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On the Commemoration of 50 years of the OAS Scholarship Program Countries Recognize a Great Contribution to the Progress of the Region

  October 4, 2010

Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) celebrated Friday the fiftieth anniversary of the Fellowship Program of the Organization during a joint session of the Permanent Council and the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI).

The commemorative event was held at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, where representatives of Member States reiterated their commitment to the scholarship program and expressed their satisfaction with the positive impact the program has had by benefiting more than 100,000 citizens of the Americas.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, reiterated the Organization’s commitment to the scholarship program and pledged to continue implementing it, “with the same strength it has had over the past 50 years.”

“For half a century the Member States of the Organization have continued to recognize the importance of education, and especially higher education through their support to this program,” he said, and highlighted that education is a key element for the development of any nation.

Ambassador Ramdin also referred to the many benefits students obtained from studying in other countries and returning to their communities to apply their knowledge and experience. “That is what the OAS scholarship program is all about, providing access to quality education to help citizens improve their living standards and that of their communities as a whole, and this is where the OAS makes a significant difference in the personal lives of American citizens in a very direct and meaningful way,” he added.

The OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Mauricio Cortes Costa, who introduced the program, explained that the OAS fellowships have contributed to training at the doctoral, master and research levels, and reported the establishment of more than 116 partnerships with universities of the hemisphere.

“Our program strengthens all nations of the hemisphere, this is international solidarity based on equality, inclusion and social justice. The celebration held here today is more than just the commemoration of a milestone in the history of a development program. It is the celebration of the early recognition by the OAS Member States of the importance of education for our common future,” said the OAS official.

Dr. Helga Cuéllar-Marchelli, Manager of the Education Section of the Salvadorian Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES), an OAS Scholarship recipient, attended the session and encouraged governments to continue promoting democracy and development through higher education.

“In the context of globalization, investments in higher education should contribute to capacity building, regional cooperation and knowledge sharing. Within this framework, the OAS scholarship program should continue playing an important role in preparing leaders and professionals committed to development,” she affirmed.

The Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS and current chair of CEPCIDI, Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos, called on Member States to make efforts to leverage, enhance and project the benefits of the fellowship program. "At this important moment, when we are on the verge of adopting a Social Charter, I invite you to make a systematic effort that allows us to engage ministries, public and private agencies, universities and foundations to help grow this program," he said. "There is no doubt that education becomes a critical element in the transformation of our continent," he added.

Speaking on the future of OAS scholarships, the Director of the Department of Human Development, Education and Culture, Marie Levens, said that the Organization is looking to collaborate with new partners in the hemisphere and in the rest of world to provide more opportunities through partnerships with public and private stakeholders. “Your strong support shows that luckily education continues to be a priority area for the OAS,” she added, as she thanked the commitment countries have had with promoting education opportunities through scholarships in the past five decades.

Finally, the current Chair of the Permanent Council and Representative of El Salvador to the OAS, Ambassador Joaquin Maza, joined the celebration, highlighting the legacy and impact the scholarship program has had. "Over the last fifty years the organization has changed and priorities have diversified, but education remains and must be one of the most essential shared priorities in the region, because it identifies us through our differences and motivates us to work together as a region to achieve the common welfare of our peoples,” he concluded.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-364/10