Islamic Online University (Gambia)

The Islamic Online University (IOU) is an accredited affordable online tuition-free educational institution that offers intensive online graduate, undergraduate, diploma and certificate programs in English. IOU believes that higher education should be for all and not simply a privilege for some. The University has a diverse academic and administrative staff, and it has registered students from 228 different countries in the world.

The Islamic Online University currently has seven departments; Department of Education, Department of Islamic Economics, Banking & Finance, Department of Business Administration, Department of Information Technology; Department of Psychology, Department of Islamic Studies, and the Department of Arabic Language and Linguistics.

The Islamic Online University is committed towards its civic engagement and realizes that universities should play a major role in creating a generation of individuals who are aware of their social responsibilities and would benefit their communities as responsible citizens.

Civic Engagement

1. Being a tuition-free institution

Ever since its inception, the university has been actively engaged in civic roles and responsibilities. At the time of launching of the undergraduate programs at the IOU, a key decision was taken to make the program tuition-free. Only a very modest registration fee is charged per semester, which is based on the human development index and thus varies from country to country.

2. Introducing Community Service as a Graduation Requirement

The second major decision related to civic engagement was taken in March 2013 when community service was made a mandatory requirement for graduating from the undergraduate and graduate programs at the Islamic Online University. The result of this effort could be seen at the end of the Fall 2014 semester, when IOU students completed their community service hours which came to a total of 39,769 approved hours. To obtain a BA, BEd or BSc degree, a student needs to complete a total of 216 hours of community service. Projects are selected by the students themselves. Students are required to submit a report attested by the organization where they carried out the community service work.

3. Women’s Empowerment Course

In 2013, the Islamic Online University conducted a 6-month long personal development course exclusively for women. Realizing the need for educating the women in underprivileged countries about personal development, the University raised $8,955 USD to offer over 100 scholarships to the deserving applicants.

4. English Intensive Courses for Madrasah Graduates

In 2013 the Islamic Online University in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and the General Secretariat for Islamic and Arabic Education (Amanah) launched a pilot Intensive English language course at a very nominal fee for the madrasah graduates in The Gambia to meet the immediate needs of the students, enabling them to pursue higher education. Furthermore, 100 scholarships were provided by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) to facilitate the deserving students.

5. Young Leadership Development Program

In December 2014, the Islamic Online University offered a 3-months long course for the youth completely for free. The course was open for anyone above the age of 14 years. It was based on the ATD (Association for Talent Development) standards. Over 2500 students benefited from this program. The course consisted of 2-hour sessions twice per week for 3 months. Among the topics covered in the course work were introduction to community service, launching a community project, time management, emotional intelligence, and vision and goal setting.

6. Muslim Youth Counseling for Free

Due to the burning need, lack of knowledge and widespread ignorance about mental health and psychological well-being in the Muslim communities, the Islamic Online University offers Muslim Youth Counseling Service for free. No individual is prevented from benefiting from this service regardless of his or her ethnic, financial or social background.

7. Campaign to Collect Funds to Provide Free Counseling Services

The Islamic Online University offers a counseling service with very minimal charges to cater to the needs of the communities worldwide for the wellbeing of the body and mind. Realizing the fact that everyone cannot afford to avail the service even at these minimum charges, the University ran a campaign in 2013 to collect funds to provide completely free service to the deserving people. A total of 50 people were provided free counseling service as a result of the campaign.

8. Conference to Create Awareness on Mental Health and Psychological Well-being

In May 2015, the Islamic Online University conducted its first ever online conference on psychological well-being. It was a completely free and open for all conference aired live online.

The aim of the conference was to spread awareness of psycho-social issues in the community (with a focus on Muslim communities to a certain extent as there is a burning need for it due to ignorance) and provide practical solutions for change. Various topics were covered during the 3-day conference, for example, domestic violence, self-esteem, unhealthy relationships, marital conflicts, sexual abuse, effect of trauma on children, depression, and mental disorders.