that absorb you totally, that push you fully? Because it is by harnessing that passion and linking it to social ends that you will be able to work the hardest, test your limits, be the most creative, and make the greatest contribution.
And so this is a day on which we come together to celebrate each of you graduates – your accomplishments, your talents, your dreams, and your potential. All of us wish you the best, give you our support, and perhaps most importantly, we believe in you.
Now, as I come to the end of my remarks, I want to make a predication: twenty years from now, you will not remember a word I have said today. Not one word. But what I hope you will remember when you think of this graduation, is that feeling of being loved here, of being taken seriously here, of being respected here for your ideas and your character and your aspirations – and that these feelings will have helped sustain you in times of doubt, at moments of adversity, when you needed inspiration.
And I hope very much that twenty years from now, you will give this same gift, your gift of confidence and optimism, to another generation of graduates of the Aga Khan Academy, or those elsewhere in India, or wherever you choose make your homes and make a difference.
Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad starts enrolment process of Bangladeshi students
The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad has started enrolment process of Bangladeshi students from grade six to 11.
Head of the Academy Dr. Geoffrey Fisher last week led a team to introduce the school to the prospective parents.
The representatives from the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad (AKAH) in India on Friday said a team would come on May 14 to take the admission assessment test. Details are available at www.agakhanacademies.org/hyderabad.
The Aga Khan Academy is part of an international network of schools being established by the Aga Khan in some key locations in South and Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
It is accredited as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and is recognised as a Microsoft Showcase School.
There is no fixed quota for Bangladesh. Girls and boys are selected based on merit, regardless of socio-economic background, race, religion or culture.
Financial assistance is also available to ensure talents do not miss the world class education because of money.
According to the Academy, graduates have already achieved 100 percent university placement at internationally ranked universities, over 20 percent of which are in the world’s top 200 universities ranked by Shanghai Index.
The Hyderabad school’s 100-acre campus features classrooms, resource areas and extensive sports facilities together with academic facilities that include eight laboratories, an arts and crafts block, and dance and recording facilities.
Imtiyaz Hariyani (Class of 2014): Leading the Way to a Brighter Future
“I think that the [Academy’s] vision has made it possible to look at a bright future.” The future for Imtiyaz Hariyani could not look any brighter. A member of the Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad’s (AKA,H’s) first graduating class, Imtiyaz will commence his Bachelor of Science, focusing in biochemistry, at NYU Abu Dhabi on a full scholarship awarded on the basis of academic excellence, community service, extracurricular involvement and a capacity for leadership, Imtiyaz excelled both in and outside the classroom.
During his time at the Academy, Imtiyaz served as both the head of logistics for the Academy’s Model United Nations programme and as Captain of the Academy’s cricket team. A fan of the Indian Premier League’s Chennai Super Kings, his passion for the sport is evident. Imtiyaz also played a lead role in organising the popular AKA,H co-ed cricket league, an experience he recounts as being one of his most memorable. “Among my most unforgettable experiences would be the cricket league, especially the third season – we had more matches, we improved the quality of the league,” he says, adding humorously, “I also won that season.”
Head of Academy, Dr Fisher, featured in Mentor magazine
We are delighted to announce that our Head of Academy, Dr Fisher, and the achievements through our Hyderabad journey have been profiled through a cover story in Mentor magazine’s November 2016 issue. Mentor magazine is India’s most respected print magazine focused on school leadership, principals and educators.
Here is the magazine in PDF format. Alternatively, click here to read the in-depth interview with Dr Fisher online in the context of his leadership role at the Academy. What a testament to our mission to nurture stewards who will make a positive contribution to a changing world!
Participants from 31 countries to display flying skills at kite festival
HYDERABAD: Bringing a global flavour to the much-loved tradition of flying kites during Sankranti, the International Kite Festival began here on Thursday evening at People's Plaza. The event is being held in the city for the second time in a row.
The sky was dotted with kites of various shapes and sizes as both the young and old participated enthusiastically in the event that continued even after the sun set.
Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad, has kick-started its ‘Showcase Week’ at Phoenix Arena on Tuesday. It started with a painting exhibition by students of Class VII to XI. The art expo was inaugurated by Sravanthi Juluri, a renowned artist. The art show is on display until March 17.
