01 February, 2012

US initiative on Education may soften strain ties

USAID signs 7 MoUs with Pak Universities

Sana Jamal 

Islamabad - While Pakistan-United States strategic relations continue to remain strained, cooperation in the field of education continues to grow. To reaffirm the support, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed on Wednesday between seven universities of Pakistan and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The signing ceremony took place at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the presence of Vice Chancellors of the seven universities. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Karen Freeman, USAID Deputy Director for Pakistan, acknowledged that “Pakistan and the United States have enjoyed a long and productive relationship that spans more than 60 years and covers a variety of fields.. The MoU signing ceremony is yet another expression of the U.S. Government’s long- term commitment to help build a stronger, more prosperous Pakistan.” 

The $15 million construction initiative is aimed at building new faculty of Education buildings at the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University in Quetta; the Hazara University in Mansehra; the University of Education in Lahore; the University of Sindh in Hyderabad; the University of Karachi (KU) in Karachi; and the Shah Abdul Latif University in Khairpur (Sindh) and renovation of the Institute of Education and Research at the University of the Punjab. The construction contract has been awarded to CDM Constructors Inc. 

In a cheerful mood and pleasant environment, the representatives of the universities keenly discussed the educational problems while explaining their case for additional support from U.S. and appreciating Pak-U.S. collaboration in education sector. The professors compared the quality of education with quality of life, and hoped that the initiative would help in improving the teacher education. “Unfortunately, a large number of teachers in Pakistan are in teaching profession by chance and not by choice”, observed Dr. Pirzada Qasim, Vice Chancellor of KU. 

“The program will be beneficial in training the best young minds to the teaching profession and also help revise the curriculum” he said. Dr. Javaid Laghari, Chairman of the HEC appreciated the efforts to improve the quality of education across the country. T

he new facilities would support the implementation of two new degree programs, a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Education (B.Ed.) and a two-year Associate Degree in Education (ADE) designed by Pakistani scholars to increase the quality of teacher preparation at colleges and universities. Additionally, the new buildings would be used for the continuing education of practicing teachers. “The construction will take place over the next two year and the new facilities will eventually house approximately 2,000 students and 100 faculty members each year” informed Karen.