Early Childhood Development (ECD) has been a key focus of AKDN for several decades

Aga Khan Education Services

The Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) manages eight pre-primary sections as part of traditional K-12 schools and 19 standalone preschools in the rural, peri-urban and urban areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Parenting Enrichment Programmes

In addition to pre-primary education, we offer parenting enrichment programmes, such as the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Reading for Children programme, which supports ongoing access to quality children’s books and promotes reading as a culture in school and at home with parents/caregivers and other family members. This programme encourages parents to engage their children in books and reading in ways that are mutually fulfilling.

Child-Initiated Learning

In 2001 AKES developed the Shishu Pahel Padhati (child-initiated learning) methodology, which underpins all curriculum activities and is aligned to the internationally recognised HighScope preschool curriculum. This methodology has been implemented and scaled up as part of other AKDN programmes in the country, notably in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. It is now also being used by AKDN as part of a Government Anganwadis (childcare centres) quality improvement programme in Gujarat.

AKES encourages parents, teachers and community members to work together for children in their communities and ensures a holistic, developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant learning environment for young children. AKES focuses on continuous quality improvement in line with global best practices to ensure that programmes provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for children, while meeting their developmental needs.

Supporting the Early Childhood Community

Continuous professional development and cross-country collaborative work is a hallmark of professional learning for our pre-primary teachers. Teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their peers within and across states to share knowledge, develop their practice and co-create curriculum content based on learning outcomes at each grade level.

AKES extends its support to the broader early childhood community as a core group member for ECD of the Women and Child Welfare Ministry of Gujarat. As a collective, they support staff and leadership of Government Anganwadis. AKES has been providing training and mentoring support to staff and supervisors to improve care, education and learning outcomes.


AKES has been ranked by EducationWorld India as one of the country’s Most Respected Early Childhood Education Brands in 2020-2021 (fifth at the national level). EducationWorld India is one of the largest and most in-depth school ratings and rankings surveyors in the country. Aga Khan preschools have also been ranked amongst the top 10 preschools across the country and have won many of EducationWorld India’s Preschool Grand Jury Awards in the areas of campus design excellence, best teaching learning resources, nature-friendly preschool, reading culture, future-ready preschool and outstanding leadership.

Aga Khan Foundation

In 2013, a 10-country study of AKF’s ECD programmes found that in most cases preschool children with one to two years of preschool education scored on average about 10 percentage points better on achievement tests than children without this experience and were much more prepared for school compared to other students entering school at the same age.

AKF strengthens the capacity of frontline health, education and social protection workers for holistic ECD and play-based learning in ECD centres. This includes supporting the government at local and national levels.

AKF promotes an understanding of the importance of ECD amongst parents, caregivers and other community members, to create demand for quality ECD services. The Foundation trains parents and caregivers on responsive caregiving, early learning and the basics of health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Special emphasis is placed on ensuring programmes reach girls and other marginalised groups. AKF also strengthens community platforms, particularly women’s groups, and builds integration with women’s economic empowerment interventions to enhance ECD outcomes.