Following the painting exhibition inauguration, a multilingual play ‘Vishwavikhyatha Mooku’ was staged by the students of Aga Khan Academy at the Amphitheatre. The comedy play ‘Vishwavikhyatha Mooku’ is adapted from the Kerala’s fiction writer Vaikom Mohammad Basheer’s play of the same name.
The play revolves around a young man, Mukun, who works as a cook in a rich man’s house. After his 24th birthday celebrations, his nose starts growing day by day and it reaches to his navel. Due to this, he loses his job and later he becomes popular with his big nose. Knowing his popularity, the local politicians use him for their election campaigns. And many curious scientists conduct research and discussions to see if the nose is real of fake.
The 90-minute comedy play is a perfect example of how one person can be used for the benefits of others. It is also showcased the behaviour of media and politicians in the country. ‘Vishwavikhyatha Mooku’ is also a hilarious take on how people react to the unexpected things. Around 15 children, who acted in the play, mesmerised the audience with their flawless performance.
Hyderabad: The fourth Graduation Ceremony of 69 students of Grade 12 of The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad held here in city at its premises near Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on Saturday.
H.E. Mrs. Nurjehan Mawani, Diplomatic Representative to His Highness the Aga Khan in Afghanistan graced as the Chief Guest.
Addressing the passing out students, H.E. Mrs. Nurjehan Mawani told them to be an ambassador for the academy, its values and what it represents. Life’s journey will be filled with unlimited opportunities, possibilities and both favorable and unfavourable winds under your wings.
The World that you want to help build and create will help you navigate your choices Surround yourself with people whose outlooks are not restricted by physical boundaries – be aware of the failure of pluralism, she said
The Aga Khan Academy is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and the second in the network of Aga Khan Academies established by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Academies are an integrated network of about 18 residential schools in 14 countries in Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Graham Ranger, the network’s new Academic Director has flown in from Paris for the occasion.
Mr. Salim Bhatia. Director of Academics from Atlanta, gave Opening Remarks. Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Head of The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad gave welcome remarks.
The mission of the Academies, Geoffrey Fisher said is to raise ‘homegrown leaders’ through service and stewardship who will make positive contributions to their future society and change outcomes across the developing world.
The Academy places strong emphasis on integrating technology into classroom learning as a leading Indian Microsoft Showcase School. It is also the only school in Hyderabad to have received the IGBC Platinum Rating Certification, making it a pioneer in the national Indian green schools movement.
The highlight was the ceremony live streamed to the sister Academy in Mombasa in Kenya as well as Afghanistan to include parents and families of students currently at the Academies in both countries.
The 2017 Graduation Ceremony marks the culmination of a significant Academy experience. Graduates will join the growing number of Academy alumni who have achieved remarkable success in both Academy results and university placements. Alumni scholarship awards are notable, valued at approximately $11.7 million across four graduating cohorts.
The school is located in 100 acres campus and has 5 lakh square feet built up area. The Academy in Hyderabad now educates 650+ students from 5 years to 18 years offering world class facilities. It is part of a global network being established in 14 countries across Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East. The Academies are part of AKDN (Aga Khan Development Network), the world’s largest private development organization.
AKDN contributes more than 6.5 billion USD to projects in 30+ countries to address the big global problems of poverty, health, education and heritage challenge
With a curriculum explicitly designed to develop leadership through a values framework of five strands: ethics, pluralism, cultures and heritage, governance and civil society, the Academy places strong emphasis on integrating technology into classroom learning as a leading Indian Microsoft Showcase School. It is also the only school in Hyderabad to have received the IGBC Platinum Rating Certification, making it a pioneer in the national Indian green schools movement.
Lens turn students into storytellers
By Express News Service | Published: 12th April 2017 05:16 AM |
Last Updated: 12th April 2017 05:16 AM | A+A A- |
HYDERABAD: Students of Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad of the advanced Fredric Roberts Photography Workshop spent the last week unearthing powerful visual stories on women Anganwadi workers in neighbourhood villages, and the repercussions of dramatic urbanisation in Hyderabad and its surrounding areas.
