Salim Bhatia, welcome address at AKA Mombasa graduation | Aga Khan Academies

Salim Bhatia, welcome address at AKA Mombasa graduation

25 May 2013

Honorable guests, families, colleagues, and members of the graduating class of 2013, ladies and gentlemen, 

It is with great pleasure that I, Salim Bhatia, have the privilege of partaking in this most joyous occasion with you. It has been nearly 10 years since His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision of an unique integrated network of schools, with high international standards, began taking shape.  

Today, as we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2013—the seventh and largest class of IB diploma graduates at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa—we can appreciate how far we’ve come in materializing this vision, and we can share with you our aspirations for the future. 

The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa is the pioneer institution of an expanding network, and it has seen a decade of growth and accomplishments that reach far beyond its campus walls. 

In Hyderabad, India, the home of the second Aga Khan Academy, which opened in 2011, there are over 240 students this year, and the first IB diploma class of 30 students will graduate in 2014. 

And, while you may not realize it, your teachers here in Mombasa are already working closely with the 41 faculty members in Hyderabad who are also very committed to the Academies’ vision and who, like your own teachers, want to develop young people to become leaders in their country. 

The third Aga Khan Academy, located in Maputo, Mozambique, will open its lower primary school to students later this year. 

The vision of a network is becoming a reality, and each and every one of you are part of this network and part of this community of young leaders. You hold the key to the future development of Kenya, of East Africa and of our world. Over the past 10 years, we have striven to build the foundations that will enable our students and the communities around them to become catalysts of change. 

By emphasising the principles of integrity, ethics and pluralism and encouraging an adamant pursuit of knowledge and understanding, we work continuously towards empowering individuals to impact their world in a positive manner. Beyond offering access to academics of an exceptional standard, we are driven by the fundamental precept that it is through a holistic education that we can achieve the most powerful and positive change. 

I am proud of how our students actively use the knowledge and experience they’ve acquired in an effort to improve the quality of life of others. You are at the head of many important initiatives aimed at improving people’s lives, one step at a time. Our students and graduates are never short of creative ideas and exciting ways to share their knowledge, their skills and their time to the challenges of those in need. 

Congratulations—Class of 2013, Congratulations—Aga Khan Academy faculty and staff, on your extraordinary achievements and your invaluable contributions to society. You have made outstanding contributions thus far, and we look forward to following the many, many more we know you will make in future years. 

A Canadian newspaper recently interviewed students on the subject of education and its fundamental role in the advancement of East African nations. Most students discussed their future aspirations by citing a particular profession: engineer, doctor, or other notable career. To the reporter’s surprise, however, our Academy students did not simply aspire to professions but instead presented a thoughtful reflection on how their careers, in whichever field they might choose, would make a positive difference in their community. 

This is a powerful testament to the character and integrity of our students, as well as the immeasurable promise of leadership that you hold. 

Part of our commitment and responsibility as educators is to teach our students that social change is not about a particular career path: it is a principle by which to live, an active choice and the will to contribute to the well-being of those around us, in whatever it is that we chose to do. This message is one that our students have fully embraced. This is our legacy, one that we hope each and every individual of our community will perpetuate.  

Today, we have the privilege and the honour of being addressed by an individual whose professional achievements and personal commitments embody this very principle. He is an example of how a successful career in the private for-profit sector and a commitment to social change can and should go hand-in-hand.  

It is my great pleasure to welcome and formally introduce this year’s distinguished keynote speaker, Mr. Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Managing Director for Serena Hotels Africa and Head of the Tourism Department for the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. 

Mr. Jan Mohamed is a Mombasa native who was educated at the Aga Khan Primary and Secondary Schools here. He continued his education by training in Hotel Management in the UK and then worked in Geneva before returning to Kenya in 1975 to join Hallmark Hotels.

Mr. Jan Mohamed began his career with Serena Hotels in 1978 as Resident Manager of the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel. He is currently responsible for 35 hotels, lodges and safari resorts located in nine countries in Africa and Asia. Under his guidance, Serena Hotels has been voted the Most Respected Company in the tourism sector in East Africa for five successive years in surveys conducted by the globally respected PricewaterhouseCoopers.  

In addition to his demanding and challenging role at Serena and the Aga Khan Development Network, he is the Founder-Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation, a Trustee of the East African Wildlife Society, a Director on the Kenya Tourism Board, and a Board member on the Eastern Africa Association Advisory Council and the Kenya Land Conservation Trust.

Mr. Jan Mohamed has also served as the Honorary Chairman of Aga Khan Education Services in Mombasa and in Nairobi. 

He is married with three adult children who graduated from British universities. 

We are very fortunate to have such an exemplary leader and role model here today to address our graduating class of future leaders. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Mahmud Jan Mohamed.