As many as 262 undergraduate students from Pakistani universities were awarded scholarships under HEC-USAID Scholarship Programme that awards grants on merit and needs basis during a ceremony held at the Commission Secretariat on Thursday.
The ceremony was attended by HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Paul W Jones, HEC Executive Director Lt Gen (Retd) Muhammad Asghar and a large number of students and the programme alumni.
The scholarship recipients are the latest cohort to benefit from this programme, which was started in 2004. So far more than 5,300 talented youth from financially disadvantaged families across Pakistan have received these scholarships. The grant covers student housing, textbooks, stipend and tuition.
The scholarship recipients come from different provinces and areas of Pakistan including Gilgit, Sindh, Balochistan, South Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They will attend 16 different institutions pursuing degrees in agriculture, business, engineering, and social sciences.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Tariq Banuri congratulated the scholarship recipients. He said the real resource of Pakistan is its people. “Investing in our people will help the country overcome its socio-economic challenges.”
The chairman said HEC-USAID partnership was not merely an academic collaboration, as development of higher education sector was part of agenda of collaboration between the two sides. He said that in addition to this programme, both the countries had developed extensive collaborations over the years.
He said that Pakistani youth have tremendous talent which needed to be tapped. “The Government of Pakistan is committed to increasing access and quality of education, and the development of higher education sector is one of the highest priorities of the government.”
Ambassador Jones said young people of Pakistan represented Pakistan’s future. “Unfortunately, fewer than 10 percent of them currently pursue higher education. Our partnership with the Higher Education Commission was forged by the idea that we should help open doors and opportunities to as many promising students as possible. Every bright and curious young person should be able to attend university and develop his or her full potential.”
He hoped that the scholarships would enable students to play an effective role in addressing various challenges facing the country. He said the scholarship recipients and alumni had inspiring stories as they were following their dreams making them come true.
Alumnus Sahira Machid said, “I cannot express how it feels to stand here today and share my experiences with this audience. Without support from HEC and the USAID, I would not have been able to complete my studies with distinction from a top business school of Pakistan.” Similarly, alumnus Abdul Rasheed urged the students not to be scared of hardships and work hard to pursue their academic goals.