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Islamabad: fund-starved Higher Education Commission (HEC) gets US$45 million

By Saadia Khalid
 An amount of US$45 million by the United States has been injected to the fund-starved Higher Education Commission (HEC) that will help 28 public universities of Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa, Southern Punjab and Balochistan in budgetary shortfall and fee waiver to more than 7,000 IDP students.

During an auspicious ceremony held here on Wednesday, US Ambassador Anne W Patterson announced that the US government has disbursed $45 million (Rs3.7 billion) that include the recurring grant budgetary support of $32.5 million, budgetary shortfalls of $8.43 million, and $4.07 million for over 7,000 students from IDP families for the academic year 2009-10.

“Regrettably, Pakistan is battling extremist violence that has targeted the heart of Pakistan — its young people. Scores of schools have been damaged by terrorists, and security concerns have impeded access to schools for teachers and students, especially girls. Budget resources have unavoidably been channelled away from education to combat militancy,” Patterson said.

She said in the past years, the US provided more than $400 million for relief, reconstruction and development in areas where Pakistan is fighting against militancy to help rebuild infrastructure and support populations displaced by conflict. “It is inspiring that Pakistan’s public universities in these parts of the country continue to operate and grow. The US supports your efforts through today’s contribution of $45 million, which will allow 28 universities to waive the annual fee for 7,000 students belonging to families affected by the conflict,” she added.

Chairman HEC Dr Javaid R Laghari on the occasion highlighted the challenges being faced in the education sector and said the major issue they are currently facing is of equitable access to education for everyone. “We have the highest number of people aged between 17 and 23 years, but our tertiary and higher education is lowest as compared to other developing countries. India is 2.5 per cent ahead of us, Malaysia 20 per cent, while Egypt and Turkey are 30 per cent ahead of us,” he informed.

Executive Director HEC Dr Sohail Naqvi on the occasion gave a presentation on the goals achieved by HEC during a short span besides giving a briefing on its various ongoing projects. He highlighted the contributions of the US government towards the education sector for five decades.

On the occasion, students belonging to IDP families expressed their views regarding the grant provided by the US government that would help them continue their education without any financial burden.

An enthusiastic young man, Nauman Amman from Malakand Division, expressed his determination to contribute in the education sector of his area after completing his studies.

Source: the News, 13th May 2010

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