US helping Pak to renovate over 2,000 schools, build 150 new ones: Munter

Islamabad, Nov 19 (ANI): The United States will work with the Pakistan government to renovate over 2,000 schools and build 150 new ones over the next two years as part of its efforts to improve education in Pakistan, US ambassador Cameron Munter has said.

Responding to an article in a leading American newspaper implying that the US had failed to contribute towards strengthening education in Pakistan, Munter said that since 2002, Washington has provided nearly 640 million dollars for the betterment of education, benefiting more than 900,000 students.

"Our Access English micro scholarships programme provides English-language instruction and a chance for a better future to more than 5,000 economically disadvantaged Pakistani students every year," the envoy said in a letter to The New York Times.

"In higher education, we are investing some $20 million a year in Fulbright scholarships to bring Pakistani students to colleges and universities in the United States. Our Access and Fulbright programs in Pakistan are the largest in the world," he added.

Munter pointed towards the 7.5-billion-dollar Kerry-Lugar aid while countering the newspaper's correspondent Nicholas Kristoff's claims that the US had allocated large amount of military aid to Pakistan but not for educational institutions.

"The Kerry-Lugar legislation, which authorizes $7.5 billion in assistance over the next five years, represents our unmistakable commitment to engagement and partnership with the Pakistani people. We are hard at work every day providing just the kind of hope and opportunity that, as Mr. Kristof so cogently argues, is the best antidote to the hateful and violent ideology of Osama bin Laden and his ilk," the envoy said.

In his column, Kristof had said, "It helps that the United States has approved the Kerry-Lugar-Berman package to provide civilian aid, earning the U.S. a dose of goodwill in Pakistan. But most important, members of Pakistan's emerging middle class are stepping up to the plate."

"They are enraged at the terrorists who have been tearing apart their country, they're appalled by corruption and illiteracy, and they want peace so that their children can become educated and live a better life. Their obsession is college, not Kashmir," added the columnist. (ANI)

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