US-Pakistan effort to elevate the higher education sector

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DNA

ISLAMABAD, NOV 30: United States Ambassador Donald Blome joined officials from the University of Utah and the Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, to inaugurate the International Summit on Higher Education and Workforce Development today.

The summit was organized by the U.S.-funded Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) and focuses on the role of higher education in the 21st century, highlighting the fluid nature of learning and employment, and explores how universities can reposition themselves in this ever-changing landscape.

Ambassador Donald Blome celebrated the 75 years of partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan and said, “In a country where more than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30, we must continue to help youth achieve their full potential.”

Minister Iqbal remarked that the Government of Pakistan is open to improving the higher education system and is looking into various options to capitalize on the abundant youth potential in the country.  He appreciated Pakistan’s 75-year partnership with the U.S. government and celebrated the support provided by the U.S. government to academia through specialized investment in higher education.  He further added that academic institutions and the public and private sectors should join hands to accelerate this development.  Mr. Iqbal tasked Pakistani higher education officials to improve higher education.

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), said that HEC will continue working with the U.S. government to build a cadre of experts to improve graduate employability.

Senator Keith Grover, Utah State Senator from the United States noted, “it is the ultimate goal of an institute to provide necessary skills for youth so they can positively contribute to the workforce both locally and globally.”

HESSA is supported by the United States through USAID, and is implemented in collaboration with 16 Pakistani public universities and other stakeholders, with a focus on strengthening universities’ capacity to deliver market-driven education, research, and graduate employability.