Using professional DSLR cameras, the dozen students from grades 10-12 were empowered to identify, critique, question and analyse fundamental global issues in their immediate environment through the lens of photography.
“This isn’t just a photography workshop – it’s a process of transforming young people’s lives through the use of photography,” explains Fred, award-winning photographer and retired Wall Street executive. “We teach the skills of photography and telling stories through photographs but it’s much more than this. It gives young people knowledge and perspective, and gets them to engage with their environment.”
Fred initiated his voluntary workshops for high school students in 2011 in Udaipur, and has since conducted them in several countries across the world including Bhutan, Nicaragua, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Portugal, Canada, and the US. With assistance from a faculty of world-class photographers, each beginners workshop trains a group of 20 students, an equal number of girls and boys, and half from lower-income families.
Through a unique partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation, Fred had his first beginners workshop at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad in October 2016 and has returned for a specially designed, intensive three-day advanced workshop for 12 of the previous graduates. This will be followed by the normal, one-week beginner’s workshop later with a group of new students, half from the Academy and half from the nearby government schools.
This model of learning integrates diverse socio-economic perspectives, and in the process forges a strong sense of connection and respect among the students. He also ensures sustainability by training staff who continue to mentor the novice photographers once the workshop concludes.
Academy team bags gold medal at international robotics competition
27 students from the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad competed for the first time in an international robotics competition called “FIRST Lego League” (FLL) in Bangalore on 20-21 January and brought home a gold medal! These motivated students were introduced to robotics through the Academy’s after school enrichment program over the last two years. This year, Michelle Massaro, a visiting faculty member from Ontario, Canada who has extensive experience with competitive robotics in both Canada and Uganda, introduced the FLL program to the Academy. Preparations began for the competition in late September 2017 and what was going to be one team from the Academy quickly grew into three as the programme took off with a huge surge of interest and popularity.
On 29th January 2018 the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad was selected as one of Asia’s 100 greatest brands 2017 (K-12 category) by AsiaOne Magazine in a special research based listing of regional enterprises by independent industry body, URS (United Research Services Media Consulting).
Students harness creativity for social change at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad
Mawlana Hazar Imam landed in Hyderabad 26 February for the third leg of his Diamond Jubilee trip to India. One of AKDN’s newest projects in India is the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, which he inaugurated in 2013. In this article we will look at some projects undertaken by students at the Academy that combine creativity and civic responsibility.
Aga Khan Academy to train teachers, aims high in country
HYDERABAD: After years of educating students, the Aga Khan Academy is now focussing on developing educators.
In partnership with the Telangana state education department, teachers of local government schools will be trained to themselves become trainers so they can share the knowledge and skills gained with colleagues. This will be made possible through a professional development centre situated on campus.
Aga Khan Academies partners with Ryerson University on training for innovation
Students from around the world will participate in the DMZ Sandbox Basecamp summer program
The Aga Khan Academies global network of schools and Ryerson University have established a partnership to help develop Academies students as part of the next wave of socially conscious young innovators.
Ryerson is providing 12 fellowships over three years for Academies students and faculty to attend the Ryerson DMZ Sandbox Basecamp summer programme, an intensive six-week programme for young entrepreneurs. The collaboration between the two institutions follows a visit by Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor of Ryerson University, to the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad in 2017.
Hyderabad: From the class of 2018, 84 students who concluded their International Baccalaureate attended the fifth graduation ceremony of The Aga Khan Academy held at its campus near Shamshabad.
Apart from fellow students, Academy senior management, faculty and staff as well as parents, extended families and invited guests also were present at the ceremony which falls during the Diamond Jubilee year of His Highness the Aga Khan, according to a press release.
Speaking on the occasion, Salim Bhatia, Director of Academies, said the students have benefitted directly from the vision, commitment, and immense generosity of Aga Khan.
The Alumni scholarship awards value at approximately $17.7 million across five graduating cohorts.
Ambassador Arif Lalani, Head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs for the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon, Portugal was the chief guest for the ceremony, the release added.
The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad recently celebrated its fifth graduation ceremony at its 100-acre campus near Shamshabad.
