By: Pakistan Today, 1 April 2018

ISLAMABAD: A week-long Accelerated Training Program (ALP) was arranged in Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) to provide quality education to 22.6 million out-of- school children in Pakistan through an alternative learning system.

The program was jointly organised by the AIOU and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the title of ‘providing the right to education through ALP’. The concluding session of the training session was presided over by the Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui, who reiterated the University’s commitment to providing all possible support and strengthening drop-out girls’ education program.

The program was aimed at developing teaching and learning materials for out-of- school children, especially those who missed their early years of schooling or dropped out before completing the primary education cycle. It was also aimed at providing Right to Education (RTE) through the ALP. The participants of the program were briefed about customisation and development of teaching learning materials. The initiative to this effect was carried out under the formal agreement between the AIOU and JICA in collaboration with other stakeholders including the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MOFEPT) and Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD).

The program was developed to offer an alternative and accelerated Non-Formal Basic Education programs for out-of- school children. The MOFEPT has already approved primary level equivalent ALP curriculum and the same is being used to develop the Teaching and Learning Materials (Textbooks, guides for teachers etc).

This program is conducted on a fast-track basis, offering primary education certificate in 32 months. It is equivalent to primary level education program of formal education.

Subject specialists, curriculum development experts and non-formal education experts from the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), National Curriculum Council (NCC), National Book Foundation (NBF) and AIOU are involved in customising and developing the materials.

Addressing on the occasion, Dr Shahid Siddiqui said that the university is offering various educational programs to over 1.3 million learners mostly from rural areas through its 44 regional campuses operating across Pakistan. The University is investing utmost efforts to reach out to the most marginalised and those excluded from the education system. He added that the AIOU’s work with JICA to develop ALP materials will enable the AIOU and other education providers to maximise their outreach to include the excluded.

He appreciated Bureau of University Extension of Special Programs (BUESP), particularly its head Dr Tanzila Nabeel and her team for taking the University’s agenda forward. He also appreciated JICA for initiating such a useful and much needed program.

JICA’s Advancing Quality Alternative Learning (AQAL) Deputy Chief Advisor Abid Gill expressed his deep satisfaction over the progress and thanked Dr Shahid Siddiqui for his full support in materialising the collaborative partnership between JICA and AIOU that aims to serve the 22.6 million out-of- school children in Pakistan.

The program will not only provide a second chance to those who missed their first chance of education or dropped out of the education system, but also provide them with continuing education options inside the AIOU system and in other public and private formal school systems.

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