Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Sania Nishtar has lauded the US Agency for International Development for supporting 700 scholarships and capacity building in women universities to promote higher education for girls in Pakistan.
She was speaking as chief guest of HEC-USAID Scholarship event jointly hosted by Higher Education Commission (HEC) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) at the HEC Secretariat on Thursday.
The USAID and HEC, under the umbrella of Merit and Needs based Scholarship Program (MNBSP), have rolled out 700 new graduate level scholarships for women, talent hunt program for financially disadvantaged girls, and capacity building plan to support financial aid systems of forty Pakistani public sector universities.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sania Nishtar said that a country cannot thrive when half of its population is not educated and enabled to fulfil their potentials.
Therefore, at its core, Ehsaas aims to empower 10 million poorest women in Pakistan and help them to achieve their potential.
She said that providing financial access to education for the underprivileged populations, Ehsaas is running need cum merit based Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship programme nationwide offering 200,000 scholarships worth Rs. 24 Billion over 4 years. To-date, over 142,000 scholarships have awarded under Ehsaas within two years.
The Ehsaas Scholarship reserves 50 percent of its places for women. By covering 100% of the tuition fees and providing additional stipend for essential living expenses, Ehsaas provides even playing field for all students, she added.
The SAPM further stated, “I strongly believe, that Ehsaas Scholarships in turn, will translate into more women in the professional job market, breaking down barriers, ensuring their increased participation in society and business and enhancing women’s overall economic empowerment.
With Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship programme dovetailed to Ehsaas School Stipends nationwide, the unprecedented scale of Ehsaas assistance allows Pakistan, for the first time, to look holistically at measures to improve education at all ages from pre-school to under-graduate and everything in between.”
USAID has supported scholarships for meritorious but financially disadvantaged students since 2004 through the MNBSP program to assist the Higher Education Commission Government of Pakistan’s efforts to raise enrollment in Pakistani universities and meet international standard.