The upside of US financial assistance

Published: January 2, 2016

Since October 2009, the US has provided over $1.58 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to the region. Large-scale US-funded infrastructure programmes have helped Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Fata build bridges, roads, dams and irrigation systems, directly benefiting more than 250,000 people.

Besides all this, the US government, through USAID, is funding scholarships for 50 students, who were recently selected from economically disadvantaged families in K-P and Fata to attend master’s degree programmes at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E) at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar. This centre has commenced a master’s degree programme in electrical energy system engineering for the academic year 2015-16.

The USPCAS-E UET, Peshawar is a USAID-funded initiative that brings together UET Peshawar, National University of Science and Technology and Arizona State University, USA, to find sustainable solutions to Pakistan’s energy-related challenges. In K-P, USPCAS-E is the only body to offer master’s programmes in the field of electrical energy system engineering. Established within UET Peshawar, the UPSCAS-E aims to help in resolving Pakistan’s energy crisis through applied research and development of specialised human resources. The master’s degree is a two-year programme, recognised by the Higher Education Commission.

The centre also aims to encourage and empower women engineers and researchers to actively participate in academic programmes and applied research to solve Pakistan’s energy-related problems through indigenous and relevant research. USPCAS-E Director Dr Najeebullah has said that the basic aim of this scholarship is to enhance students’ capabilities and prepare them to lead the energy sector. According to him, the scholarships funded by USAID include the university admission fee of Rs40,000, as well as a monthly stipend of Rs20,000 for every student awardee during the course of the programme. Half the scholarships are allocated to women. USPCAS-E plans to award up to 250 scholarships to talented and needy students between 2015 and 2019.

According to Dr Najeebullah, USAID is funding centres in four Pakistani universities, partnering with three American universities, to support Pakistan’s economic development by strengthening universities and encouraging applied research in the areas of energy, water, agriculture and food security.

Hopefully, the students selected for the USPCAS-E scholarship will be able to make good use of this opportunity and work hard for their own and their country’s bright future.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2016.

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