AIOU declares Matric education free for Balochistan, FATA students

ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) will impart matric education free of cost to the students of Baluchistan and Federally administrated Tribal area (FATA) from the next semester (spring 2018). This is first-time in the history of AIOU that free education at the secondary-level has been made available for marginalized or less-developed areas of the country.

The announcement to this effect was made by AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui while addressing the National Conference on English :anguage and Literature that concluded here after adopting a number of proposals to expand the knowledge-corridor of English learning.

The two-day event was organized by the University’s Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission.

The Vice Chancellor said the AIOU being mega university in the public sector fulfilled its national responsibility, catering the educational needs of less-far-flung regions, setting aside its financial gains.

Proving free education to Balochistan and FATA’s students is meant to supplement the government’s efforts to upgrade educational facilities in the country and to bring maximum number of the people in the educational net, he added.

He said the university was already providing free education to neglected sections of the society that included disabled persons, prisoners, drop-out girls and transgender group. Now they were going to take care of economically less-privileged areas of the country, by making the Matric education free for the students of Balochistan and FATA, in the first –phase.

They had already waived off tuition fee for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the tribal areas, in wake of counter-terrorism operation, undertaken by the Pakistan Army, he added.

Dr Siddiqui said the university was also providing scholarships to the deserving students to ensure that nobody should be left without education because of financial constraints.

To ease the access to education for all segments of society, Accessibility Centers were especially set up at their 44 regional offices for visually impaired students, he added.

He apprised the participants of the academic achievements during the last three years, since he took over the charge as vice chancellor.

He said promotion of research cultural in the country had been their main focus. During a short-span of time, they published 14 research journals and held 24 national and international conferences to disseminate the research finding to its end users.

He said in its educational pursuit, the AIOU designed and offered 26 brand new academic programmes that covered various disciplines relating to the society’s basic needs. In order to expand the academic network, three new departments were created relating to the subjects of politics and international relations, psychology and translation of study material.

In the recent years, qualitative improvement was brought about in the entire academic and administrative system. Admission and examination process as well as books’ delivery mechanism were improved through smart use of new technology, he added.

As per their set targets, the Vc said 80 per cent work of revising text books had been completed. Students’ support system was brought on strong-footing. They had also fulfilled their target of professional development. Employees were trained in order to provide best possible services to their 1.3 million students across the country.

Meanwhile, the conference’s participants during the working sessions discussed pedagogical issues relating to English and literature and suggested ways and means to make its learning more broad-based and efficient so as to meet the educational requirements of the modern-day era.