Aga Khan Higher Secondary School for Girls, Hunza, Pakistan.

AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

A young girl at the Aga Khan School Booni, in Chitral, Pakistan. 49% of the over 53,000 students across the Ag...

AKDN / Noor Fareed

Students celebrating their graduation at the Aga Khan University Convocation Ceremony in Karachi.

AKDN / Hakim Sons

The Aga Khan University’s Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan.

AKDN / Gary Otte

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Pakistan | Education



AKU’s Medical College is ranked #1 in Pakistan

A young student at the Aga Khan School Booni, Chitral. In Pakistan, more than half of the 27,000 Aga Khan School students are girls.

AKDN / Noor Fareed

Education Improvement Programme

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is implementing a comprehensive Education Improvement Programme (EIP) to improve schools and children’s learning in remote, marginalised and fragile areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, in close partnership with the government departments of education in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It uses a holistic, cluster and systems approach, enhancing government capacity, improving school leadership, enabling teacher transformation and encouraging parental participation and community engagement. It prioritises girls’ education, recognising that educating girls can have a transformative effect on society and help to break the cycle of poverty. A blended learning classroom guide helps primary school teachers develop a positive emotional climate and more inclusive teaching and learning practice. AKF and partners have also created a teacher development course, enabling educators to explore pluralist and ethical values using a creative life skills approach.

AKF’s current programmes include School Improvement, Girls’ Right to Education, Creating Pathways for the Educational Success of Girls, Foundations for Children COVID-19 Response and Schools2030. AKF supports 1,340 schools, reaching 76,000 children and 3,000 teachers in Gilgit-Baltistan and KPK.

School Improvement Programme

From 2016 to 2021, the School Improvement Programme (SIP) took a holistic approach that put children at the centre of the learning process. With SIP, whole school communities came together to identify solutions to make their local schools more effective.

It aimed to:

  • improve children’s learning outcomes in government, community and low-cost private primary and secondary schools;

  • enable children to complete their education;

  • improve the quality of teaching and instructional leadership;

  • strengthen government education systems; and

  • promote the participation of families and communities in improving local schools.

Government Middle School Ganish, Hunza - Low cost, no cost teaching aids. An AKF-supported School Improvement Programme (SIP) school. In Pakistan, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’s activities in early childhood development provide more than 35,000 students annually aged 0-8 years (59 percent girls) with quality learning opportunities, in both urban and rural settings.

AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

SIP now supports 151 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan and 184 in Chitral. It has reached over 35,800 boys and girls, 1,870 teachers and educators and 2,600 School Management Committee members. It also supports over 510 community and school libraries, benefiting over 70,000 children and parents.

Many school leaders are now working towards achieving targets in their annual school development plans with all the stakeholders and prioritising teaching and learning. Teachers feel more trusted and children report more joyful classrooms. Parents, including illiterate mothers, are visiting schools for the first time, having one-to-one meetings with teachers, and setting monthly targets for children’s learning. Parents now feel a sense of ownership in their children’s learning. Children have become better readers and are improving their learning, with some schools attaining positions in government examinations. Revitalised school management committees have shown that communities can be powerful catalysts for change. Significantly, the programme has shattered the myth that government schools consist of demotivated teachers, disinterested parents and resistance to change.

Find out more

Girls Right To Education Programme

This programme aimed to mainstream out-of-school primary school children (both boys and girls) in the most marginalised areas of Pakistan. Funded by UNESCO, key objectives included improving enrolment, retention and the quality of primary education for girls; and increasing the awareness and capacity of relevant government officials and community members to create an enabling school environment. Activities included:

  • mobilising communities and conducting enrolment campaigns;

  • improving the physical learning environment by attending to missing facilities and providing learning resources;

  • revitalising and building the capacity of School Management Committees;

  • training on school development planning, activity-based learning, multi-grade teaching and reading for children; and

  • supporting education officials.

From 2016 to 2019, the programme reached over 22,400 children, 1,140 teachers, 284 SMC members and over 30 education officials in Gilgit-Baltistan. Interventions are continuing in 93 school communities in Astore and Ghanche, and include COVID-19 response activities.

Creating Pathways for the Educational Success of Girls

Funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, this project aims to improve learning outcomes and develop greater self-esteem, confidence and life skills in 10,500 girls in Chitral and Diamer districts. It works at:

  • an individual level, to improve self-agency and confidence;

  • community-level, to address attitudes and implement locally driven solutions; and

  • education system level, with training and mentoring on child-centred, inclusive and gender-responsive teaching and learning.

These interventions help to remove the social, cultural and economic barriers preventing girls from attending school. They increase demand amongst communities and families, improve the supply of quality education and empower girls themselves to manage complex challenges through leadership and life skills.


