(December 4, 2019, Islamabad): INGO ALIGHT formerly American Refugee Committee and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) on Wednesday, towards setting up two non-formal schools for juveniles and establishing a virtual teacher training academy (VTTA) inside the university’s premises in ICT.

Under the LOI, ALIGHT will establish primary, non-formal schools inside prisons in Abbottabad and Charsadda for juveniles between 6-16, as well as provide school supplies, learning material, and teachers’ salaries to the schools inside the prisons. ALIGHT is taking its online teacher training program to the next level by launching a state-of-the-art Virtual Teacher Training Academy (VTTA). VTTA will streamline teacher training, improve and increase pedagogical knowledge and management skills for educators with its low cost teacher training program.

Allama Iqbal Open University Vice Chancellor, Dr. Zia Ul-Qayyum, said ‘When we look at the canvas of AIOU, the scope of activities this university has, the activities accomplished, one always feels one can do better.’ AIOU has a presence in 52 cities in Pakistan and 1.4 million enroled students. He added, ‘Maybe we won’t see the impact of this change in our own lives but we will see significant role of these interventions towards changing our society for the better.’

ALIGHT Country Representative, Tariq Cheema, said, ‘In this day and era, where Pakistan has produced tremendous resources, we still have the world’s second highest number of out-of-school children. We must turn this into a sustainable movement so no child is out of school in the 21st century. We see this as first of many interventions we can do, and I believe there is no better partner than AIOU given their mandate and geographical infrastructure. We hope this partnership continues for years to come.’

The academy will include tailor-made content for teachers, head teachers, field managers, middle managers, officers, master trainers, and other management and teaching staff. The academy will also introduce various types of trainings such as mid-career training, senior management courses and early childhood education trainings to cater for a larger audience. The courses will be available for both non-formal and formal streams.

ALIGHT’s vision is to contribute to the quality of education services in Pakistan through provision of accessible, cost effective, institutionalized teachers training. It will develop training modules, provide dedicated staff, and provide trainings to staff of Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MOENT), among other partners. AIOU will provide accreditation/certification to participants and free access to campuses across Pakistan to ALIGHT.

Establishment of this academy will increase teachers’ accessibility towards training at a nationwide scale. The partnership will exponentially increase the number of beneficiaries through utilization of AIOU’s 49 virtual campuses that are located throughout Pakistan. Currently ALIGHT is providing courses free of cost through Oxademy Education UK’s platform.