About the Author: Rick Snelsire serves as Spokesperson at U.S. Embassy Islamabad.
As part of the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the United States and Pakistan, officials from both countries met in Islamabad on July 1, 2010, to discuss issues critical to the education sector in Pakistan. The Education Strategic Dialogue highlights the shared commitment to a long-term relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan that focuses on improving the lives of the Pakistani people and working to ensure that all have access to quality education, particularly girls.
At today's meeting, the second of the Education Working Group, participants further discussed the direction of the U.S.-Pakistani partnership recently agreed upon by Pakistani government officials and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah. The dialogue underscored the commitment of the governments of the U.S. and Pakistan to continuing support for basic education while exploring ways to increase support for technical and higher education.
The Education Strategic Dialogue was co-chaired by Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Sectors and Mr. David Barth, Director of Education, USAID. Other members of the Pakistani delegation included Federal and Provincial Education Secretaries, Dr. Javaid Laghari, Chairman, Higher Education Commission, and Dr.Sohail H. Naqvi, Executive Director, HEC. Other members of the U.S. delegation included Ms. Alina Romanowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State, and Dr. Marshall “Mike” Smith, former Deputy Secretary of Education.
The U.S. delegation also called on Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, Federal Minister of Education. The Secretary of Education, Mr. Imtiaz Kazi, presented to the delegation the National Education Policy adopted in 2009, followed by presentations by representatives from the Provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, and officials from Azad Jammu Kashmir, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Gilgit-Baltistan on educational priorities and challenges in their regions. Members of the Pakistani and American delegations discussed how to jointly support implementation of the education policy, especially at the provincial level.
During the session on higher education, the bilateral Education Working Group considered how the U.S. government can improve its support to higher education in Pakistan. Our discussions included the possibility of establishing centers of excellence at Pakistani universities and further developing U.S.-Pakistani exchanges, linkages, and scholarship programs, including the Fulbright Program.
Other sessions included discussions on the 18th Amendment and its implications for the provinces, National Achievement Standards for Teachers and Students, technical education, and the Pakistan Education Taskforce.
To ensure an on-going dialogue that fosters a continued strong partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan, the group will continue to interact over the coming months and will meet again in six months.