High school student Aimaan Sayani has lived in Pakistan and Canada, and spent five years studying at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. “When I used to hear Aga Khan Academies students talk about studying there, and when I read about the school, I was so intrigued,” she said.

The Aga Khan Academy (AKA) Mombasa is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The IB curriculum focuses on “fostering critical thinking and building problem-solving skills, while encouraging diversity, international mindedness, curiosity, and a healthy appetite for learning and excellence.” This unique curriculum attracted Aimaan to the Academy in Mombasa, where her brother had already studied. 

“The Academy seemed like a really unique and interesting place to be. I was attracted by the excellent education being offered there and that students were striving to achieve big academic goals,” Aimaan explained. 

At the school, she had the opportunity to live with students from different parts of the world and volunteer in places she wouldn’t have been able to beforehand. Aimaan said that “The Academy’s emphasis on community and service and the interesting projects students were involved with also attracted me to the school.” 

Aimaan studied at the Diploma Programme level, which means her courses were at both the higher and standard levels. She studies Physics, Chemistry and Information Technology in a Global Society at a higher level and Mathematics Analysis and Approaches, English Language and Literature, and French at the standard level. 

“I chose my higher-level subjects because I developed a passion for them in the IB Middle Years Programme,” said Aimaan. “My curiosity about the intricacies and wonders of the natural world nudged me to select sciences,” she added.

Her classes weren't the only learning and development activities at the school. In fact, her day started as early as 5:30 am. 


Aimaan studied at the Diploma Programme level at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.
Aimaan studied at the Diploma Programme level at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.

In the early hours of the morning, Aimaan and her classmates had morning exercise, or spend that time working on pending assignments. After that, she’ll get ready, have breakfast in the commons and head to her classes. 

“On average, I have five classes per day. Our Academy faculty make the classes engaging and fun with a lot of hands-on activities and captivating conversations,” Aimaan said. “The class I most look forward to is Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS).” 

“I love learning about emerging technologies and how they can be used to solve modern-day problems. For this reason, I selected ITGS.”

After school, she attended enrichment activities, such as soccer, and participated in numerous extra-curricular activities. She participated in programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh award, which focuses on three strands: community service, physical activity, and skills development. 

Aimaan was also an active student council member, where at first she was an academic representative, and later served as the female president of the team. “Being female president has been unique, especially during the pandemic where as a student council team, we have had to come up with safe, innovative ideas to solve student concerns,” she said. 

The emphasis on community service at the academy also led her to found an arts-based girls’ empowerment programme, ‘Elimika’, at a low-income Kenyan community school.

She spends the rest of her day unwinding, doing homework and eating dinner with friends. 

The residential settings at the Aga Khan Academies are ideal places to make lifelong friendships, especially since students live together. “We have shared many special moments studying together, going for excursions together like hiking expeditions, taking care of each other, playing sports on Friday night and going into town together on our Academy bus for weekly prayers,” Aimaan said. 

Aimaan graduated from the Academy in May, receiving one of the highest marks in her IB Diploma exams, and will be attending the University of Waterloo in Canada this autumn.

She is extremely grateful for her experiences at the Academy, and attributes her successes at the school to her teachers and peers. “AKA Mombasa brings out the best in each and every student who studies there, challenging us to be creative, to be leaders, to have a pluralistic outlook, to have a strong sense of ethics, and to take civic responsibility,” Aimaan said. 

“Joining the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa has been life-changing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”