Islamabad, February 3, 2021: The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrated the 16th anniversary of Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Programme (MNBSP), which is administered in partnership with the United States Government.
In this connection, a virtual interactive session was held with the MNBSP scholarship recipients, in which the HEC and USAID also recognised the academic and professional achievements of the programme beneficiaries.
Under the MNBSP, over 5,300 scholarships have so far been awarded to students since the inception of this programme in 2004. More than half of the scholarships have been awarded to female students. The programme also trained over 400 financial aid staff from these partner institutions.
The MNBSP awards scholarships to study agriculture, engineering, medical sciences, and social sciences. Recipients are eligible to study at 30 private and public partner universities across the country.
Addressing the participants, Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri said that the HEC's vision and resultant endeavours are aimed to boost a trained and skilled human resource and to unleash the creative potential of Pakistani youth for developing a knowledge-based economy.
"I am pleased to share that USAID has been our partner in achieving our goals. Most importantly, the programme is in consonance with the HEC's mission for provision of quality, affordable and accessible tertiary education to the youth." He hoped that the level of cooperation with USAID in higher education sector will continue. He assured the USAID that HEC will diligently continue to play its part in supporting all such future endeavours. He wished the MNBSP alumni and scholarship recipients success in their study as well as professional endeavours.
In her remarks, Mission Director USAID Julie Koenen observed that: "Individuals make healthier, more economically advantageous life choices and are more likely to engage in their communities when they have access to the quality education." She said that the partnership with HEC for the past 16 years through the flagship MNBSP has opened opportunities for financially deserving students. She mentioned that 53% scholarships are awarded to females, thus increasing confidence and employability of young people from low-income settings.
"I would also like to thank the leadership of Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, for its dedication and efforts in implementing the programme successfully for the past 16 years."
The event also contained short remarks by six scholarship recipients, who described the challenges, as well as their personal and professional achievements. The event also included discussion on several themes, including the challenges and opportunities of women's education in Pakistan, particularly in rural areas; the importance of education in women's empowerment; and the USAID's role in supporting higher education in Pakistan.