About Allama Iqbal Open University
The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) was established in May 1974 as only the second open university in the world and first in Asia and Africa. Initially named the People’s Open University, it was renamed as Allama Iqbal Open University in 1977 on the eve of the first centenary of the national poet and philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. The idea of an "open university" was presented with the enunciation of broad principles in the Education Policy of 1972-80, in these words:
"Open Universities are being used in several countries to provide education and training to people who cannot leave their homes and jobs for full time studies. An open university will, therefore, be established to provide part-time educational facilities through correspondence courses, tutorials, seminars, workshops, laboratories, television and radio broadcasts and other mass communication media…."
The concept of distance education assumed greater relevance and acceptance in Pakistan due to the factors of poverty and relative deprivation of women. The uptake of formal education in rural areas is also relatively low in rural parts of Pakistan and literacy levels for females, particularly in the rural areas, are also lower than other areas. Many conservative parents do not allow their daughters to go out to school and the AIOU, through its system of distance education has provided educational opportunities to these girls and women.
More recently, the AIOU is hoping to fulfil another urgent national need, the provision of more affordable professional and technical education. This has become costly in Pakistan, especially in recent years, because of government policy that has encouraged the private sector in this sector. As a result, many middle and working class people have little chance of gaining access to training and education in fields such as business administration, computer science, medicine, and engineering. The AIOU is attempting to meet this challenge by keeping fees to a minimum and by creating a Student Assistance Fund.