Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) is a unique example of distributed education. Having adorned it with such a fantastic emblem, it is time to unveil this in-efficient low-quality monster. The article is not meant to discuss how AIOU operates or how it strives hard to remotely educate people, but to present forth my own observations, which are based on teaching for almost 5 years in various study centers of AIOU. I have been a visiting faculty member teaching information technology (IT) subjects at these centers. So I will confine myself just to the plight of IT courses at these centers.
Those readers who have some know-how of IT or of any technical field for that matter, would be well aware that quality execution of these courses require a massive effort on part of management of institute but also on faculty. But quality is the last thing you would find in AIOU study centers. In my five years+ excursions to AIOU study centers, I havent seen a single AIOU offical auditing the institute or asking students about their learning experience there or enquiring faculty members about their teaching methods. I would be really un-fair to say that I never saw any AIOU offical at Study centers, because they religiously attend any welcome, farewell, funfare party.
Throught out the academic process during the semester at study centers, there is no check and balance of AIOU. Management and Faculty are at their own. The requirement of AIOU is that a study centre should conduct two assignment and one midterm during the semester. Final exams are conducted by university at some other place by itself. Assignments and midterm are simply a farce. Assignments, though sent by university in advance, merely consists of those questions whose answers are present in the text books and students have to just copy them. One studens types it and other gleefuly copy/paste it. Even, as these courses and assignments havent altered for past several years, students manage to obtain them from their seniors. Effortless education, is what they call it. No body takes them seriously, including student, faculty and management. In order to maintain some semblance of fairness, university recommends that students should write their assignments by hand. Isnt it really quality-oriented, ground-breaking step on the behalf of AIOU?
Mid-term turns out to be a period of fun and moj-masti. Everybody tries to con everybody in some new way. Faculty tries to altogether evade it and if not possible, try to make such gem of a paper which could be solved by a 10 year old. They not only devise the exam but also beseech students to attempt it.
There is no concept of quizzes and tests. Yeah, teachers sometimes do it just for fun. Attendance remains very low throughout semester and I had have many students to whom I never saw in the class and now they are BS degree holders of AIOU. Each Semester starts bombastically and ends pathetically. It is the requirement of AIOU that the students of final semester will create a project. As research and development is alien to students there, its real sadistic entertainment to watch them doing project. They dont have a clue about programming or analysis or design. They dont know what the heck software development is all about. They also have a dummy project supervisor at study center, who usually is more bigger idoit than students. At the final project presentation, the internal supervisor along with university-designated external supervisor a.k.a external thicko makes a dressing-down show. They really beat Lahore’s theatre in this regard. The more a student gets abused, the more marks he/she gets.
In a nutshell, the AIOU’s study centers consist of business-oriented management, dis-interested faculty, ill-educated students, low resources, low fee, low pay and very remotely felt imaginary advantages.