The government of Pakistan is taking increasing steps to invest in the future of ICT in the country, starting with the nation’s youth.
The Ministry of Information Technology is introducing a range of initiatives to promote ICT as a topic of study and encourage participation by students. One such measure is the Prime Minister’s National ICT Scholarship Programme, which paves the way for children in marginalized or rural areas to take up an education in this field. Since 2013, scholarships have been provided to over 900 participants through this programme, totaling an investment of Rs 1.1 billion. These students are now working towards qualifications in ICT and related disciplines at some of the best universities in the state. Similarly, the National Grassroots ICT Research Initiative has sponsored almost 900 final-year projects since it has been in operation.
When students are concluding their tertiary studies, internship programmes are available to ease the transition to work. In the two years between 2013 and 2015, around 800 graduates or final-year students were granted placements with ICT firms. These interns have worked across an exciting range of fields, including app development, gaming, animation, iPhone programming and .net programming. This internship program will soon be re-launched and expanded, offering 3,000 new work experience opportunities. It is anticipated that many that have completed the program will then be able to transfer their skills and business knowledge into ICT start-ups, which will also drive future employment opportunities.
The field of ICT has also been a powerful realm for female empowerment. In conjunction with Microsoft, the Ministry has started a number of labs in Bait-ul-Mal, specifically targeted to improve girls’ computing skills.