|Climbing the Ladder: A Case Study of the Women's Secondary Education Programme of Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan (IBE, 1999, 34 p.)|
The Womens Secondary Education Programme (WSEP) was started in 1986 at the Allama Iqbal Open University as a project called the Secondary School Certificate (SSC), with the funding of the Government of the Netherlands and the Womens Division of the Government of Pakistan. The intention was to cater for the needs of womens education. It provided secondary education through distance education to rural women, including those living in remote areas and low-income families. The distance education method suited these women because, by studying at home, they were able to combine their education with domestic duties. This innovative approach proved to be a viable option for women to study and obtain their Matriculation Certificate but also, by enhancing womens income-generating skills, it also had an impact. Many of the courses are of a functional nature, and include various vocational skills. The certificate awarded is on a par with those awarded by the Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education in Pakistan.
After testing in the pilot areas, the WSEP was extended to the whole of Pakistan and was made available to both rural and urban women. The personal contacts used to establish the student profile data bank have shown that this education has opened up new vistas for female students who were not able to have access to mainstream education. It has had a considerable impact on their lives: it has helped enhance their knowledge, create a positive image and self-confidence, earn respect from the community and, above all, contribute to their empowerment.
From the spring of 1999, the WESP has also been open to male students with revised course clusters. The enrolment of 13,000 speaks for itself. In addition to ensuring the accessibility of this level of education, the WESP can play an important role in contributing to the overall improvement of basic education in Pakistan.
It is an honour for the Institute of Mass Education (IME) to share this case study with educators and field practitioners world-wide. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the IME team, which has worked hard to make possible the publication of this monograph.
DR MUSSARET ANWAR SHEIKA
Director, Institute of Mass Education