Contribution of Distance Learning in Promoting
Tertiary Women Education in Southern Punjab
Uzma Munawar
Muhammad Imran Rasheed
Pakistan is lacking in providing female education. This gap is fulfilled
only by distance education. Allama Iqbal Open University has been
providing education through distance and non-formal mode that covers
all the areas including remote and for-flung areas where the existence of
formal schools/colleges is impossible. The main purpose of this study
was to evaluate the role of distance learning particularly among female.
The objectives of this study were (a) to review the provision of women
education, (b) to explain the contribution of distance learning in
promoting female education, (c) to identify their problems and (d) to give
suggestions for promotion of female education at tertiary level.
Population of the study was all the female students at tertiary level. The
study was descriptive in nature and the population of study was consisted
of Students and tutors of four districts of Southern Punjab i.e.
Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan and DG Khan. In these four
districts 14573 were students whereas tutors were 485. . The sample
consisted of 728 students and 97 tutors were randomly selected. Data
collected through questionnaire was organized, tabulated, analyzed and
interpreted. After analyzing the responses of students and tutors it was
found that language used in the material was easy to understand, the
material received by the students was complete in all respect, results
were normally available on the website whereas tutors do not play the
role of counselor and library facilities were not available in most of the
study centers. The findings and conclusion of tutors states that university
tutors were informed about their appointment on time, study material
was also useful for formal students, while tutors were not paid their
PhD Scholar
Research Scholar
Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning [Vol. II, Issue II, 2016] 48
numeration on time and tutors do not give comment on students
assignments. So it was recommended that tutors should also act as
counselor, library may be made available at study centers, tutors may be
paid their numeration on time and tutors may be bound to give comments
on students’ assignments.
Keywords: Tertiary, Numeration, Population
Distance education emerged as an innovation to educate diversity of
clients throughout the world. It is an alternate mode of education for
those who had no direct access to the formal institutions. Its clients are
the deprived people in remote and backward areas of the countries as
well as personnel on job, for increasing their technical, professional and
academic proficiency. It was started as correspondence education and
gradually adopted by a number of American and British institutions as a
second mode of education. A number of European and Asian countries
introduced it to uplift their education horizontally and vertically (Race,
With the increasing means of interaction, it gained wide popularity
and great prominence by virtue of its distinctive characteristics like
flexibility in terms of learning time and space, student’s individual
learning style and pace, cost-effectiveness and diversity of instructional
techniques suitable for the learner’s needs and level. Koul, B.N. (1993,
p.21) says that “some universities specifically offered distance courses
and degrees. Having the capacity of constant modification and evolution,
it has not lessened its spell and newness because every new discovery in
the means of communication has given it a new dimension”. Today it is a
popular, effective and the fastest growing field of education.
It gained remarkable acceptance throughout the world and a number
of countries practiced it to extract its two fold benefits i.e. extending and
enhancing the range of education both horizontally and vertically. A
number of educationists discussed and defined distance education in their
own ways. The diversity in the definitions shows that this mode of
education remained in constant modification, evolution and adaptation of
latest means of communications. Following are the definitions, which
clarify the nature of distance education: Perraton, H. (1982, p.7)
expresses the term distance education as:
Contribution of Distance Learning in Promoting Tertiary Women Education 49
…an educational process in which a significant proportion of
teaching is conducted by someone in space and/or time from the
learner. In practice, distance teaching usually involves a combination
of media. The more effective programmes seem to benefit from
linking broadcasts and print with some kind of face to face study.
Moore, M.G. (1993, p.664) looks clearer about the nature of distance
education as:
Distance teaching may be defined as the family of instructional
methods in which the teaching behaviors are executed apart from the
learning behaviors, including those that in a contiguous situation would
be performed in the learners’ presence, so that the communication
between the teacher and the learner must be facilitated by print,
electronic, mechanical or other devices.
Rumble and Keegan (1982, pp.l3-14) express the main features of
distance education as under:
i. The separation of teacher and learner that distinguishes it from face
to face learning.
ii. The influence of an educational organization, which distinguishes it
from private study.
iii. The use of technical media, usually print, to unite teacher and learner
and carry the educational content of the course.
iv. The provision of two-way communications so that the student may
benefit from or even initiate dialogue, which distinguishes it from
other uses of educational technology.
v. The teaching of students as individuals and rarely in groups, with the
possibility of occasional meetings for both didactic and socialization
vi. The participation in a more industrialized form of education (based
on the view that distance teaching is characterized by division of
labor; mechanization; automation; application of organizational
principle; scientific control; objectivity of teaching behavior; mass
production; concentration and centralization).
Distance education, in contrast to traditional classroom or campus-
based education, is characterized by a clear separation in space and time
of the majority of teaching and learning activities. Kaye, T. (1989, p.6)
says that “Teaching is to a large degree mediated through various
technologies (print, audio, video, broadcasting, computers), and learning
generally takes place on an individual basis through supported
independent study in the students’ home or workplace”.
Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning [Vol. II, Issue II, 2016] 50
The refraction and dimensions of the above definitions does not
show any conflict among various schools of thoughts but extend and
enhance its scope and range in terms of methods and uses because of its
possibilities and varieties are many and fascinating. It has proved a great
boon for the providers of education who have adopted it for a variety of
reasons. Distance education is promoting education and training in
developed and developing countries. It is providing education from
primary to tertiary level and in different areas of non-formal education.
Countries like Sweden has been using distance education for decade as
supplement of formal education to children in scattered home stead
where it was not economical to establish a school (Rashid, M. 2010,
p.149). The lap of a mother is the first educational institution. So it is the
most effective source of progress, prosperity, health and taking
behavioral change in a country like Pakistan. According to Rashid, M.
(1999, p.18) the women education is very important as it covers half part
of the human society. They play a significant role in the development of
society and establishing their culture. While Jilanee, B.G. (2004, p.34)
stated that “In Pakistan, there are many educational institutions, health
services, industries, where educated women have been playing vital role
in national development programmes”.
In various education policies and plans of Pakistan (2001-05)
emphasis was given on female education but fruitful results could not be
achieved. The formal system of education could not cope with the
demand of women education. Ultimately, the government had to seek
alternative approach to formal education. In this regard, Allama Iqbal
Open University (Previously Peoples Open University) was established
in 1974 with a view to providing education to the public at large. The
university considered women education on priority basis. AIOU offered
courses from middle level to PhD level for women through its distance
learning approach. The present study is undertaken to evaluate the
women education through distance learning in Southern Punjab. Distance
education integrates the distance learning programme into strategic
plans. In this regard Keller, G. (1983, p.75) state that distance learning is
a strategic plan routed from the institution and applied to the dispersed
individual. Provision of distance education is a critical process for the
higher education institutions to implement and expand the distance
learning programmes whereas Allen, I.E. and Seaman, J. (2007, p.15)
describes that distance learning is a mean to increase students success
and attract students in the involvement of education.
Contribution of Distance Learning in Promoting Tertiary Women Education 51
Objectives of the Study
The study had the following objectives: (a) to review the provision
of women education in Southern Punjab; (b) to explain the contributions
of distance learning in promoting women education in Southern Punjab;
(c) to identify the problems involved in promoting women education in
Southern Punjab and (d) to suggest remedial means to alleviate the
problems involved in distance learning in promoting women education in
Southern Punjab.
Research Methodology
The study was descriptive in nature and analytical method of
assessment using three questionnaires as data collection instrument was
used. According to Sax, G. (1979, p.35) “a questionnaire describes
currently existing conditions so that these could be modified later on as a
research of the researcher”. To collect data of the study a survey was
made which according to Cohen, L. and Manion, L. (1985, p.34) is the
most commonly used method in educational research. In view about
nature of a survey Zinser, O. (1984, pp.168-169) stated that survey
research consists of conducting an interview in person or by phone or of
administering a questionnaire to persons, or through the mail. Population
is any group of individuals which have one or more characteristics in
common which are of interest to the researcher. The population of the
study consisted of the female students of B.A. programme of AIOU of
Southern Punjab Region enrolled in Spring /Autumn 2015 semesters.
The total female population of the students was 14573. The second
population of the study was the tutors of B.A. programme of AIOU in
Spring/Autumn 2015 semesters. The total population of tutors was 485.
The details of both the population is given in table 1.
Table 1
Population of Students and Tutors
Name of Regional
offices of AIOU
Autumn 15
Rahim yar Khan
D.G. Khan
Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning [Vol. II, Issue II, 2016] 52
Population of Regional Directors (RDs)/Deputy Regional Directors
(DRDs) given in
Table 2
Population of RDs/DRDs
Source: AIOU, Research and Evaluation Centre (2015)
A proportionate sample of the total population was randomly
selected from 14573 students of female population. Thus sample of 728
students was selected out of total female population. 728 total
populations were selected as a sample among whom 675 responded. The
detail along with percentage of three samples given below in
Table 3.3
Instrument and its Validation
Questionnaires were developed to conduct the survey which
according to Vockell, E.L. (1983, p.89) “is a device which enable the
respondent to answer questions survey of the related literature was under
taken to develop a framework for study”. The questionnaire was
discussed with the three experts of the field to validate it with respect to
content, language and format. The questionnaires for both categories
were tested through a pilot study. Fifteen students and five tutors and one
DRD of semester Spring/Autumn 2015 of B.A. programme were taken as
a sample for the pilot study. The main purpose of this tryout was to know
the draw backs, weaknesses of the questionnaires and to minimize the
possibilities of ambiguity and misconceptions. Improvement was made
in the light of feedback. The questionnaires were finalized by the
approval of supervisor.
