OAS scholarships up for grabs

Education officer urges J'cans to make use of opportunity

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Observer staff reporter hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, November 10, 2014

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FOREIGN language education officer in the Ministry of Education, Martha Corbett Baugh has issued a call for more Jamaicans to take advantage of the Organisation of American States (OAS) scholarships that are up for grabs each year.

Addressing editors and reporters at the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange yesterday, Corbett Baugh said that, while the scholarships are available each year, the information regarding accessibility is not properly circulated.

"There is lack of proper circulation of information. The scholarships are advertised through the Ministry of Finance and the OAS puts an advertisement in the newspapers, which gives you links and invites candidates to do proper follow-up," said Corbett Baugh, who has benefited from the programme.

According to Jeanelle van GlaanenWeygel, OAS representative at the Office of the General Secretariat in Jamaica, an agreement between the University of the West Indies and the OAS has been in place since 2007 that allows Caribbean students to access scholarships.

"Over 150 OAS scholarship recipients pursued academic studies at UWI since 2007 (when the OAS-UWI co-operation agreement was signed). During that time, UWI offered over US$1 million in tuition waivers to OAS scholarship recipients," she said.

Van GlaanenWeygel later added that, between 2007 and 2014, more than 185 Jamaicans have benefited from OAS scholarships.

But Corbett Baugh said there is a great disadvantage for Jamaican citizens, because not everyone reads the newspapers, nor has the patience to follow through with the instructions for applying for the scholarships.

Moreover, Corbett Baugh explained that, while the instructions and application processes are lengthy, help is available at the OAS office to complete the paperwork and make the deadlines.

"You need to show us that you care and that you are persistent and determined to get it. It is one of the easiest ones to apply for -- others are over 50 pages. When I applied and said I didn't understand, they helped," she explained. "You don't need to be out of this galaxy to achieve anything in life. In your culture, you're very elegant and appropriate, and you don't talk. If you are experiencing pain, scream, bawl, let everyone know, and then you can receive help."

Corbett Baugh maintained that when people refuse to ask for help, the office will not know the difficulty and the deadline would pass and cause individuals to miss the opportunity.

Additionally, Corbett Baugh said that the scholarships have two components, which allow individuals to choose their place of study or be placed in an institution if they have difficulty deciding on a university.

"The OAS can place you at the university if you have difficulty selecting schools for your programme of interest," Corbett Baugh said. "If you do not see what your line of interest or research is, there you have the option of stating it, and through communications your request can be carried on."

While some scholarships are complementary and others are full grants, Corbett Baugh said the initiative by the OAS is an avenue for all to pursue higher education.

"We want to ensure persons know about these scholarships. You may not be ready for it now, but you need to know how it works," she said, noting that the benefits are amazing, both professionally and economically.

Two provisions of the scholarship programme are that people pursue courses in a discipline that will enable them to contribute wholly to society and return to Jamaica upon completion.




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