Women Empowerment Through Distance Education in Pakistan
In a global gender gap survey of 134 countries, Pakistan is placed at 132 –down from 127 in 2008- behind Ghana and Ethiopia at 81 and122 respectively. Similarly, in tertiary education Pakistan is ranked at 99 even behind Namibia at 97. Main purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of AIOU in engendering female disparity in higher education in Pakistan. Factors affecting female access to higher education were also assessed in this study. The study was conducted in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Sargodha regions. Survey approach was considered appropriate for data collection. 1000 female students, 100 tutors, 50 parents and 25 academicians were selected randomly and data collected through a questionnaire were analyzed through SPSS XVI. The reports of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan, Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of Pakistan (GoP), World Bank, UNDP, UNESCO and World Economic Forum were also analyzed. The collected data were analyzed through quantitative and qualitative approaches as well. // The study revealed that after the inception of HEC there was significant growth in higher education enrolment which approached to 316278 in 2008 from 135123 in 2002 with 168% increase and 17.9% average annual growth rate (excluding Distance Education). Out of 316278 male students were 170252 (53.83%) while 146026 (46.17%) were female students. Interestingly, 1170379 was student enrolment only in AIOU in 2011 with 508423 (43.44%) male and 661956 (56.56%) female students that was more than total students of all Pakistani universities. It was found that AIOU alone has provided access to more students than all of the Pakistani universities. Similarly, AIOU has demoted female disparity by enrolling more female students than male learners. AIOU is playing discriminative role in promoting access and engendering female disparity in higher education in Pakistan. Further, regarding female access to higher education, poverty, restricted culture, insecurity, marriage, unimportance of education, negative attitude of parents and unawareness about distance education system were found major problems. Hence, an incentive package for female students may be launched countrywide especially for culturally restricted female learners of remote areas. Appointment of female tutors may be encouraged. A media campaign for awareness and importance of distance and lifelong education may be launched through electronic and the print media. // Paper ID: 290
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