Name of Regional Office
No. of RDs/DRDs
Rahim Yar Khan
D.G. Khan
Contribution of Distance Learning in Promoting Tertiary Women Education 53
Data Collection Procedure
The list of the students and their addresses were obtained from
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. The list of the tutors for
second questionnaire was obtained from all the Region of Bahawalpur,
Rahim Yar Khan, Multan and D.G. Khan through the courtesy of
Regional Directors. The questionnaires were sent through pre-paid mail.
Remainders were sent to get maximum sample. Personal contacts were
also made where ever possible to receive quick responses particularly
from Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Multan regions. The data from
RDs/DRDs were collected personally. The survey was conducted by the
researcher through questionnaires (Appendices, 1, 2, 3) for this purpose.
728 questionnaires for students, 97 to tutors and 9 were given to the
sample through personal contact as well as by post. Only the returns of
response from students were 675, tutors 85 and RDs and DRDs 8.
Discussion and Conclusions
The language used in the material was easy to understand. Also it is
complete in all respect. 92% respondents were agreed with this
statement. This statement is correct because Killen, R. (2007, ) state that
a lot of planning involves in structuring, organizing and sequencing, the
content of material so the learner can exposed new ideas easy way.
82 to 86% respondents agreed that system of distance education
provide the opportunity to working women learning while earning.
Female population is interested to be enrolled in AIOU and study
material have sufficient amount of work. In this regard Fergusan, R. M.
and Lopez, C (2002, p.1022) state that 1998 to 1999 AIOU offer 204
different courses nearly all subject particularly the Business
Administration and Women Education and women desire to improve
their lives. Thus the enrollment increased up to 907, 834 students
including female. Whereas in other 285 vocational institution the
enrolment was only 12,113.
In findings it was cleared that about 70-80% respondents stated that
study material written was according to self study pattern, students did
not face any difficulty while getting admission in the university, the
study material was developed according to the philosophy of distance
education and tutors in tutorial workshops were monitored by RD/DRD.
The views of Latchem, C, and Lockwood, F (2005, p.74) coincides with
the above statements. They stated that the courses were according to
Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning [Vol. II, Issue II, 2016] 54
philosophy of distance education. Thus the courses of distance education
are also increasing. They quote the examples of such subjects which are
being offered in distance education up to postgraduate level are as per
philosophy of distance education, Communication technology at distance
education and many other subjects which linked to distance education.
Whereas only 61.18% respondents agreed that study material arose the
interest of students towards their study.
The findings highlighted by tutors indicates that 70-76%respondents
agreed that university informed tutors about their appointment well in
time, study material received on time, students like study material and
consider it interesting, study material was divided into sections and thus
easy to understand. Xie, A. and Huang, X. (2012, p.176) emphasis that
learning material can be made easy by dividing it into sections and sub-
sections. It is the age of technology and the students confused about the
information they are provided due to huge volume of learning material,
but however if the learning material is divided into different sections it
will be easy to understand under the different headings. So it is
concluded that the study material of Allama Iqbal Open University is
easy to understand.
60-68 % tutors agreed that the appointment of tutors is normally
made on merits, study material involve the students into study,
ARDs/DRDs initiate admission campaigns in their regions and help
students in their administrative difficulties. In this connection Choudry,
A. H., Ghaffar, A. A. and Hafeez, M. R. (2008) AIOU regional campuses
are made independent like UKOU campuses. In these campuses the
students support services are provided for the help and assistance of
distance learners. They also help the learners in their administrative
problems. For this purpose Open University has established a network of
regional centers.
The tutors of AIOU lies in the agreement level of only 22-39% states
that ARDs/DRDs monitors the tutorial meeting regularly, tutors are
trained enough in tutorial system of distance education, students were
punctual in attending the tutorial meeting, tutors give comments on
students assignments and students attend the study center regularly. The
responses of these statements are very low thus the findings affirm that
tutors are not trained in tutoring, they do not give comments on the
students’ assignments and students do not attend the regular tutorial
meetings whereas the RDs and DRDs do not monitor the tutorial
Findings explored from the views given by RDs/DRDs that 100%
respondents were agreed that tutors were appointed on merit, before the
Contribution of Distance Learning in Promoting Tertiary Women Education 55
beginning of each semester tutors were briefed about their courses, tutors
and students’ records were also maintained, and students were helped in
their difficulties in selecting the courses. In this regard, Safi, S and
Mehmood. T. (2011) state that tutors were appointed by the relevant
authority on merit while the students advisory council provide
counseling facilities to learners. The 75-88% respondents agreed that
study centers were allocated from each group of students well in time,
while the arrangement of examination was made with the consultation of
controller of examination.
Following are the recommendations:
1. Necessary guidance may be provided by the tutors during tutorial
2. The tutor may give comments on the students’ assignments.
3. The study material may include indication of tutorial support.
4. Tutors may play the role of counselor.
5. Seminar library may be established in the study center
6. Students should be made punctual in attending the tutorial meetings.
7. The tutors may be paid their remuneration on time.
8. RDs may provide AV Aids at study centers.
9. Study material may be sent to students on time.
Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning [Vol. II, Issue II, 2016] 56
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