The United States celebrated the continued success of programs to educate the teachers of Pakistan on Thursday in a ceremony in Gilgit, the US embassy said.


The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), awarded 115 scholarships for future educators who will study in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, including at Karakoram International University, the College of Education, and the Elementary College of Education (Women).


During the ceremony, attendees also congratulated 93 future teachers who recently completed a U.S.-funded Associates Degree in Education (ADE) program and will go classrooms equipped with new knowledge and skills.


“On behalf of the U.S government and the American people, I am thrilled to see Pakistan’s future teachers prepared to thrive in their profession with the help of this important preparation,” said Jo Lesser-Oltheten, USAID’s Education Director.


“I want to thank the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan and the Higher Education Commission for working together tirelessly to create and introduce these student-focused education degree programs.”  The ceremony was also attended by Dr. Ali Madad Sher, Minister for Education Gilgit-Baltistan and Syed Mehdi Shah, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.


The Gilgit-Baltistan scholarship program is just one part of the USAID Teacher Education Project, a $75 million U.S. initiative to educate current and future teachers throughout Pakistan.


USAID works closely with the Government of Pakistan to develop and implement innovative curricula for two recently-launched degree programs:  a four-year Bachelor of Education Degree, honors program, and a two-year Associate Degree in Education.


The USAID Teacher Education Project also provides scholarships to more than 1,900 students across Pakistan so they can benefit from these new degree programs.


Addressing the ceremony, Syed Mehdi Shah, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan said, “Teachers play a central role in the education of students, and the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has taken many bold steps to make progress in education, and in teacher education in particular.”  He thanked USAID for supporting Pakistani universities and colleges.


The USAID Teacher Education Project is one component of the comprehensive U.S. education assistance program for Pakistan, which includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools; establishing Centers for Advanced Study at three Pakistani universities to focus on applied research in energy, agriculture and water; and expanding English skills for more than 5,000 low-income students.