Scholarships reward promising Pakistani teachers

By Jennifer Brookland

May 27, 2014

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Scholarship winners in Punjab province were chosen from eight teacher training institutes and universities. Photo by USAID.

Eighty-four talented teachers-in-training from Punjab province received recognition and $2,000 scholarships from the Pakistan Reading Project as one piece of a national effort to improve literacy. They are pursuing their four-year bachelors’ degrees in education at eight universities across the region.

“We are delighted to see such bright students from Punjab who have dedicated themselves to a life of learning and service,” said Muhammad Tariq Khan, Senior Education Advisor for USAID, at the April 24 ceremony. “It is your hard work, devotion to quality, dedication of your teachers, and the vision of the Government of the Punjab, which is responsible for this notable achievement.”

Scholarship recipients were chosen based on merit, and to ensure equitable access across the region, teacher training institutes were given an enrollment-based allotment for the number of winners each could choose. The event recognized the recipients and brought together educational leaders from across the province as well as professors, faculty and students from area colleges.

The awards are a small but exciting part of the Pakistan Reading Project, its Chief of Party John Shumaker told a local news source.

The $165-million project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and primarily implemented by the International Rescue Committee, with assistance from Creative Associates International and other local and international organizations.

The five-year initiative incorporates teacher education, policy reforms and community engagement in an effort to promote a national culture of literacy and boost the reading level of 4 million primary school children.

It supports Pakistan’s Department of Education and Higher Education Commission, collaborating with 28 universities and 116 elementary teachers’ colleges throughout the country to develop customized educational programs based on regional and provincial priorities.

Ultimately, the project will strengthen educational systems throughout Pakistan while reforming policies that support teaching and learning, and building better management systems for teacher education programs.

It is also working with the Pakistani government to build or rehabilitate more than 850 schools, establish centers for advanced education studies at four universities and improve more than 5,000 low-income students’ English skills.

Many more teacher hopefuls stand to benefit in the years ahead. The project plans to award more than 4,700 additional scholarships for university students to pursue education. Future scholarships will be awarded based on need as well as merit.