Dr. Mohammad Daud Khattak
Regional Director, Allama Iqbal Open University Regional
The Allama Iqbal Open University is the 2 nd oldest Open University (Distance Learning) in the world. The
University was established in May, 1974, with main objectives of providing educational opportunities to masses
and to those who cannot leave their homes and jobs. During all these years, the University has more than fulfilled
The Allama Iqbal Open University is a unique center of learning in Pakistan because of its philosophy,
system, approach, functioning, and overall structure. The University with its main campus at Islamabad has a wide
network of 44 regional offices spread all over all the country including Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, and with its
Peshawar Regional Campus at Phase # 5, Hayatabad.
The Allama Iqbal Open University is primarily a Distance Education institution, however, also practices
face-to- face, and online educational mode from basic to doctoral level. It has opened up educational opportunities
for the working people and has provided access to females at their door steps. It has also done pioneering work in
the field of Mass Education. It is now breaking new grounds in the fields of professional, scientific, and technical
education. It is attempting to reach out to remotest areas of Pakistan like Khyber Agency, Mohmand Agency,
Kuram Agency, Chitral, Skardu, Mithi, and Umarkot. It is also attempting to harness modern Information
Technology for spreading education in Pakistan.
The idea of Distance Education was first mooted in UK in late 60s by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Harold
Wilson. He was of the view, that, educational opportunities must be provided to those who might have missed
better education due to early employment and wish to upgrade, their knowledge and skills, in their spare times or
in the evenings at home. The UK Open University was, thus established in 1969. Since then it has become a major
institution of learning in UK and has opened up opportunities for millions of working people. The gospel of distance
and Open Learning has, since then spread throughout the world. More than sixty Open Universities are operating
around the world on the basis of Distance Education. Modern Information Technology has made the task of
Distance Education much easier and effective.
The idea of Distance Education assumed greater relevance and acceptance in Pakistan due to the factors
of poverty and relative deprivation of women. The rate of literacy, incidence of dropouts, and excess to higher
education is much lower in the poor classes of Pakistan. The incidence of poverty is much higher in the rural areas,
where formal education is much less established. The rate of literacy and education is much lower for females in
Pakistan, particularly in the rural areas, due to poverty and conservative traditions. Many conservative parents
under the pressure of orthodox traditions do not allow their daughters to attend regular schools. The AIOU,
through its system of Distance Education has, thus, provided educational opportunities to these housebound girls
and women. This explains the reasons why the majority of students enrolled with the University are females.
Latterly, the University is trying to fulfill another current need. Professional and technical education in
Pakistan is becoming very costly, especially in recent years, because of government policy to encourage private
sector in these fields. The lower middle class and poor classes are being marginalized and their children have very
little chance to get high education in the fields of Business Administration, Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry,
Mathematics etc. The AIOU is attempting to meet the challenge and open a vista of learning opportunities for
them by keeping the costs at the minimum and by creating a Student Assistance Fund.
In each semester the university offers general education (Matric, Intermediate, and 14 years Bachelor), 16
years Master’s degrees in Pakistan Studies, Islamic Studies, History, Sociology, Economics, Mass Communication,
Library & Information Science, and Urdu etc., Teacher Education programs Associate Degree in Education, B. Ed,
M. Ed, M. Phil/Ph. D in a number disciplines.
The study is based on semester system. The academic year is divided into two semesters namely Spring
and Autumn. The Study period for each semester generally lasts 16-18 weeks, including examination.