Published: 04th June 2018 11:12 PM | Last Updated: 05th June 2018 04:12 AM
By Express News Service
HYDERABAD: The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad recently celebrated its fifth graduation ceremony at its 100-acre campus near Shamshabad. 84 students from the Class of 2018 concluded their International Baccalaureate journey at the Academy with a formal evening ceremony attended by fellow students, Academy senior management, faculty and staff as well as parents, extended families and invited guests.
Speaking on the occasion, Salim Bhatia, Director of Academies, said, “Academy students have benefitted directly from the vision, commitment, and immense generosity of Aga Khan.
When the foundation stone for the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad was laid, His Highness quoted: ‘Specialised expertise, pragmatic temperament, mental resourcefulness - these are increasingly the keys to effective leadership, along with a capacity for intellectual leadership, which keeps one’s mind constantly open to a variety of viewpoints and welcomes pluralistic exchange. In such a world, the most important thing a student can learn is the ability to keep on learning.’”
The Alumni scholarship awards value at approximately $17.7 million across five graduating cohorts. After five years, 269 alumni, 980 offers, over 150 universities in 11 countries, the Academy is steadily moving towards its goal of raising global citizens who possess an ability to tackle the extraordinary challenges of today’s world.
The mission of the Academies is to raise ‘homegrown leaders’ through service and stewardship who will make positive contributions to their future society and change outcomes across the developing world.
HE Ambassador Arif Lalani, Head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs for the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon, Portugal was the Chief Guest for the ceremony.
The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad concluded its first ever international football camp at the end of the two-week vacation. 79 students from grades 5-11 took part in the residential camp between 8th-18th October. Heading the camp were four seasoned coaches from Canada and the UK. The aim of the camp was to advance footballing ability in students and also instil values to carry into their careers.
Sarah Keshvani: Using biology to tackle environmental challenges
Aga Khan Academy alumna Sarah Keshvani is currently in her first year at the University of Victoria, Canada, on a full scholarship as part of the Academies’ long-standing partnership with the university. She plans to major in either biological sciences, with a concentration in neuroscience or kinesiology, or biochemistry.
Sarah’s love for the sciences flourished during the Diploma Programme at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad. Through her Extended Essay, she found the opportunity to learn more about how biology can provide solutions to modern challenges faced in local communities. She decided to tackle the issue of water shortages and soil nutrient deficiencies hindering large scale rice cultivation in the state of Telangana, India, leading to reduced crop yields. Due to zinc deficiencies in the soil, farmers resort to using huge amounts of fertilisers, which further degrade soil quality.
Sarah’s research centred on hydroponics as a possible solution to this problem. Plants are grown in water-based, nutrient solutions instead of soil. “This technique has recently garnered a lot of attention because experiments have shown that growth is more than doubled when compared to traditional methods of agriculture,” explains Sarah. “Nutrient uptake is more efficient, and farmers can control the type of nutrients that the plant is exposed to, in order to enhance different features of the yield. The use of water in hydroponics is still much more efficient than how it is used in open paddy fields that need to be covered in water during certain times of the crop cycle.”
“I designed my semi-closed hydroponics system based on the deep water culture technique,” Sarah elaborates. “Instead of buying the nutrient solution, I made my own. I wanted to specifically observe and analyse the effect of zinc uptake on the plant’s overall health. So I used four different zinc concentrations, and for the fifth set of plants, zinc was not added at all. Data was recorded over the course of three weeks. The effect of zinc was analysed through five variables: shoot length, root:shoot ratio, chlorophyll content, biomass, and relative water content percentage. The goal was to find out an optimal concentration of zinc from those four different concentrations.”
Sarah’s conclusions were positive. Rapid growth was observed and the flexibility to control the nutrient uptake played a huge role in optimal plant health. She realised that a closed system would have provided more accurate results, as the higher evaporation rates disturbed the pH levels. Overall, however, she deduced that this technique could definitely tackle the challenges faced by paddy farmers.
