ISLAMABAD: The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) is all set to open up its full-fledged regional office in Afghanistan to promote education in the brotherly country at this much needed time, Vice Chancellor AIOU, Dr. Zia Ul-Qayyum said. The office would be set up once the university gets permission from the federal government, which is already helping the brotherly country in various fields, the VC told in an exclusive interview here. The initiative of offering helping hand to the brotherly country paced up after the recent visit of Afghan Ministry of Higher Education delegation during which the delegates had requested the varsity to help their country in promoting education, reconstructing educational infrastructure, and training Afghan teachers. He said Afghanistan was brotherly country which was facing host of problems for past four decades, adding, Pakistan always played a crucial role to support it and had to suffer a lot. The AIOU VC said the AIOU was already helping Afghan students residing in refugee camps in acquiring education from the university, adding that the visiting delegation were well aware about the operations of varsity. Zia-ul-Qayyum told APP that AIOU mode of education was very suitable for Afghanistan keeping in view topography, geography, socio-economic condition, and communication issues in the country. Likewise, keeping in view the Afghan culture for imparting education to female children, the AIOU mode of education could be more suitable and feasible, he added. “We are hopeful. If the government allows us, we are ready to spread light of education in Afghanistan,” he remarked and expressed the hope that education would not only eradicate extremism but would also help Afghans to earn respectable livelihood. He said the university possessed all required technology to reach the students across the globe, adding that the AIOU had set up international office, which had been given targets to expand outreach of the varsity in their respective countries. Currently, around 230 international students were registered with various programmes of the university, he added. He said it was university’s new dimension which would give international face to the varsity besides providing it yet another alternate sources of income. To a question about skill education, the VC said that it was basic mandate of the varsity since its establishment to provide skill-based education to the people. The university devised special courses in computer, tractor repairing, poultry, farming to provide technical training to the people. He said even the university arranged courses in tailoring and embroidery for girls in Gitgat Baltistan with private partnership. Zia Ul Qayyam said the university has planned to start a project in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to provide skilled training required in Industrial Zones along route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the people of the areas. Initially, such setup was being arranged in Rashakai and GB industrial zones, he added. He said it would be a sustainable model for the local people, adding, the university was already in process of designing a course in this regard. To a question about provision of free education to various segments of the society, he said that the university was providing free education to transgender, prisoners and martyrs’ children. Currently, around 30 transgenders were getting free education from the university, he added. He said the plan was also afoot to provide education to out-of-school children in the country. The university has been actively working on it in AJK, south Punjab and GB, he told APP adding the university has also provided training to 1200 teachers engaged in non-formal education. The VC said the automation process helped improve the financial discipline in the university.