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Philanthropist and mentor Ameer Keshavjee helps students from around the world

Anar Jamal
Published October 2, 2020
Main image
Keshavjee accepting the Sovereign's Medal. Photo: Richard Harding

For over 30 years, Ameer Keshavjee has worked with and mentored over 40,000 students from many countries, including Syria, Rwanda, and Eritrea, helping them apply and be accepted to top-ranked post-secondary education programs.

In 2019, the Calgary resident was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for his voluntary service to Canadians. 

“Serving one’s own community is a duty. Everyone does it. Serving beyond one’s community is a privilege.” Keshavjee said upon receiving the award from Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor, Hon. Lois Mitchell in October 2019.  

“After all, it is part of the ethics of our faith to help all those who are in need.” 

Keshavjee also paid tribute to His Highness the Aga Khan “whose educational vision has been my inspiration to serve in this field.” Born in apartheid South Africa, the country’s educational laws deprived him of pursuing his career in medicine. This motivated him to begin one-on-one counselling to provide hope and direct students to the best educational institutions in the world. 

“There are $93-billion in dormant scholarship funds,” Keshavjee says.“Unfortunately, students do not know how to tap into these funds.” He has noticed that students read less than they used to and they often find it difficult to write a vision statement for their university applications. 

Through his one-on-one counselling, Keshavjee helps students find hope by directing them to the best educational institutions in the world. Additionally, he provides them with information on funding and scholarships.

Moving forward, Keshavjee believes educational reform is necessary. Keshavjee has written to the U.N.’s Secretary General with his ideas.

Keshavjee’s first reform would be to have free universal post-secondary education available to all who qualify. He believes anything less than an undergraduate degree will not be enough to obtain entry-level employment and a minimum standard of living. He emphasizes that what a high school education enabled a few decades ago, would now require a post-secondary diploma or a university degree. 

In addition to wanting post-secondary education to become a basic human right, Keshavjee would like to see senior high school extended from three to five years. The extra two years he proposes would be for learning technical skills that will allow  immediate entry into the workforce through a guaranteed-employment program.

He envisions a situation where the corporate sector is involved in developing and formulating the curriculum for this employment program. The workplace will gain from human resources that are better tailored to its needs, students would incur less debt, and parents would find educating their children more affordable, he says.

“It’s a win-win situation.”

In January 2020, the Calgary Herald named Keshavjee one of the 20 most compelling Calgarians who are making a difference to the lives of others.


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