The United States government will launch a second phase of its Merit Needs Program which will benefit 3,000 deserving but financially constrained Pakistani students. This was shared by Gregory Gottlieb, Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Pakistan in a meeting with 29 vice chancellors of partner universities and Professor Mukhtar Ahmad, Executive Director, Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan.
A total of 1,807 scholarships were awarded in Phase-I of the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program to financially needy students and more than 1,350 of them have obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees. The scholarship program also encouraged other donors to award scholarships at participating institutions resulting in a more than doubling of the number of students enrolled since 2004. Based on the successes of the program, needs based scholarships have increased from two to more than 70 public and private universities since 2004.
“I am pleased to announce that the U.S. government through USAID has decided to expand the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program through HEC by providing an additional $23.1 million to benefit 3,000 more young and talented Pakistanis,” said Gregory Gottlieb, Mission Director, USAID. “Eighteen additional universities have also been included and new disciplines of study will allow Pakistani youth to obtain careers in the job market,” he added.
Professor Mukhtar Ahmad, Executive Director, HEC thanked the United States for its continued support of Pakistan’s education sector and noted that students are selected for the scholarships based on financial need, after fulfilling university admission requirements. He added that fifty percent of the scholarships are designated for female students in the expanded program.
The Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program is part of the comprehensive U.S. education assistance program in Pakistan, which includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools; establishing centers for advanced studies at three Pakistani universities to focus on applied research in energy, agriculture and water; expanding English skills for more than 5,000 low-income students; and creating accredited degree programs in education at 90 teachers’ colleges and universities across Pakistan.