The Aga Khan Academy Mombasa is part of an integrated network of day and residential schools being established in countries across Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East. The Academies aim to develop home-grown leaders by providing an international standard of education and strong leadership experience to talented students who are selected based on merit, regardless of socio-economic background, race, religion or culture.
Ensuring a diverse mix of students requires the Academies to expand their reach beyond traditional catchment groups for schools of similar caliber. The Aga Khan Academy has therefore established a talent identification programme to actively search for students with strong academic and leadership potential, including, in particular, students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who otherwise would not have access to high-quality secondary education. This is part of the school’s vision, to educate diverse groups of students who have the potential to become ethical leaders committed to bringing about positive change in their communities and countries. (The school has also offers 90-100% financial aid to other able students who do not come in through this programme) The talent identification programme identifies highly motivated students who are in the top 10% of their peer cohort in terms of intellectual ability and who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential.
The goal is to select students who are suited to the Academy and who will also contribute to the school and the surrounding community. The multifaceted, rigorous selection process identifies students who:
• are academically capable and highly self-motivated;
• may have exhibited leadership qualities through their involvement in extracurricular or community activities;
• have well developed social skills;
• demonstrate integrity and a community-oriented outlook; and
• are keen to participate fully in the life of a residential school community.
Selection is merit-based, and the Academies make a strong effort to meet the full demonstrated need of students and families who require financial assistance. The talent identification process was initiated in 2009. Students are selected from those who have completed Standard 6 in Kenyan government schools that follow the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) system of education. Students enter the Academy in the first year of the Middle Year Programme, and follow the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The Talent Identification (TID) programme has been initiated, tested and refined at the first Academy in Mombasa and is beginning to be implemented at the second Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, India. Early indicators are showing that the programme is succeeding in selecting high-caliber students. Graduating students have gained admissions and scholarships to prestigious universities around the world such as the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of California- Berkeley, NYU Abu Dhabi, Wellesley College, University of Edinburgh, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and many more.