The economic corridor between China and Pakistan will have a great impact on the culture of both countries, and academia should play a positive role by preparing citizens for these changes
The role of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has great significance for the region in terms of transportation infrastructure, energy, trade, commerce, industrial cooperation, agricultural cooperation, tourism, healthcare, personal contact, education, and much more. The value of CPEC projects is now worth 62 billion US dollars. Although various scholars have presented a lot of literature, the negative and positive aspects already elaborated upon; very few presented the alternative benefits of CPEC on Pakistani academia.
There are many ongoing projects that are relevant to the educational uplifting of Pakistan. The economic corridor between China and Pakistan will have a great impact on the culture of both countries, and academia should play a positive role by preparing the citizens of these two countries for the upcoming changes.
CPEC will also help Pakistan’s education sector — various training centres are established in Gwadar and plans are underway to open universities along the route to bring China and Pakistan closer to each other. This gives Pakistani students the opportunity to study in China and encourages more teachers to work in schools in that area, and also real estate builders to build them.
Under CPEC, the youth of Pakistan has been availing scholarship opportunities in China. The Confucius Foundation will open more courses to enrol Pakistani students in various disciplines in the near future, which will be a great source of scholarship for those with financial problems. In the coming days, people will get more opportunities provided by those familiar with Chinese technologies and values. It is believed that the youth will have a better chance of improving their education with the cooperation of Chinese government in this regard.
CPEC also helps Pakistan’s education sector — various training centres have been established in Gwadar and plans are underway to open universities along the route to bring China and Pakistan closer to each other. This gives Pakistani students the opportunity to study in China and encourages more teachers to work in schools in that area
Chinese envoy Sun Weidong, addressed a scholarship awarding ceremony in a local hotel in Islamabad. He said, under CPEC, 220 more students will get an admission in various disciplines of the top Chinese universities for the academic year. Students will be taught many disciplines, which will encourage them to secure admissions in Master, MPhil and PhD programmes in China.
Under this project, talented youth may be awarded an admission in technology, computer sciences, engineering, international relations, journalism, agricultural and natural sciences etc. The Ministry of Education in China supports Chinese universities in allocating special funds to all students coming from abroad including Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning here that there are total of 15,625 students enrolled in various universities of China out of them 2,700 students are being funded by the Chinese government’s scholarship programme and over a thousand students are enrolled on other scholarships given by the universities. Under a separate scholarship programme, Chinese universities are offering scholarships to the underprivileged youth of Pakistan as well.
There are some achievements in the education sector by Pakistan also; two new universities are scheduled to be setup in Balochistan under CPEC. There are a number of Pakistani youngsters who are already enrolled in China and 131 students have gotten scholarship opportunities through CPEC this year. By enrolling under CPEC, Pakistan will be known as the largest scholarship winning country by the Chinese government in South Asia following the Vision of 2025.
Few recommendations for CPEC as academia are mentioned here:
In the current project within the framework of CPEC, universities in Pakistan will provide a more hands-on experience to students and universities, to ensure the transfer of technology by strengthening connectivity within the industry. Higher education experts should be involved in achieving goals set for CPEC and the Vision of 2025.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan is an autonomous body working on regulations of universities, it should take initiative to start a conversation with research centres and other organisations, incentivising their contacts with all companies to establish incubation facilities and grant access to various universities.
A comprehensive document will be prepared and submitted to the Planning Commission of Pakistan for the effective implementation of the various projects, and to determine the role of universities and researchers in achieving the goals of CPEC and the Vision of 2025.
The provision of Chinese language courses is another crucial element in achieving the success of CPEC. Universities in Pakistan can develop a strategy with a partnership with the Chinese embassy to establish more Chinese language centres as are already implemented by the Confucius Institute at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Islamabad since 2013.
The other final but crucial aspect is the tremendous research opportunity that Pakistani universities will get to map the social, economic, environmental and political impacts of CPEC. If it does not bring any benefits to the local people, all this massive investment will eventually be lost. All policy makers and think tanks should be involved in producing more research for boosting this mega project. Universities in Pakistan must sign more MOUs with Chinese universities for an exchange programme. It is expected that youth of Pakistan will gain more momentum by getting scholarship and higher education under CPEC.
Published in Daily Times,September 25th 2017