The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has launched a programme to provide free education for transgender community of Pakistan.
This step is an attempt to improve the conditions of one of the most neglected community of the society.
AIOU is already running a number of programmes for the advancement of different disregarded and defamed groups.
AIOU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Shahid Siddiqui said that they have multiple successful programmes running for marginalised and stigmatised segments of the society. Then they decided to launch a programme for the betterment of transgender people of Pakistan. Through this programme, they hope to return their long-lost self-respect and dignity to them and make them responsible citizens of the society.
He added that 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. He recently visited the Thatta centre where the spirit of the girls was worth watching. 400 girls had cleared the examination for class 8 out of which 377 had taken admission in Matric.
Thus, the initiative for the education of transgender people comes as another step which AIOU has taken to contribute to the society. They received a positive response from the community and have already started receiving applications for the programme.
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.
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.