Programme bourses d'excellence
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In much of Senegal’s agricultural sector, the problem is not a failure to find quality people to work, but rather, it is failure to find those same people with the right training. This is especially true when working with women and other disenfranchised groups. Last year, on international Women’s Day, the Deputy Director of the USAID|Senegal, Mrs Alfreda Brewer, presided over the launch of the agricultural scholarship program of the project called "Bourses d’Excellence". This program has allowed over 140 motivated learners to pursue educational programs in seven project domains at levels ranging from a Bac+2 all the way up to doctorate. As the program fully integrates our vision for gender equity, a majority of recipients of the awards are given to women.
Following success of the initial Senegalese scholarships, a panel was convened in winter of last year to select candidates for the higher level scholarship programs being carried out by the project. The awards were provided to exceptional students and faculty from a cross-section of USAID/ERA's Senegalese AETR partners through a highly selective competitive process which included evaluations by both members of the private sector as well as the USAID/ERA team. Following a preliminary review, candidates were invited to the program management unit for three days of interviews, and in total, 96 candidates were selected - 14 for US-bound programs and 82 for Senegalese ones, all oriented at the graduate level.
Nelson Mandela once said,
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
Our scholarship program seeks to do just that. By grooming the very best Senegal has to offer in top tier research programs, we are building the next generation of agricultural professionals.On March 29, 2013, the project organized a send-off ceremony for the students who were tapped to study in the United States. Following remarks by the USAID representative and a reception, the students were provided with the logistical and other necessary information needed to facilitate their travel and settling-in at Virginia Tech. And just like that, they were off to the United States.
The fourteen are currently enrolled in Virginia Tech’s intensive English program at the Language and Culture Institute where they are undergoing language training in preparation for standardized examinations. Those who do well are expected to enroll in graduate research programs across the consortium this fall, and pursuant to this end, participants have met with research faculty to discuss their courses of study for the coming years.