Ministry shelves 400 PhD scholarships project

ISLAMABAD - A project of 400 foreign Ph.D. scholarships for strengthening human resource development in the Ministry of Science and Technology has been deferred again due to financial constraints, TheNation has reliably learnt. The Rs50 million project initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology for the development of sound high-tech manpower in the emerging field of science and technology but the government has slashed its funds under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) during this financial year. It was envisaged that besides a project director, staff of approximately 9 persons would be hired. The project titled 'Strengthening of HRD in the MoST & its organisations (Development of 400 PhDs)' was approved in the financial year 2008-09 but due to non-allocation of funds it could not be started. Due to non-availability of Ph.Ds and inadequate high-tech manpower in the specialised fields of science and technology organisations under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry envisaged the programme to produce 400 Ph.Ds in emerging fields of science and technology who would be driving force to uplift the industrial base of Pakistan. Moreover, 200 scientists of science and technology organisations were also to be trained for a period of 3-6 months by sending them abroad. The project was included in 10 years prospective plan under the 'Up-gradation and Strengthening of R&D Institutes' for which Rs 4.250 billion had been allocated in third National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) meeting. Presently there are 83 Ph.Ds in 11 labs of Pakistan Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) and 53 Ph.Ds in other 13 organisations of the Ministry have been working. Due to rapid superannuation of senior scientists, about 80 scientists and Ph.Ds would retire during next 3to 4 years. So the Ministry has to pay special attention and sufficient investment in this field in order to keep pace with the developed world in the area of high technology. The project is in line with the overall objectives of the sector and government's policy closely linked with other development projects under implementation for the promotion and development of industrial and engineering sector in Pakistan. This project was of great importance as high-level science and technology manpower in organisations under the Ministry is indispensable for technological development and to modernize industry, health, agriculture, energy and other social uplift. Hence availability of highly trained scientists and technologists is a pre-requisite for the absorption of present state of the art technologies, products and process required for boosting our industrial sector.

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