FAZAL AMIN SHINWARI
ISLAMABAD: The U.S. government announced 500 new scholarships for Pakistani university students on Tuesday to “help them in completing their degrees.” These students are from flood-affected districts.
US Ambassador Donald Blome announced the scholarships at an event celebrating the achievements of female scholars in honor of International Women’s Day at the Higher Education Commission in Islamabad.
Federal Minister of Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Lieutenant General Inam Haider Malik, Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission Dr. Shaista Sohail, Director of the USAID Mission Reed Aeschliman, university vice-chancellors, students, and alumni were all present at the event.
The United States, through USAID, has supported scholarships for meritorious yet financially disadvantaged students to pursue higher education at top Pakistani universities.
The US government has given out more than 6,000 scholarships through the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission. As part of the US government’s support for women’s higher education, 60% of those scholarships have been given to women.
International Women’s Day not only serves as a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements made by our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters. It is also a call to action to accelerate gender parity and to dismantle gender stereotypes”, said Ambassador Blome.
“US government support to important sectors in Pakistan, especially the higher education sector, is noteworthy,” said HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed. These scholarships not only enabled many deserving students to attend university, pulling themselves and their families out of poverty, but they also helped Pakistan acquire essential skills and knowledge sets to power the country’s economy. Federal Minister of Planning Ahsan Iqbal said, “Pakistan has suffered from catastrophic floods where millions of people lost their homes and livelihoods.
The humanitarian response by the United States and other donors is commendable. We welcome US support for flood-affected students
.Jennifer Andleeb, a scholarship alumna, shared the challenges she faced in attaining higher education and how this scholarship transformed the trajectory of her life.
She emphasized that positive changes in society could only happen by investing in education, and that empowered, educated women are critical to ensuring a brighter future for Pakistan.