Media Center

Press Release


  November 7, 2008

An Organization of American States (OAS) Scholars Association in Jamaica was launched in Kingston on Thursday, to promote knowledge-sharing among member states through the OAS ex-fellows in the priority areas established by the member states. The launch took place at the UWI’s Mona campus as top OAS officials meet in Jamaica with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Haitian universities to advance a cooperation program.

Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, the OAS Assistant Secretary General, declared at the launch that with an OAS Scholars Association in Jamaica, “we hope to bring together some of these great scholars in Jamaica that have had the privilege to study with an OAS scholarship. We are hoping that these scholars will join forces and use the knowledge and skills they have acquired to give back to their communities, their country and the region or hemisphere.”

Ramdin said that since “regional or hemispheric integration of our peoples, as well as cultural exchange” are important goals of the fellowship programs, it is always important for the OAS as an institution to learn about its success in assisting or in contributing to people’s lives, “for that is, in the end, what it is all about—helping countries and their people build capacity and foster friendly relations and cultural exchanges.”

OAS fellowships provide a unique mechanism to that end, Ramdin told UWI leaders, faculty and staff members as well as Haitian university faculty members and others gathered, including the Mona Campus Principal, Prof. Gordon V. Shirley; UWI Vice Chancellor Prof. Nigel E. Harris; and Marie Levens, Director of the OAS Department of Human Development that manages the scholar program.

“We were very pleased to hear from two beneficiaries about their very positive experiences with regard to our fellowship,” he went on to state, referring to Sydonnie Shakespeare-Pellington and Desmond Augustus Campbell, OAS ex-scholars, who gave testimonials during the launch. Some 15 ex OAS scholars—mostly Jamaican—as well as current OAS scholarship recipients at Mona campus in Jamaica were on hand for the ceremony launching the scholars association.

The Assistant Secretary General stressed that, given the clearly meaningful contribution that the OAS fellowship program makes to the development of the member states, “I would regret if this program would be diminished in its scope because of budgetary reasons.”

Meanwhile, Director Levens, whose Department of Human Development is marking its 50th anniversary, explained that the OAS has over the past five decades awarded more than 10,000 scholarships to citizens of member states, helping them achieve their higher educational goals. “It is indeed a privilege to be able to assist citizens in our countries that show tremendous potential to contribute to the development of their countries but lack the funding to get the proper education to do so,” she said.

On collaboration between the OAS and the UWI—a member of the OAS Consortium of Universities—Levens noted that since the cooperation agreement was signed and implemented last year, the OAS has placed at the UWI a number of scholarship recipients unprecedented in the history of the OAS Scholarship Program.

The OAS Scholars Association will seek to establish chapters in each member country so that beneficiaries can share their experience and knowledge with each other as well as with their communities. It will also develop a body of knowledge so the OAS, together with each member state, can evaluate the impact of the OAS scholarship programs on the member states’ development priorities, programs and projects and on institutions and the career track of scholarship recipients.

Among the other OAS officials on hand were OAS Country Representative in Jamaica Dr. Joan Neil; Jeanelle Van Glaanenweygel of the Human Development Department; Jean-Ricot Dormeus, an advisor to the Assistant Secretary General Ramdin; and Maryse Robert of the Trade and Tourism Department.

Reference: E-430/08