ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani chapter of COMSTECH, an institute established by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), will provide 500 fully funded scholarships to Palestinian students over the next two years, one of its spokespersons told Arab News on Wednesday.
Launched by 57 OIC member states at the platform’s Islamic Summit in Makkah in 1981, COMSTECH is the OIC’s Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
One of its main goals is to enhance member states’ capabilities in science and technology.
The scholarships were first announced on Tuesday by Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, COMSTECH coordinator general in Islamabad.
The new scholarships are separate from the Pakistani government’s annual provision of 100 scholarships. COMSTECH has launched this new program to cover research fellowships, technician training and workshop grants for all disciplines.
“These are 500 fully funded scholarships which will be given to undergraduate and postgraduate students in partnership with the Association of Private Sector Universities of Pakistan, and member institutions of the COMSTECH Consortium of Excellence,” the committee’s media advisor, Murtaza Noor, told Arab News.
He added that the initiative was supported by 24 private and 14 public sector universities in Pakistan, with work on scholarships scheduled to start by “the end of this month.”
Noor added: “It will be offered in the coming academic year, which is starting from September this year, at most of the universities.
“Each scholarship will cost around Rs1,000,000 ($13,600) on average,” he explained, adding that the amount “could go up depending on the discipline and whether the student planned to attend a private or a public university.”
Noor said COMSTECH launched the initiative to support Palestinians after years of violence and conflict had “systematically destroyed the educational and socioeconomic infrastructures of the Palestinian state.”
He added: “Higher education is our mandate, and we want to provide them modern education at the best Pakistani universities,
“We will cover (the) students’ travel, other logistics, lodgings, academics and all other expenses.”
To be eligible for the scholarships, students need to be Palestinian refugees or residents of the state of Palestine.
“For the selection, students shall meet eligibility criteria of the university for their respective discipline,” Noor said.
He explained that COMSTECH is setting up a project management unit in collaboration with universities to implement the scholarship scheme.
“We will also involve the Palestinian Embassy in Islamabad in the selection process to verify the nationality of these students,” Noor said.
Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan Ahmed Rabei expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for allowing Palestinian students to study at its institutions.
“We are grateful to Pakistan for opening its educational institutions for Palestinian students,” the envoy said.
“Our thanks go to COMSTECH for its initiative in cooperation with the government of Pakistan. This new scholarships scheme will be very beneficial for the Palestinian students.”