An IT-based Scholarship Management System of the USAID-funded Merit and Needs-based Scholarship Program (MNBSP) was launched at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Thursday. Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail, Adviser (Coordination) HEC Mr Awais Ahmad, Director General (Scholarships) HEC Ms Aayesha Ikram and USAID Director Education at the US Embassy Ms Anne Flaker along with other HEC and USAID officials attended the launching ceremony.

The Scholarship Management System is a major development in terms of automation of the day-to-day key programmatic operations of MNBSP and its monitoring reporting system for data validity, transparency and accuracy. The implementation of this system is also a key step toward assisting HEC in strengthening the reporting mechanism of the largest undergraduate scholarship project funded under Benazir Income Support Program (BISP).

USAID has been supporting scholarships for financially disadvantaged, meritorious students for the last 17 years under MNBSP to assist HEC, Government of Pakistan’s efforts to raise access of enrolment of students especially females from rural and less-developed districts to study in Engineering, Business, Social Sciences, Agriculture and Medicine degree programs in top Pakistani universities.

Dr. Shaista Sohail thanked the Director USAID for launching the expansion program under MNBSP and acknowledged that the legacy of HEC’s valuable partnership with USAID span over many years. “It is through support and investment of partners like USAID, university education for many underprivileged students became accessible and provided them a prospect to uplift themselves. The investment in IT based system will be encouraging for the universities and HEC to adopt paradigms that lead towards a transparent and sustainable system,” said the Executive Director.

On the occasion, Director General Aayesha Ikram informed the USAID officials that 91% of the USAID’s funding under the scholarship program was diverted towards the beneficiaries keeping operational budget in minimal cost whereas 60% of the scholarship awards are given to the females.

Addressing the ceremony, Anne Flaker said, “USAID profoundly supports enhancing capacities of our partners to develop sustainable systems. We are pleased that the implementation of IT-based system will be used not just for the operations of the USAID’s scholarship program, but in future, it will be utilized for other HEC scholarship programs. USAID is also thankful to HEC for its commitment to the Program objectives and taking innovative steps which will serve as model for others to follow.”

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Author

Arsalan Haider is a reporter at Academia Mag and has worked with leading national dailies and news channels. He tweets @arsalanhaider14

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