ISLAMABAD:06 April: Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) have agreed on a draft plan to launch open-schooling system in Pakistan for achieving millennium goals, ensuring universal education by the year 2015.
The main features of the draft plan were explained at a presentation given by COL consultant Dr Tony Dodds at the AIOU’s headquarters. The COL was created by commonwealth heads of governments to encourage development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Core funding comes from voluntary contributions from member governments in which Canada is the largest contributor. Under the proposed plan, an Institute of Open Schooling and Lifelong Learning will be established at the AIOU to impart education at primary, middle and higher secondary levels throughout Pakistan through distance and open-learning system. The system has already been successfully tested in many other countries, including the UK, India, Namibia and Tanzania, to successful overcome illiteracy. AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi, on the occasion, said that open schooling system would be a milestone in achieving the millennium goals. The plan, he said, will be implemented in consultation and cooperation of provincial governments and other federal government institutions. The AIOU was looking forward to act as facilitator and coordinator in fighting illiteracy at all levels.
He said the university had the required capacity and academic potential for developing necessary curriculum and other parameters to implement the plan in its true spirit. Mukhtar Hussain Talpur, AIOU Bureau of University Extension and Special Programmes director, said the proposed plan would provide a roadmap for upgrading literacy at all levels in the country, particularly in the far-flung and less-developed regions.
He said the AIOU would be seeking support from relevant institutions from home and abroad to achieve the desired objectives. An NGO, Plan International, has already provided Rs 18.4 million to the AIOU to promote primary and post-primary education in the country. Dr Dodds explained that through the open and distance learning millions of Pakistanis, currently outside the formal educational system, would have access to opportunities to undertake organised educational activities at pre-tertiary level which would improve the quality of their lives.
The AIOU will develop a wide-range of educational courses at post-literary pre-tertiary level and set up effective open learning structures and system for those young and adult people who are currently outside the formal and non-formal education system.
Majid Rashid, a focal person of COL in Pakistan, said that the Commonwealth would be supporting the AIOU in various sectors of education to achieve common objectives. It had already been decided to set up a branch of COL in Pakistan by June this year, he said. AIOU’s Registrar Agha Hafizullah and Dean of Social Sciences Prof Dr Abdul Hafeez also participated in the discussion and hoped that the concept of open schooling would be productive in enhancing literacy rate and providing quality education to the people at their doorstep. The AIOU will be on the forefront in achieving the millennium goals in the education sector.Daily Times.