Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Prof Ahsan Iqbal, describing higher education as one of the keys to growth and development, said the government is devoted to giving the disadvantaged class access to it. Speaking at the “International Summit on Higher Education and Workforce Development,” he said that Pakistani youth are worried about their future education as well as their livelihoods, mental health, and general well-being.
It would thus be essential for Pakistan’s general socioeconomic growth to incorporate the youth and its energies into the socioeconomic development process, he stressed. Planning ministry, he said, has also published a Mental Health Psychosocial Support Handbook. It may be noted that Pakistan’s estimated youth unemployment is between 8.5% and 10%, with 80% of the youth workforce having a low level of education and a poor skills base primarily due to gaps in quality, access, and relevance of the skills vis-à-vis what is needed in the market.
Pakistanis as a nation face key challenges as to how to equip the young population with the knowledge and skills required to support the national development agenda and priorities. If the government does not use the youth’s potential and abilities in the proper way, the minister stressed, it will be the greatest opportunity lost. According to the minister, the summit is a timely initiative given Pakistan’s development priorities because US support for Pakistan’s higher education system has a long history and has included everything from establishing centres of excellence to bolstering the country’s overall higher education system.
The summit was conducted under the auspices of the Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) Project. The HESSA project is providing technical assistance to 16 Pakistani universities across the country in improving their institutional and technical capacities in delivering market-relevant education and research, with an overarching goal of enhancing the employability potential of graduating students. It was attended by US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, Senator of Utah State, Dr Keith Grover, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, Chairperson, HEC and others.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk