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AIOU Sahiwal Head Targets Out-of-School Children, Plans Modern Campus

In an Exclusive Interview, Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon Shares Insights on Enrollment, Community Engagement, and Future Plans for Academic Excellence

Established in 1988, Allama Iqbal Open University Regional Center Sahiwal covers seven tehsils and three districts, serving as a pivotal educational hub in South Punjab. Situated amidst historical landmarks like Baba Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakar’s monument and the Harrapa archaeological site, the center provides essential educational resources and modern facilities. Led by Regional Director Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon, the center prioritizes academic excellence and student welfare, with over 22,000 students benefiting from its programs and services.

Embarking on his professional journey in December 2019, Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon joined Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU). Initially stationed in Bahawalnagar, a newly established region at the time, he later transitioned to his new role on November 10, 2023, taking charge of the Sahiwal region. Prior to this, he gained valuable experience in various professional departments, including the Literacy and Non-Formal Education sectors.

Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon, while having conversation with this scribe said that the persistent challenge of out-of-school children in Pakistan, citing factors such as limited access to educational institutions, financial constraints, and the need for rural children to contribute to their families’ livelihoods. Recognizing these hurdles, AIOU provides a non-formal educational setup tailored to marginalized communities’ needs.

Addressing enrollment concerns, Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon highlighted the higher enrollment ratio of girls at the primary level in rural areas, reflecting strong interest from girls and their families in education. However, post-matriculation, financial constraints and societal norms often hinder girls’ educational progression. To tackle this, Dr. Noon and his regional team actively engage with influential figures in rural communities to encourage enrollment, resulting in significant success in increasing enrollments.

Utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon initiated live sessions to directly engage with students, addressing their queries and concerns. Additionally, the AIOU regional office in Sahiwal leverages local tutors to disseminate information and support students, utilizing platforms like WhatsApp for seamless communication and assistance with assignments.

AIOU’s commitment to inclusivity is evident through its provision of scholarships to deserving students, including orphans and transgender individuals. Strong community ties have been integral to AIOU’s success since its inception, with continuous innovation and expansion to meet evolving societal needs, he maintained.

He further added that plans are underway to inaugurate a modern building in Sahiwal, offering face-to-face classes for science subjects. Additionally, Dr. Malik Ahmer Zulfiqar Noon explores the possibility of establishing an FM station in a regional office in Punjab to enhance community engagement.

In the global rankings released by Times Magazine, AIOU secured the 25th position internationally and first domestically for its commitment to quality education. Looking ahead, AIOU remains dedicated to empowering individuals, including working women and housewives, to pursue education alongside their other responsibilities, fostering a more educated and inclusive society.

Zulfiqar recounts his endeavors to facilitate students in accessing all necessary information from the AIOU office, highlighting the previous dissatisfaction with email responses. In the past month alone, we diligently addressed approximately 1400 emails. These concerted efforts have yielded a significant outcome: students no longer find it necessary to physically visit our regional office for queries. Zulfiqar asserts that this transition to digitalization truly embodies the essence of a distance learning system.

Under the guidance of our esteemed Vice Chancellor, Dr. Nasir Mehmood, and the Director-General of Regional Services, Dr. Nalik Tauqer Ahmed, we are on the verge of inaugurating our cutting-edge Sahiwal regional office. Spanning across 2 acres, our newly constructed building stands as a testament to our commitment to excellence in education. With this development, our students will take pride in visiting their educational institution.

As the youngest regional head in the Sahiwal region, I am deeply committed to enhancing the experience of our students. My passion drives me to go above and beyond in ensuring their needs are met. I am dedicated to boosting enrollments and addressing all student grievances with utmost diligence.

This year marks a significant milestone as Allama Iqbal University celebrates its golden jubilee. It fills me with immense pride to be a part of this esteemed institution and to contribute to the advancement of our nation through education.

Saddia Mazhar

Saddia Mazhar, an accomplished Investigative Journalist hailing from District Sahiwal, Punjab, possesses a fervor for unveiling impactful narratives. With a demonstrated history of hosting radio shows, web TV programs, contributing to esteemed publications, and steering digital media platforms, she stands as a notable figure in the field. Connect with her on Twitter @SaddiaMazhar. She can be contacted at
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