“Holland can help Pakistan by offering various fellowship programmes to faculty and students of the Pakistani universities thereby building their capacity in horticulture, floriculture, dairy and food processing,” said Gajus Scheltema, Ambassador of Netherlands to Pakistan during his visit to the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF) in a meeting with deans and directors.
Scheltema said that Holland universities were independent and government did not interfere in any affairs of the institution adding that his embassy can act as a bridge between both institutions to frame similar programmes and collaborate with each other. He said that horticulture is the core business of the Netherlands as the country was a globally recognised flower producer and exporter. He emphasised that the entrepreneurs involved in the livestock sector should equip their young professionals with hands on training by sending them on internships with private dairy farms so as to make them competitive with the international standards and emerging trends.
Earlier, briefing the envoy, UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that out of the 140 universities in Pakistan, UAF was recognised as a comprehensive institution. Khan apprised the ambassador about an agenda of internationalisation and said that the UAF is striving to create core knowledge bridges and offering new programmes to give students more options of specialised degrees. He said that today by virtue of financial assistance mechanism of the academia, more than 23% students were receiving free education. He said that the hallmark of any university is winning competitive research projects competitions adding that UAF scientists were working on hundreds of research project worth Rs1.7 billion.
Khan said that the UAF is working with Australian agencies – Australian Government Overseas Aid Programme and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research – on numerous projects and University of Western Australia had already announced flood scholarships worth $100,000 for Pakistani students. He said that his institution was also working with Turkish Rural Development Programme on goat distribution among females of the poor and neglected families. He said that due to aggressive efforts for achieving internationalisation, the UAF’s exchange programme had touched new heights as 270 faculty members visited abroad for professional endeavours in contrast with 198 foreign visitors who participated in various workshops, seminars and conferences. He said that internship was being offered by Indonesian, Malaysian, Australian, and Thai institutions to local students, adding that Brazil was Pakistan’s emerging partner as various factors made us closer to each other for collaboration.
Participating in the meeting, Ministry of Education and Training National Talent Pool Director General Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha said that expatriates should be honoured and respected for stabilising the country during the prevailing phase of economic crisis. He said that the government greatly valued the role of high level professionals in national development and pursued considered policy to encourage their contribution in various fields. The ministry was assigned the responsibility to perform specific assignments in this regard.
He said that so far about 0.2 million highly qualified professionals were registered with the pool, adding that the government has earmarked an amount of Rs346 million to create a data bank of highly qualified people based abroad and locally. He said that national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) will be replaced with privileged Pakistani cards by giving them honour and respect as state guests. He urged the UAF faculty to get the non-resident Pakistanis registered in the National Talent Pool so as to be a part of the highly qualified data bank of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.