Islamabad: France and Pakistan have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) offering 200 needs based scholarships to the unprivileged Pakistani students in various subjects for promoting educational cooperation between the two countries. The MOU was signed by French Ambassador to Pakistan Martine Dorance and Higher Educational Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed in a simple ceremony here at the residence of French envoy late Friday. The scholarships would be available from next year.
The French ambassador, in her remarks on the occasion, said the MoU would further cement bridges between the two people. Higher ducation was one of the pillars of Pak French cooperation and the MOU, signed today, would give scholarships to those students, who did not have sufficient means, to continue their education.
Later, the envoy hosted the annual dinner in honour of Pakistan France Alumni Network (PFAN). In her remarks on the occasion, she said 500 students from Pakistan were already in France to pursue their studies in different subjects in French educational institutions. France, she said, was the world’s third destination for international students and it would like to have more students from Pakistan.
A delegation of Pakistani educationists led by HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed visited France early this year, which was quite fruitful and after exchange of views it was decided then to further increase partnership between the two countries, she said.
Pakistani universities, she said, had also agreed to introduce new programmes in that regard and would open up information centers in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar to let students know of the available opportunities in French institutions.
The French envoy said members of the PFAN were Pakistan’s ambassadors in France whenever they were visiting there. Similarly, they were French ambassadors while working in Pakistan. “You are the bridge between the two countries,” she added.
“We want to forge long lasting relations between France and Pakistan. We wish you will return to France as businessmen and as investors,” she said while referring to PFAN members. She thanked the HEC chairman for his efforts in promoting Pak French cooperation in the field of education. The envoy said after a very successful Pakistan Day in France in June this year, it was decided to organize a French Day in Pakistan next year.
Speaking on the occasion, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar heaped praise on the French envoy, saying she infused a new impetus into Pak French relations hence ties between the two countries were growing. He said a conference on archaeology would be organized in Lahore next year and another moot on Gandhara Art was being planned in France in 2018, which would help enhance cultural cooperation between the two sides.
He said Pakistani universities would set up Knowledge Parks in different campuses to promote cooperation between the two countries. All the work had been done to set up an advanced study in climate and the French government had shown interest to be a partner in that regard, he added.
The dinner was attended by Secretary Science and Technology Fazal Abbas and members of the PFAN and vice chancellors of various universities. PFAN President Dr Khalid Saleem, in his remarks on the occasion, expressed his gratitude to the French envoy for hosting a dinner for PFAN members and assured her it would continue to work for strengthening links between Islamabad and Paris.