Sarah’s work with hydroponics was instrumental in securing her a role as a molecular biology research assistant at university. Her duties include assisting professors and doctorate students in their research; basic lab maintenance and keeping stocks; preparing bacterial and plant growth media, plant samples and solutions for analysis. She also gets to work with graduate and PhD students on experiments involving nucleic acid isolation, amplification and cloning.
“The IB curriculum followed at the Aga Khan Academy has played a pivotal role in building many skills essential for university life,” Sarah reflects, when asked how she has settled into this new phase. “The emphasis on academic integrity and independence have served me really well here. I was taught to think critically rather than blindly follow textbooks. Its skill-based learning approach, and connecting classroom learning to the real world, also prepared me well for higher education.”
Alisha Sonawalla: Pushing the frontiers of technology
Alisha Sonawalla was member of AKA Hyderabad’s first graduating cohort, the Class of 2014. Since then, she has accumulated an extraordinary set of experiences during a gap year and subsequently at university in New York City. These experiences range from heading projects geared to exposing girls in rural India to coding and internet technologies, to designing English language development programmes in Tajikistan and, most recently, to spending summers in Silicon Valley working on self-driving cars.
Alisha is currently pursuing a dual degree – a B.S. in Computer Science (from NYU Courant) and a B.S. in Management Science with a concentration in Data Science (from NYU Stern School of Business). She has received the Dean’s Honour Roll for securing a Grade Point Average in the top 10% of the class. Outside the classroom, she has dabbled in multiple projects including building her own robo newsreader, and experimenting with developing a secure cloud-sharing service.
“The Academy helped me become comfortable with making mistakes and encouraged me to focus on identifying solutions instead,” explains Alisha. “That, and my gap year experiences, ignited in me a passion for tech and an entrepreneurial spirit, and ever since, I have been excited about building products to push the frontiers of technology forward.”
Alisha’s internships at university have provided her with unparalleled opportunities to deepen her technical knowledge. In 2017, she took an internship at IBM, where she worked with machine learning algorithms to develop a predictive model that would help IBM use unstructured data to forecast revenues for subsequent quarters. Last summer, she engaged with cutting-edge technologies as a software engineer on General Motors and Honda’s joint autonomous car venture, Cruise Automation. “It was an exciting time to be in in the epicentre of tech,” she reminisces. “I led the development of a large-scale mapping service to deliver real-time, pre-emptive updates to the vehicle, allowing them to make more efficient routing decisions and enhanced ride safety. As one of the early engineers in the self-driving car space, it was amazing to have the opportunity to contribute towards the future of tech.”
Alisha’s technological accomplishments of the past and plans for the future are marked by a social dimension. Her work with Agastya International Foundation, the world’s largest hands-on science program, took her to a small, rural village in Southern India and involved designing a programme based on Google Bus and Raspberry Pi devices. The programme encouraged 900 students to combine scientific concepts with technology to find a solution to a local issue, such as soil contamination or crop infestation. “The girls’ newfound confidence became my motivation as I travelled across India and to Tajikistan conducting sessions for women on STEM opportunities,” shares Alisha. She was also one of 25 female engineers globally who was awarded the Goldman Sachs Grace Hopper Conference Scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, the largest conference for woman in tech.
In 2013, while still studying at the Academy in Hyderabad, Alisha travelled across four remote villages of Gujarat to document the livelihood and survival strategies of a lost community, the Devipujaks. Her interviews and field research was compiled into one of the only ethnographic studies done on this marginalized group of people. She presented her findings at the National Conference on Human Rights organised by the Central University of Gujarat and the Government of India.
“I do see myself returning to India at some point,” Alisha states. “I see a lot of potential for innovation in bringing the next billion users online, and I want to be a part of this tech revolution. With a growing population, the lack of an educated workforce could create the biggest hindrance to economic prosperity, and therefore it is essential to focus resources on education. Once the workforce is educated, it will be important to open up avenues of employment. Though we have seen smart phones and access to cheap internet become commonplace in India, there are still large pockets of the country that can benefit from access to better technology infrastructure. This would allow more home-grown start-ups to flourish, and enhance the ease of doing business in India for foreign companies for whom the 1.3 billion consumer base is extremely attractive." In the meantime, Alisha is joining Microsoft as a software engineer on their AI & Mixed Reality team.
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