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Educating the Pakistani Workforce – Scholarships and Training

The ties between China and Pakistan under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) known as the ‘ project of the century’ has drawn the attention of  investors from across the world. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as part of BRI is beginning to transform Pakistan’s infrastructure and economy as well as improve ties with China.  In turn, this will change Pakistan for the better in almost all areas be it in education, infrastructure, the economy & lifestyle of Pakistani people, etc. 

The second phase of CPEC is to be kicked in early of 2020, which is focused on industrialization, socio-economic development, agriculture modernization, and tourism promotion. 27 priority projects of social development are already being finalized under CPEC of which 17 will be launched in the first half of 2020. To bridge the supply and demand gap of technical skilled labor required for projects going ahead under CPEC, the Education sector is also one major area to be improved upon. This includes the building of universities for high-end education; the establishment of various research & development wings and technical education & training for building manpower. Mr Yao Jing, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, stated that:

“China will provide 1800 training opportunities to Pakistan, help build and upgrade 50 schools, 50 vocational training centers and 30 hospitals across Pakistan. Besides this in the coming next three years Pakistani students will also benefit 20,000 scholarships provided by China in order to strengthen their cooperative partnership in the social sector.”

The Ministry of Ports and Shipping will establish Pak-China Technical and Vocational Training Institute at Gwadar in a bid to create skilled people for the economy and maintenance of the deep-sea port.

“The institute will help fulfill technical and skilled manpower requirements of the port after the development of industrial projects including the Gwadar Port Free Zone, Export Processing Zone, and other industrial and port-related projects,” officials in the ports and shipping ministry had commented.

CPEC Consortium of Universities

The CPEC Consortium of Universities was founded in Islamabad in August 2017 and established special schools to promote business-to-business linkages between China and Pakistan. They will also assist in researching the relocation of some Chinese businesses in special planned industrial parks in Pakistan. The CPEC Consortium of Universities has vowed to enhance cooperation in the fields of business studies, science, and technology for the benefit of the societies of the two countries. 

The Ambassador for China, had said that nearly 30,000 Pakistani students are studying in China with more than 7,000 scholarships. At present, five universities in Pakistan have established Confucius Institutes, and 58 universities have joined the consortium.

Upgrading the Pakistani Education System

China is helping Pakistani students get good quality education by offering sponsored scholarships in various disciplines including applied sciences and social sciences. It is also believed by experts that CPEC has the potential to revamp the education system in Pakistan by promoting distance and e-learning in the country.

“China is spending billions of dollars in Pakistan under various projects, and the second phase of CPEC will focus on social sector projects in which the Chinese government will help Pakistan in education among other social fields. It is the need of the hour that Pakistan introduces policies to make the best use of the Chinese support in the field of e-learning,” Nazir Ahmed Sangi said.  Sangi is a former vice-chancellor of Islamabad-based distance learning University Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU).

According to local media, A memorandum of understanding has already been signed by China and Pakistan in September of 2019, under which China shall provide E-learning facilities and establish ‘Smart’ schools across Pakistan.

Sino-Pakistani cooperation in Education

Vocational training centres have been established in Balochistan under the cooperation of China and Pakistan in the field of education and about fifty professional institutes are being created in this province alone.

Yao Jing made a statement that under Sino-Pak local Cooperation saying that 16 local-to-local partnerships had been established over the past year.

Conclusion

In summary, CPEC is destined to bring huge educational benefits for the people of Pakistan. With numerous university collaborations, establishment of research think tanks, it is promoting opportunities for studying abroad not only for Pakistani students but also for Chinese students. The development of Gwadar region has increased demand for skilled people, calling for the need to produce dynamic professionals and workers in commercial and engineering disciplines by developing strong processes, linked activities, safety procedures, skills, and communication.

Thus, CPEC is a complete package for participation and development in multiple sectors for the Pakistani population and for future generations. It depends on the potential of Pakistan Government in discovering those new areas of growth, and related ministries, academia, students and all stakeholders to get maximum benefit of CPEC’s second phase.

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