AIOU launches free education programme for transgender community

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ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has launched a programme to impart free education to the transgender community of Pakistan, in an attempt to ameliorate the conditions of one of the most neglected segments of the society.

Before this, AIOU is already running a number of programmes for the betterment of different marginalised and stigmatised groups.

AIOU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Shahid Siddiqui, while talking to Pakistan Today, said that “we have multiple successful programmes running for marginalised and stigmatised segments of the society. Now we have decided to launch a programme for the amelioration of transgender people of Pakistan. Through this programme, we hope to return their long-lost self-respect and dignity to them and make them responsible citizens of the society.”

He said that AIOU has maintained its policy of providing free education to physically handicapped and visually impaired students for several years from Matriculation to PhD. He added that the university has also been offering free education to jail inmates. At present there were a thousand prisoners from multiple jails who were enrolled in various disciplines in the university, he said.

According to the VC, the university also extended free education to special students and provided them with facilities such as a computerised accessibility centre in the central library which allowed visually impaired students to use the library independently.

The VC said that after a successful pilot project in the university’s main campus, these accessibility centres have been established in all 44 regional offices of the country, adding that these are available for use by any student who is interested in E-learning, irrespective of whether he or she is a student of AIOU.

In addition, the university has recently launched a programme in Chakwal, Nankana Sahib, Thatta and Kharian, with the aim of providing free education to girls who have dropped out of school for one reason or another.   “I recently visited the Thatta centre where the spirit of the girls was worth watching. 400 girls have cleared the examination for class 8 out of which 377 have now taken admission in Matric,” he added.

Thus, the initiative for the education of transgender people comes as one more step which AIOU has taken to contribute to the society.  “We have received a positive response from the community and have already started receiving applications for the programme,” the VC said.

Applicants to the programme were asked to approach the university to ensure their admission for semester autumn 2017. The last date of admission was September 28, which was later extended to October 10, to allow a maximum number of aspirants to be admitted.

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