RAWALPINDI - The United States is proud to have invested in higher education sector in Pakistan over the last five decades. A well-educated population is the foundation of a strong economy and a strong and growing Pakistan. The educated youth of Pakistan should become a role model for illiterate people in the society and to teach them specially the children, USAID Assistant Administrator Office of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Larry Sampler, said this at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) on Wednesday in an interactive session with the USAID funded merit and needs based scholarship programme beneficiaries to celebrate their academic achievement and discuss their progress.
On the occasion, USAID Pakistan Mission Director Gregory Gottlieb, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Executive Director Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmed and Dr Masoom Yousafzai of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, were also present.
Addressing the attendees, Larry Sampler said that the assistant being provided to education sector in Pakistan and Afghanistan was of tax money of US people and it was his duty to monitor the fair use of these funds. "We will continue to work very closely with the HEC of Pakistan to implement this very successful scholarship programme for deserving students," the USAID assistant administrator added. Larry also had a question answer session with students of the varsity.
HEC Executive Director Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed expressed his appreciation for US support for the education sector in Pakistan. He said that the US government helped Pakistan in building many key colleges and universities in Karachi, Faisalabad, Tandu Adam and Peshawar in early 80s.
He informed that a total of 3,000 talented and needy students could get scholarship under this program from getting higher education in 29 government and private universities of the country adding that 50 per cent of the scholarships were designated for women in the upcoming expansion of the project.
"USAID has running successful scholarship program since 2004 and also helped 1800 students in Pakistan in the priority areas of agriculture, energy and water" he said.
Earlier, Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad, VC, in his welcomed address said that the USAID Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program was excellent opportunity and a hope for the talented and deserving students. These scholarships were great contribution by the USAID for uplifting education standards, he added. He further said that this was an excellent opportunity for the students to complete their degree and to resolve their financial problems.
At the end, the VC presented souvenirs and shields to the chief guest USAID Assistant Administrator Office of Pakistan and Afghanistan Larry Sampler.
It is pertinent to mention here that the scholarships are part of a long-term commitment by the US to promote and facilitate academic achievement in Pakistan.
The program, which grants scholarships to business and agriculture students, is a part of USAID's merit and needs-based scholarship programme.
Since 2004, 1,350 students have earned degrees under the program. Over 450 additional students are currently receiving assistance to complete their degrees. Students are selected for scholarships based on financial need and university acceptance. PMAS-AAUR and QAU are among the 11 local partner institutions of the scholarship program.
This program also helps partner universities establish student enrolment and financial aid systems. This program includes creating accredited education degree programs at 90 teachers' colleges and universities, building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools, establishing centres for advanced study of energy, agriculture, and water at three Pakistani universities, and expanding English skills for over 5,000 low-income students.