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ISLAMABAD: The United States through its embassy in Islamabad has joined hands with the government of Pakistan to improve and elevate the higher education sector of the country.

For this purpose, United States Ambassador Donald Blome joined officials from the University of Utah and federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal to inaugurate the International Summit on Higher Education and Workforce Development on Wednesday.

The summit was organised by the US-funded Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) and focuses on the role of higher education in the 21st century, highlighting the fluid nature of learning and employment, and exploring how universities can reposition themselves in this ever-changing landscape.

Ambassador Blome celebrated the 75 years of partnership between the US and Pakistan and said: “In a country where more than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30, we must continue to help youth achieve their full potential.”

On the occasion, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal said that the government is open to improving the higher education system and is looking into various options to capitalise on the abundant youth potential in the country.

He appreciated Pakistan’s 75-year partnership with the US government and celebrated the support provided by the US government to academia through specialised investment in higher education. He said that academic institutions and the public and private sectors should join hands to accelerate this development.

He said that 20,000 scholarships will be given to unemployed graduates.

He said the Youth Development Initiatives (YDIs) recently launched by the prime minister, will enhance skills of students across the country.

The minister also announced that under YDI, scholarships will also be awarded to the students of far-flung areas of the country.

The minister tasked Pakistani higher education officials to improve higher education.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), said that the HEC will continue working with the US government to build a cadre of experts to improve graduate employability.

Senator Keith Grover, Utah State Senator from the United States noted, “It is the ultimate goal of an institute to provide necessary skills for youth so they can positively contribute to the workforce both locally and globally.”

The HESSA is supported by the United States through USAID, and is implemented in collaboration with 16 Pakistani public universities and other stakeholders, with a focus on strengthening universities’ capacity to deliver market-driven education, research, and graduate employability.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the government of Pakistan and development partners to increase access to and improve the quality of basic and higher education.

The USAID and the government of Pakistan partner to provide quality basic education and higher education to Pakistani students. This partnership includes training teachers and school administrators, developing educational policies responsive to local needs, and increasing community involvement in schools by actively involving families and the private sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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