US-Pakistan Education, Science and Technology Working Group Meets in Washington
Washington, DC: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel and Pakistani Minister of Planning, Development, and Reform Ahsan Iqbal chaired the second US-Pakistan Education, Science, and Technology Working Group in Washington, DC prior to the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Ministerial.
The US-Pakistan Education, Science, and Technology Working Group provides a platform to strengthen cooperation under the “US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor,” focused on advancing academic networks, partnerships, and exchanges in higher education, science, and technology.
At the meeting, Under Secretary Stengel and Minister Iqbal signed a statement recognizing the commitment by Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission to fund scholarships for an additional 125 Pakistani PhD students in the United States through the Fulbright Program over the next five years, complementing the US investment in the Fulbright Program in Pakistan, which is the largest worldwide.
Both sides discussed how our countries’ cooperation in education, science, and technology through the “US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor” provides a lasting foundation for US-Pakistan ties and serves as an engine for long-term economic growth. They reviewed the substantial achievements since the last Working Group held in Islamabad in June 2015: doubling joint funding for collaborative science and technology research grants; launching US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in energy, water, and agriculture/food security, part of the 23 total US-Pakistan university partnerships; and the announcement of the joint Let Girls Learn initiative to expand educational opportunity for adolescent girls.
At the Working Group, Under Secretary Stengel announced the establishment of a new university partnership between the University of Massachusetts and a consortium of universities in Balochistan.
Minister Iqbal noted Pakistan’s aspiration for 10,000 Pakistanis to obtain PhDs at US universities by 2025; the two sides agreed to explore initiatives to expand educational opportunities for Pakistani students in the United States at the tertiary level. They also recognized that ongoing investments in basic and higher education, including through the Let Girls Learn Initiative, will create a well-educated workforce that will drive innovation, gender equality, and a knowledge-based economy.
The United States commended Pakistan for doubling its higher education budget since 2013, for its efforts to expand women and girls’ access to education, and for pledging to increase spending on education from two to four percent of GDP by 2018.
For additional information on the US-Pakistan Education, Science, and Technology Working Group, please visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/03/253859.htm .
Ahsan Iqbal Visits MIT, Meets Nergis Mavalvala
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, who is currently visiting the United States, met MIT’s Nergis Mavalvala, an outstanding astrophysicist of Pakistani origin who recently made headlines.
According to an official statement, he met Dr Mavalvala, Associate Department Head of Physics during his visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Thursday.
Dr Mavalvala is a member of the team that announced the scientific milestone of detecting gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesized by Albert Einstein.
Mr Iqbal congratulated the scientist on her success and discussed opportunities of collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pakistan.
He also met Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The center is responsible for entrepreneurship across all five schools at Massachusetts Institute of Technology starting with education but extending well outside the classroom with student clubs, conferences, competition, networking events, etc.
The minister presented his book and discussed ideas to promote entrepreneurship in Pakistani universities so that the country’s youth could become job creators instead of job seekers. The minister also met Prof Richard Lester, Associate Provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.
He told Prof Richard, “We are launching a campaign on Productivity, Quality and Innovation for making Pakistan a competitive economy.” Mr Iqbal also met with Pakistani students at Kennedy School, Harvard University.
“We need to have confidence in ourselves and keep a sustained effort,” he remarked.
Dr Asim Khawaja, Professor of Public Policy at Kennedy School, arranged the meeting.