Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan Minister for Education
Dr Hasan Shoaib Murad, Chairman National Business Education Accreditation Council, Higher Education Commission
Mr. Yahya Khan, Vice President Telenor Pakistan
Deans and Directors of Business Schools
International Delegates from the United States, South Asia, Europe, and New Zealand.
It is an honor for me to join such a distinguished cadre of guests today and take part in the opening ceremony of the 3rd Deans and Directors Conference for the National Business Education Accreditation Council and Higher Education Commission. I commend the organizers of this conference, which acknowledges Page 2 of 7 the vital role of education in building future generations of entrepreneurs and business professionals.
The United States Government recognizes that strong economic growth depends on a strong educational system. This is why we are increasing access to finance, encouraging the use of new technologies and management practices, and supporting institutions of higher education.
I want to mention two of our programs in particular. University Partnerships and Academic Linkages are U.S. government initiatives that establish a link between U.S. and Pakistani academic institutions with a specific academic focus. Currently, eight projects totaling US $9 million are helping universities in Punjab to strengthen curricula and build lasting relationships with American partner institutions. The Academic Linkage between George Page 3 of 7 Mason University and the University of Management and Technology (UMT), for example, will enable 40 faculty members from UMT to participate in an intensive program on pedagogy at George Mason University in Northern Virginia.
Through a number of other exchange programs, including the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Fulbright Program, the United States is connecting professionals from our two countries and making both nations stronger. I understand that a number of alumni from these exchange programs have joined us here today as volunteers working with the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network. I would like to take a moment to thank our alumni for their good work not just today, but throughout the year.
My colleagues at the United States Agency for International Development have implemented economic growth and agriculture Page 4 of 7 programs in the past five years that have created tens of thousands of jobs, brought about significant increases in the sales of high value foods, and resulted in substantial growth in exports of new and promising agricultural commodities.
USAID supports micro, small and medium enterprises in Pakistan through nation-wide programs like the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit, through which USAID has partnered with four Pakistani banks to provide up to 6,000 businesses with access to $60 million in loans over the next seven years.
USAID’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program provides full-tuition scholarships and stipends to talented yet economically disadvantaged Pakistani youth to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degrees at 31 partner universities. USAID partners closely with the Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) to implement Page 5 of 7 this scholarship program, which supports students to pursue degrees in business, agriculture, social sciences, medical, and engineering. Through visits to schools, media campaigns and their website, HEC advertises the program to Pakistani youth nationwide, making special efforts to attract women and rural applicants for these scholarships, half of which are reserved for women.
Recognizing the crucial role that trade plays in improving both of our nations, we also work tirelessly with the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Punjab to foster business ties and expand trade opportunities. Bilateral trade between Pakistan and United States is approximately US $5 billion. American businesses operating in Pakistan have created approximately 70,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities nationwide. To further this momentum, the U.S. Department of Commerce at Page 6 of 7 our Embassy and Consulates in Lahore and Karachi employ teams of specialists charged with increasing trade between the two countries. We have a number of programs to facilitate local businesses in establishing long-term business relationships with their U.S. counterparts. I encourage you to contact us and put us to work.
I hope this conference provides all of you with the opportunity to reflect on business education in Pakistan and work together to find solutions to shared challenges. I wish you all the best for the remainder of the conference.
Thank you for your attention.