Islamabad -

President Zardari urged the federal government to consider providing sustained financial assistance to Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) for implementation of its "Open Schooling System" initiative that will ensure provision of Primary to Middle level basic education to the people across the country, through distance learning system.

The federal government should also consider making the AIOU a major beneficiary of basic education grants through Economic Division and the Foreign Office, he said while inaugurating the Open-schooling initiative.

According to the AIOU's press release issued here Tuesday, the President congratulated the AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Nazir Ahmed Sangi and all those associated with the institution for making it an internationally recognized institution. The President noted, the skills based education model introduced by the university had gained great acceptability among the masses, while adding that the new AIOU initiative was very promising.

The AIOU had a long history of catering to the educational needs of illiterates, semi-literates and out of school dropout segments of the society. The University since its establishment in 1974 had designed, developed and pilot tested a number of grass root level educational programmes for functional, basic, middle and secondary level learners, especially for female learners in the rural areas.

Under its recently launched projects "Girl Power Programme (Pakistan)" and "Building Skills for Life Project" the AIOU would provide middle education to about 8,400 primary pass dropout girls and young women in Vehari and Chakwal districts and 600 girls in Thatta, Sindh respectively.

The open schooling initiative would be launched in selected districts in all four provinces of the country to provide basic, middle and secondary level education to women, girls, youngsters and adult men.

The open schooling system had been successfully implemented in various countries including India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Cameron and others.  Open Schooling Directorate will be set up to enhance its organizational delivery capacity and better quality control. The AIOU pilot project with 10,000 students has been successful and the University is now planning for 50,000 students during the next year. 

Scheme of studies of all the above mentioned programmes are ready. Learning materials are field tested and updated. Assessments methods are field tested and finalized. Efforts are initiated for scaling these programmes throughout the country for millions out of school / dropout students. Technology based small rural centers are also being explored under RISE (Rural Internet School Education) as future initiative.