AKA Mombasa organises first cross-campus Peace Summit | Aga Khan Academies

AKA Mombasa organises first cross-campus Peace Summit

30 March 2021

From 22-23 March 2021, students and teachers across the Academies Network connected with each other through our first cross-campus Peace Summit that was held virtually. 

As part of their unit in Humanities, the two-day event is held annually at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa and organised by the Diploma Programme 1 students for the Grade 9 students at the Academy and the Academy’s partner schools. During the Peace Summit, students engage in various sessions where they discuss global issues and possible resolutions. However, with the Grade 9 students not physically on campus at AKA Mombasa due to COVID-19, the event was moved online and became an event that could be shared with the other Academies and the Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi as a virtual, collaborative event. 

The theme for this year’s Peace Summit, “Peace Takes Everyone”, focused on how the current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted numerous people around the world and what can be done to support those affected. The event also hosted two prominent keynote speakers, Edith Alusa-Bosire – the co-founder of EED Advisory, which is a Pan-African consulting firm providing solutions to climate change – and Matt Reeves – the Aga Khan Foundation’s Global Lead for Civil Society in Nairobi, Kenya and has supported civil society strengthening initiatives in over 30 countries. 

Below, we hear from teachers and students from each campus on their experience during this year’s Peace Summit. 

The Aga Khan Academy Mombasa

The Aga Khan Academy Mombasa held its 9th annual Peace Summit in March, with this year being the first-ever virtual Peace Summit this year. The focus was on conflicts that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how we all can come together for the benefit of each other and our planet.

Our summit was graced by students and teachers from the three Aga Khan Academies in Mombasa, Kenya, Maputo, Mozambique and Hyderabad, India. We were also joined by students from the Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi, with a total attendance on the second day of the event being over 200 participants. The Humanities Department spearheaded this summit by guiding students through the choice of topics and the preparation of the presentations. With this summit being a virtual meeting, there was a need for a marketing team to create awareness of the function as well as a strong IT team to ensure the smooth running of the virtual platform. As we used Zoom for the event, the student facilitators effectively ran their session with the IT team working hand in hand with them. I am grateful for the help of the three students (Ayaan, Amy and Komal) who constituted the executive team and supervised the planning and running of the programme.

We had two keynote speakers. Matt Reeves, the Aga Khan Foundation’s Global Lead for Civil Society, based in Nairobi. Based on his role, he shared with the students the various ways in which communities have responded to the pandemic. His message was that civil society can play a significant part in the solution to the challenges that have been brought about by COVID-19. He ended by calling upon participants to be resilient through surge capacity, communication, generosity, solidarity and innovation.

Our other speaker was Edith Alusa-Bosire, who is the co-founder at EED Advisory Ltd, an African advisory firm actively involved in providing African solutions to African problems in climate change, energy and water space. She painted a picture of how conflict takes place, the sources of conflict and how we can mitigate such situations among ourselves.

In conclusion, the 9th annual Peace Summit was a great success due to the student-led initiatives and commitment, coupled with the strong support of the Humanities Department and the administration.

Susan Abuto, Head of Department for Humanities at AKA Mombasa

The Peace Summit is an annual conference where students get an opportunity to discuss world issues. Under the theme of “Peace Takes Everyone” students from across the Aga Khan Academies and the Aga Khan Academy Nairobi interacted with each other by sharing their thoughts about how the pandemic has influenced the relations of different stakeholders between and within countries. Additionally, the guest speakers from different organisations added a practical view to our discussions. Personally, being a student executive for the event, I was heart warmed by the participation of the Grade 9 students from the other campuses as they were open to understanding different perspectives. All in all, the Peace Summit gave me a wider scope about how peace can be resolved and the different perspectives people have about peace."

Ayaan Charania, Diploma Programme 1 student at AKA Mombasa

The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad 

The 40th president of the United States Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict in a peaceful way.”

Ms. Susan Abuto, the Head of Department for Humanities at AKA Mombasa, sent me an invite to provide an opportunity for the Grade 9 students at AKA Hyderabad to participate in this programme – for which I shall remain hugely indebted. From the reflections we got from our students, it was clearly evident that the well-managed event was somber and full of information, interspersed with fun-filled, but thoughtful moments where young learners had space to deliberate on well-analysed pieces of information. The speeches from the keynote speakers – Matt Reeves and Edith Alusa-Bosire – were greatly appreciated by our young participants.

Since our Grade 9 students had just completed a unit on conflict studies, this summit proved to be a natural progression towards conflict resolution culminating in peace, and the students had the opportunity to travel full circle beyond classroom studies. Our Grade 9 Humanities teachers, Ms. Afeera Maryam and Ms. Aarushi Dutt had the chance to actually visit some of the sessions and they echoed extremely positive reviews which they have shared with us.

Thanks to AKA Mombasa for exposing the teachers and students of the Hyderabad campus to such an enriching extended learning session!

Ms. Jina Saha, Head of Department for Humanities at AKA Hyderabad 

The Peace Summit, facilitated by DP1 students from the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, has been a remarkable opportunity for us as Grade 9 students to broaden our views about conflict and peace. Discussing pertinent issues such as COVID-19 and its impacts, I believe it was extremely beneficial because we’ve explored similar topics in our Integrated Societies lessons. Perhaps the best part about this was getting insights from students in Kenya and Mozambique since it enabled us to examine conflicts and issues through contextual lenses. 

Even while talking about the coronavirus, which hit everywhere, we observed that the virus has had different implications for different people, dependent on a number of factors such as wealth, gender and access to education and healthcare. I was glad that I was able to link this back to the work that we did in the unit about COVID-19 and inequality. The sessions themselves were interactive and seeing peers from the other Academies made it better, even if it was only virtually. There were quite a few ice-breaking sessions as well, which helped us with getting to know a number of different people and deepen our bond with those who we had already met through the Virtual Exchange. The sessions took place in groups of 20 and that made it easier to run, allowing everyone who wanted to take part in the discussion to do so. 

Distance learning has made it tougher for engagement to take place sometimes, but this has been a unique experience through which I could obtain knowledge from people in other parts of the world, and view conflicts and peace from numerous lenses.

Sarah Nathani, Grade 9 student at AKA Hyderabad 

The Aga Khan Academy Maputo

The focus of the Peace Summit was on conflicts that have arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can provide support to each other during this time. A range of topics was discussed, ranging from contemporary social, environmental and political conflicts; the impact of the pandemic on global peace; the impact of the lockdown measures on societies; and post-pandemic life. 

This event was an excellent opportunity for the Academies to collaboratively engage with topical issues. The high level of student engagement and the excellent quality of contributions made by each participant in the different sessions was a clear testimony to the students’ enthusiasm towards the summit. Also, the huge success of the summit was a clear demonstration of student agency. Hats off to the Humanities Department and DP1 students at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa for successfully hosting the summit.  

Zvikomborero Katsande, Humanities teacher at AKA Maputo

The Peace Summit was something really interesting for me. I got to meet some new people from Mombassa and Hyderabad campuses and they were all really nice. This was my first time doing this and it was a nice experience. We played some Kahoot games and I had fun and enjoyed it. At first, I was kind of confused about what we were doing and why we were doing it, but in the end, I was glad we did this – it was a nice experience and fun. At the end of the day, I gained some more knowledge and did it while having fun. 

Hollis Franci, Grade 9 student at AKA Maputo