ISLAMABAD: Nineteen Pakistani secondary school counselors recently completed a two-week professional development tour in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts organised by Education USA at the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP). Participants gathered information to effectively advise Pakistani students about higher education in the United States through meetings with the US university admissions officials and campus visits, a press release issued on Tuesday said. “We are pleased to be able to provide school counselors with the skills and knowledge required to advise Pakistani students about college admissions, and to give them a chance to experience the US college and university campuses first hand,” USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar said. In two weeks, 19 counselors visited 22 academic institutions in four states. They include: Stockton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Monmouth University, Brookdale Community College, Stony Brook University, New York Film Academy, Columbia University, New York University, University of Bridgeport, Yale University, Mount Holyoke College, University of Massachusetts, Elms College, Western England University, Bay Path University, Worcester State University, Merrimack College, Suffolk University, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “The high school counselors tour is a great opportunity to showcase Pakistan, our education system and its amazing students to these 22 academic institutions. We hope that these Pakistani counselors will use the knowledge gained during the tour to encourage and help students with the admissions and enrolment processes at US colleges and universities,” Education USA Advising Manager Umair Khan said. Education USA assists students interested in applying to or learning about the US colleges and universities. USEFP is a binational commission established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the United States. Education: Senator Abdul Qayyum on Tuesday said that promotion of knowledge economy was the only way forward to achieve the goal of a prosperous Pakistan. Participating in budget debate in the Upper House, he said that Pakistan was although ostensibly spending two percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. “However, if we take into account over Rs 800 billion being spent by the private sector on education, it in fact comes to four percent of the GDP,” he said. He said additional budget alone would not work. “Even today over 22 million children are out of school. This aspect has to be looked into by the provinces,” he said. He said in this context Punjab was in the lead which brought over three million additional children to school in the last four years. “Unfortunately progress in Sindh is zero. We must get out of parochialism/provincialism and adopt nationalism to promote education,” he said.