Schools2030 is a global 10-year participatory action research and learning improvement programme based in 1,000 government schools across 10 countries, including Pakistan. 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 ECD through a pre-primary cohort and interventions to equip young people with employable skills. In Pakistan, Schools2030 works with a National Advisory Committee and 100 government schools in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, selected from AKF’s SIP-supported schools. Find out more

The Examination Board of the Aga Khan University is a national board of intermediary and secondary education that offers qualifications both in English and in Urdu for the Secondary School and Higher Secondary School certificates.

AKDN / Gary Otte

Examination Board

In 1995, 16 private schools in Pakistan wrote to the Aga Khan University (AKU) to express concern about the poor quality of secondary education in the country. They identified the country’s testing system as a major problem and asked AKU to establish an independent examination board.

In Pakistan, graduation from secondary school and admission to university is contingent upon passing a test set by one of a number of regional examination boards. At the time, these boards were all government entities. The schools’ request launched a process that culminated in AKU establishing Pakistan’s first private examination board, in 2003. While existing examinations largely rewarded memorisation, the AKU Examination Board has taken a different approach, developing exams based on Pakistan’s national curriculum that reward critical thinking and problem solving. At the same time, the Board works closely with schools to provide training, learning materials and appropriate syllabi that help teachers to move away from rote instructional methods and develop students’ analytical skills. The result is graduates who are better prepared to succeed at university and in intellectually demanding occupations, and to make a positive contribution to society.

The Board uses a highly reliable, secure and transparent electronic marking system – the first of its kind in South Asia. Not only does this prevent cheating, it allows the Board to provide meaningful feedback on performance to schools, student-by-student and question-by-question. Today, the Board is recognised as a role model, and has assisted government examination boards in upgrading the skills of their staff and their practices.

The Aga Khan University’s Examination Board trains more than 1,000 teachers every year. Over 30,000 students have graduated from Board-affiliated schools in the last 10 years.

AKU Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates and trainee interns during a simulation session by Rapid Response Team, Centre for Innovation in Medical Education, Karachi, Pakistan.

AKDN / Kohi Marri

Medical And Nursing Education

AKU has been ranked amongst the top 100 universities in the world in public health and clinical medicine by Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. Its Medical College offers the MBBS degree (the equivalent of the North American MD); approximately 60 residency and fellowship programmes; three master’s degree programmes; and a PhD in health sciences.

The MBBS curriculum prepares graduates to effectively promote health in challenging contexts, and places special emphasis on primary care and public health. Students are required to participate in clinics in low-income areas and to conduct research on the health issues facing disadvantaged communities in Karachi. Many AKU graduates have gone on to study, work and teach at the finest healthcare institutions and universities in the world. Many have also remained in or returned to Pakistan, to which they bring, as one distinguished alumni wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine, “ambitions to set new standards for clinical practice, education and research, and to influence academic medicine, health policy and public health”.

AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has been a national leader for more than 30 years and has played a key role in improving the reputation and practice of the nursing profession. It was the first nursing school in Pakistan to be affiliated with a university, and the first to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Post-RM Bachelor of Science in Midwifery and a PhD in Nursing. The School’s impact on the development of nursing in Pakistan has been remarkable. Its curriculum has served as a template for the national nursing curriculum and its focus on community health has inspired other schools to follow its example.

Teacher Education

In Pakistan, more than 36,000 educators have been trained by AKU’s Institute for Educational Development (IED). They are transforming classroom instruction and school management, replacing traditional methods of rote learning with a student-centred approach that builds problem-solving skills and encourages independent thinking.

Established in 1993, IED is a national resource, and its impact on policy and practice has been significant and widely acknowledged. Numerous provincial and national education policies, plans and reforms bear the Institute’s imprint.

IED has repeatedly partnered with the federal and provincial governments to improve teaching and learning in public schools and support policy development. A significant number of IED alumni serve at senior levels in government institutions, NGOs and school systems.

IED has:

  • conducted large-scale interventions to improve teaching and learning in government schools in underprivileged and remote areas of Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan, with the support of UNESCO, AKF and the development agencies of Canada, Australia and Korea;

  • helped develop Sindh’s curriculum for children ages three to five and trained 1,600 teachers to deliver it;

  • actively engaged in writing Sindh’s non-formal basic education policy;

  • worked extensively with the government in Gilgit-Baltistan to develop its educational policy; and

  • won the competitive bid to review Pakistan’s first-ever single national curriculum and develop its teacher education modules.

An independent, external review of the Institute’s first 15 years found that “IED represents a unique, effective, sustainable and dynamic contribution to education reform for developing countries”. The review’s authors also stated that teaching, research and service “have never, in our experience in the developing world, been so strategically developed and extensive as at IED".

To date, IED has granted more than 1,500 PhDs, master’s degrees and advanced diplomas. More than half of all diploma and degree recipients are women.