$19m US-Pak initiative launched

Islamabad : The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the government of Pakistan, launched a $19 million, five-year programme here Thursday to improve Pakistan’s higher education system and increase the employability of university graduates.

Titled ‘Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA),’ the project was launched at a high-profile event attended by USAID Mission Director Julie A. Koenen and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Tariq Banuri, among others. The project is another example of the breadth of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan as the two countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations. The programme will integrate best practices in teaching, research, governance, and sustainability to benefit 15 public universities—including five women’s universities—across Pakistan. Through this programme, universities will provide students with research opportunities, soft-skills training, and support services such as career counseling. Through collaboration with the industry, the programme will help align academic preparation with workforce needs.

Speaking on the occasion, Julie Koenen said, “USAID is proud to collaborate with HEC on this programme. HESSA will build stronger Pakistani universities that offer the education and research experiences students need to be more employable in the local market. This will prepare talented young people with the required skills to find jobs and launch their careers. It will also support the needs of industry, increase hiring and productivity, and stimulate further economic growth.”

Dr. Banuri termed HESSA as an innovative initiative expected to make notable contributions toward improving the institutional and technical capacities of its partner universities. “I am confident that the nexus of US universities with HESSA-partner higher education institutions will result in policy reforms that will benefit all universities in Pakistan,” he remarked.