ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has called for further enhancing the quality and outreach of Open Distance Learning (ODL) Programmes of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Islamabad and using blended learning tools to increase the enrolment of students in different academic disciplines.
During a follow-up briefing on AIOU, Islamabad, at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad on Wednesday, the president said that educating and imparting skills to students according to the market dynamics would help ensure their early employment besides helping in their career progression.
The Vice Chancellor (VC) AIOU Professor Dr Zia ul Qayyum, the Dean AIOU Professor Dr Nasir Mahmood, senior officials of AIOU, representatives of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training attended the meeting.
While addressing the meeting, the president emphasized the need to invest in the formal and ODL modes of education which were the most important platforms for providing education to the masses.
President Arif Alvi said that ODL and hybrid modes of education could be extended to the Primary and Middle school levels after coordination with the relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors.
This, he said, would help in educating the Out-of-School-Children (OOSC), who could not attend regular schools due to financial or other constraints.
The president said that Malaysia was far ahead in all forms of education than Pakistan due to heavy investment in this sector although Pakistan had helped Malaysia in setting up its institutes of higher learning.
During the meeting, the president proposed that the mosques, which normally remain vacant from Fajr to Zohr, could be used as schools and “Pesh Imams” could be trained as teachers to provide free of cost education to OOSC of the under-served areas.
The president also called upon the Ministry of Education and Professional training to play a leading role in bringing all stakeholders from the public and private sectors on one platform to devise a vision and strategy for extending educational services to hitherto neglected areas of the Country by pooling their resources.
President Arif Alvi appreciated the performance of AIOU in providing quality education to those who could not afford expensive private schools or full-time schooling.
The president further advised the University to establish its own marketing and public relations department headed by a qualified professional to market its products not only in Pakistan but to the rest of the world.
The president also urged the need to double up efforts to market and highlight the 24,000 licenses available under the Digital Learning and Skills Enrich Initiatives of HEC and COURSERA to maximize the use of this important educational resource which provided over 1000 ready-made courses in various disciplines.
Dr. Arif Alvi said that Pakistan was willing to extend ODL and virtual education facilities to the people of Afghanistan through AIOU and the Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP) whose education materials could be utilized by Afghan students, both male and female, through its television network and online means, wherever available.
The VC AIOU Professor Dr Zia-ul-Qayyum briefed the president that as per President’s directions during the previous meetings, AIOU was planning to launch a Life Long Learning Centre besides working on designing Pakistan EdTech, establishing collaboration with the Universities of Turkiye and Leicester University and establishing a Centre of Excellence in Open Distance Learning.
Professor Dr Zia-ul-Qayyum further highlighted that as per a survey conducted by AIOU, almost 70% of students enrolled in post-graduate programs were already employed and were studying to further improve their qualifications.
The VC AIOU stated that as per the survey, 40.4% of the students enrolled in the undergraduate programs were able to get part-time jobs due to enhanced qualifications.