Dhaka, 27 July 2017 — Members of the Jamat were invited to participate in an event hosted by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which brought together leaders of government and civil society, and representatives of the diplomatic community, for an evening of celebration and friendship.
Imamat Institutions have been present in Bangladesh since 1955, when Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah directed investments towards what became a thriving jute mill industry. Today, the AKDN works in the areas of early childhood development, pre-tertiary education, and financial services. Building upon the Protocol of Cooperation signed by Mawlana Hazar Imam with the government in 2013, the AKDN in Bangladesh is engaged with the government and a variety of development partners to help bring social and economic progress to all people of Bangladesh.
AKDN’s Resident Representative in Bangladesh, Mr Munir M. Merali, welcomed over 300 guests including the Chief Guest, His Excellency Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In his speech, Mr Mahmood Ali stated that, “The Aga Khan’s work is underpinned by an emphasis on Islam as a spiritual faith which cherishes the role of the intellect, teaches compassion and tolerance, and upholds the dignity of humankind.”
Mr Merali in turn remarked that the historic Jubilees of Mawlana Hazar Imam “serve as important milestones for His Highness to recognise the friendship and longstanding support of leaders of state, governments, and other partners in the work of the Imamat, and to set the direction for the future including the launching of major new initiatives and programmes that are guided by the social ethic of concern for those vulnerable in the society”
The Diamond Jubilee year, which began on 11 July 2017, also provides an opportunity to focus on a number of global objectives, including an emphasis on education through establishing new centres of learning and strengthening existing ones. One such endeavour is the Aga Khan Academies, a network of residential schools offering girls and boys an international standard of education from pre-primary to secondary levels with a rigorous academic and leadership experience, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Each Academy also includes a Professional Development Centre, which aims at strengthening the profession of teaching in the respective region. Aga Khan Academies currently operate in Mombasa, Hyderabad and Maputo, while plans are in place for an Academy to open in Dhaka in the coming years.
Staff of the Aga Khan Academies and other AKDN agencies, including the Aga Khan Foundation and Aga Khan Education Services were present at the event to discuss their current activities in the region, along with leadership from the Ismaili Council for Bangladesh and other Jamati leaders, to explore the possibility of expanding programmatic activities for the ongoing support towards the development of Bangladesh.