CALIFORNIA, United States: Pakistan and the United States are expanding cooperation in the education sector and reconstitution of working group on education under Pak-US Strategic Dialogue has provided an important mechanism for an extensive engagement in this field, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Fulbright seminar at the University of California, the Ambassador said the two countries intend to double joint fund for joint research grants under the US-Pakistan Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement.
The Ambassador said that President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the meeting in October expressed their mutual desire to expand bilateral ties in areas including education, science and technology and there have been several initiatives since to facilitate an already extensive US-Pakistan cooperation.
“The reinstitution of the Education, Science, and Technology Working Group, under the aegis of Pak-US Strategic Dialogue in June 2015 has provided an important mechanism that would facilitate the already extensive U.S.-Pakistan cooperation,” he added.
Pakistan and the United States in February this year signed an MoU in which Pakistan will fund up to 125 additional Pakistani PhD scholars from Pakistan to study in the United States through the Fulbright program over five years.
“We intends to train 10,000 PhDs by 2025 at US universities,” the ambassador said, adding that 23 existing partnerships between US and Pakistani universities were making critical contributions to cultural and intellectual exchange.
The ambassador said that the Fulbright program was promoting mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the people of United States through educational and cultural exchange.
“The fact that Pakistan has the largest Fulbright Foreign Student Program in the world signifies the importance both countries attach to higher education in Pakistan. It demonstrates the long-term commitment both countries to nurture and reinforce their ongoing partnership,” he added.
The Let Girls Learn (LGL) is a new initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Maryam Safdar in October 2015 during the visit of the Prime Minister to Washington. The United States has committed an initial funding of $ 70 million to LGL programs.
Ambassador Jilani said that Pakistan’s current government believes that national development is the natural sequel to a literate society. He said the Government being fully cognizant of these facts is working on a two-pronged strategy: promotion of education at all levels and socio-economic development.
“The Government is laying special emphasis on increasing literacy rate and providing more employment opportunities to the youth. The demographic dividend, that our youth presents, is poised to let us take off and take off well,” he added.
Pakistan Vision 2025 aims at substantial expansion in levels of education as well as improvements in the quality of education. It commits to increase public expenditure on education to reach 4% of GDP from current 2 % by 2018, the ambassador said.
The ambassador said the private sector, though being a late entrant in particularly tertiary education, is sharing the responsibility of the Government. This synergy has increased university enrollment from 100,000 to around 1200,000 over last two decades.