KARACHI  -   For more than a decade, the United States Agency of International development (USAID) has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to higher education in Pakistan by launching a flagship programme of merit and needs based scholarships, in partnership with Higher Education Commission, for graduate and post graduate students to study in 30 top ranked universities in the country.

The USAID-funded Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program (MNBSP) counts over 2,400 young men and women as graduates who are now contributing to a better Pakistan and its development goals.

To celebrate the success of scholars, particularly those from Sindh, a reunion of the USAID-funded Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program, scholars was organised at the Governor’s House in Karachi.

The reunion was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Dr Tariq Banuri, Chairperson Higher Education Commission, Vice Chancellors of the universities of Sindh along with HEC-USAID scholarship beneficiaries and alumni from Sindh. Sindh Governor Imran Ismail appreciated USAID’s role in supporting higher education in Pakistan, including in Sindh province, and hoped for successful continuation of the ongoing partnership.

The governor said: “The USAID-funded scholarships enabled many brilliant students to achieve their dream of higher studies without being constrained due to financial difficulties. I see this as an excellent investment into the future of Pakistan for which we are all thankful to the USAID.”

Ismail said that the present government was fully committed to support education, in particularly higher education as reorganises its key role in socio-economic uplift of the country and in developing competitive edge knowledge for sustainable development.

Dr Tariq Banuri, Chairperson Higher Education Commission, described his perspective on the strategic partnership between US and Pakistan towards the promotion of higher education with the audience, stating: “The Higher Education Commission is closely working on various ventures of science and technology, research and scholarship programs sponsored by US government with are forefront contributions in strengthening the higher education sector in Pakistan.” He further added that the partnership between the US and Pakistan in higher education is historical “Our Fulbright Program in Pakistan is one of the largest scholarship programs. In order to support the priority areas of Pakistan by resolving priority issues of water, energy and food security, Centers for Advanced Studies have been established in Islamabad, Sindh and KPK with the investment of USAID. Our objective is to create opportunities for the talented students, faculty and researchers to generate a human resource which are productive in building Pakistan a vibrant socity and exemplary for the upcoming generation.”

Also present at the celebration were many of the former USAID-supported scholars who are now working in professional capacities. One of the female alumna commended the efforts of USAID for provision of scholarship for the female students of interior Sindh. “I cannot express how it feels to stand here today and share my experiences with the audience. I don’t think without the support of USAID’s scholarship, I would have been able to complete my studies with distinction from top business school of Pakistan.”

Vice Chancellors of the Sindh universities who were also present commended USAID for its efforts to educate their students and expressed pride and joy at seeing them at the places they are today. It is pertinent to mention that under this flagship program, so far, 1112 young students belonging to financially disadvantaged families from the province of Sindh have received financial assistance to continue their higher education.