In Portugal, Human-Centred Design workshops prepare trainers, who will then facilitate workshops in schools.

AKDN / Rui Gouveia

In Portugal, K’Cidade, AKF’s urban community support programme, brings together people from different …

AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura

In Portugal, K’Cidade, AKF’s urban community support programme, brings together people from different …

AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura

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Portugal | Education


The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is working with almost 11,000 learners at over 100 schools and learning spaces

In Portugal, Human-Centred Design workshops prepare trainers, who will then facilitate workshops in schools. 


Education Improvement


AKF is leading Schools2030, a global 10-year participatory action research and learning improvement programme based in 1,000 government schools across 10 countries, including Portugal. Using the principles of human-centred design and focusing on the key transition years of ages five, 10 and 15, Schools2030 seeks to annually generate 1,000 locally rooted education solutions that can inform and transform systems-level approaches for improving holistic learning outcomes for all learners. The initiative also includes early childhood development through a pre-primary cohort and interventions to equip young people with employable skills.

Portugal’s target is to enrol 100 school clusters. We are starting with the most vulnerable territories where we work, and where high rates of early school dropout, repeated years and social exclusion are displayed.

Find out more

Secondary for All (Secundário para Todos)

This programme was designed by the Lisbon City Council Department of Education and Social Rights and schools to prevent children having to repeat years or dropping out. AKF has been invited to manage several integrated interventions of this programme, which have been proposed by school clusters themselves. It is the single municipal programme in the country with an ambition of becoming a public policy.

We supported the Artistic and Aesthetic Education National Programme in public schools across the country from 2013 to 2019. This programme promotes arts and culture in schools to give children, teachers and families an appreciation of art and culture. It reached 109 school clusters and 19,171 students. Since 2019, we have been supporting the pilot project Schools’ Cultural Programme to model a framework that can be used nationally. During 2020, this project reached 1,218 students and 590 professionals.

Intercultural Education

The Network of Schools for Intercultural Education (REEI) supports the sharing of intercultural education practices between 47 clusters of schools (279 public, private or cooperative education establishments). It promotes respect for differences and positive interactions between students and other members of the educational community, regardless of cultural background. It is a national initiative jointly led by the Directorate-General for Education (DGE), the High Commissioner for Migration (ACM) and AKF. Since 2016, we have worked with 18 school clusters in Greater Lisbon, reaching around 3,500 students and 33 professionals per year. In 2020, REEI engaged 47 school clusters, reaching 16,012 students and 2,100 professionals nationally.

Materials resulting from this work include a multilingual brochure to support navigation through the education system, and an Equity and Participation Toolkit, seeking to foster the growth of a society with more dialogue and inclusiveness.

Westmont Hospitality Hall, a new home for the Westmont Institute of Tourism and Hospitality at NOVA University’s School of Business and Economics. 

AKDN / Luis Catarino

Higher Education

AKU has established a network of partner institutions in Portugal to support its work and that of the Network agencies around its Quality of Life initiative with a focus on health sciences, education, cultures and ethics. Areas of collaboration include research, training, teaching and learning, and mobility of faculty, staff and students.

We currently collaborate with the Catholic University of Portugal and NOVA University on academic and research ventures and with the Curry Cabral Hospital, the Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central and the Ministries of Health, Science and Technology on several initiatives.

In 2008 AKU signed an agreement of academic collaboration (renewed in 2013 and 2019) with the Catholic University of Portugal (CUP) to support projects in:

  • public health nursing;

  • curriculum development;

  • digital archives relating to the Indian Ocean; and

  • mobility opportunities for CUP students.

The partnership has yielded access to new funding, resources, geographies and AKDN agency partnerships. More broadly, it has increased the visibility of both institutions locally and internationally. AKU’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, in collaboration with CUP, is currently developing a summer programme on history, heritage and material cultures for students.

In 2019 AKU signed an agreement of cooperation with NOVA University. Areas of collaboration include:

  • research, PhD training and exchanges on regenerative medicine;

  • sub-specialty training in cardio-thoracic surgery;

  • faculty and staff exchanges, along with student internships in public health and media and communications through the Erasmus initiative; and

  • AKU’s Virtual Internship Programme.

In 2019 we organised an international symposium on Stem Cell Science, Regenerative Medicine, Ethics and Society jointly with NOVA. It brought together international experts from a variety of fields and backgrounds to Lisbon to discuss the implications of regenerative medicine on society and culture.

At the Curry Cabral Hospital, the donation of the Da Vinci surgical system by the Ismaili Imamat has supported over 240 surgeries since the start of 2020. AKU’s health sciences team has been collaborating on the development of a liver surgery and transplant programme with Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central. This has included joint liver cancer clinics to exchange knowledge and the joint management of complex cases. The hospital has offered training opportunities for AKU anaesthesiologists, intensive care specialists and hepatologists.

The partnerships between AKU and these institutions build bridges between diverse faiths and peoples, using the universal language of scholarship. These partnerships are an opportunity to address shared concerns, develop key knowledge, identify best practices and common interests, and foster greater understanding of global challenges affecting our world today.

Portuguese Research Initiative

Through the Seat Agreement, the Ismaili Imamat undertook to support Portugal’s efforts to improve the quality of life through world-class research. In 2016, the Imamat and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education signed a €10 million, 10-year protocol. Its aim is to improve the quality of life, mainly in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, by funding research in:

  • medical sciences;

  • public health;

  • biodiversity;

  • habitat;

  • food security;

  • poverty alleviation;

  • sustainable energy; and

  • pluralism.

The government has matched the Imamat funding, meaning a total budget of €20m. This initiative exemplifies the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the Imamat and Portugal.

AKDN and the governmental agency Foundation for Science and Technology launched the first call for proposals in 2017 for research grants up to €300,000 over three years. Of the 78 proposals 74 met the eligibility criteria and 16 were recommended for funding, representing a 20 percent success rate.

The second call was concluded in 2021. The 210 proposals comprised 663 partners from 32 countries and 21 projects were awarded. Third and fourth calls will follow. An external scientific review panel is undertaking continuous follow-up to ensure the correct execution of the projects, helping them to have their desired impact.