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EDUCATION REPORT - Getting a Fellowship, From the Ford Foundation

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

The Ford Foundation in the United States is a charitable organization that calls itself "a partner for social change." It has a study program currently available to college graduates in twenty-two countries and territories in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Ford fellowship recipient Caroline Kathomi returned to Kenya where she works with epilepsy patients
Ford fellowship recipient Caroline Kathomi returned to Kenya where she works with epilepsy patients

The Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program offers graduates a chance to continue their studies. The aim is to help them learn ways to solve problems in their own countries.

Joan Dassin is the executive director of the program.

JOAN DASSIN: "Let's say you have an undergraduate law degree but you really want to be able to bring international human rights standards to bear on a particular conflict in your part of the world. So in that case we would send you to a program in Geneva on international human rights that would give you the international markers that you need to press cases in your particular country setting, and so on. So we work very closely with students not so much about what they want to study, but more about what problem are you trying to solve."

About two-thirds of the fellows study in the United States, Canada or Europe. The others study in their home country or region.

The Ford Foundation started the program eight years ago with two hundred eighty million dollars. Fellows are chosen by independent local committees. They get advice about which schools and programs could help them reach their goals. The foundation says ninety-five percent are accepted into a university graduate program within one year of getting a fellowship.

Almost four thousand fellows have been chosen since the first were named in June of two thousand one. As of last December almost half had completed their fellowships.

The Ford Foundation says the goals include strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and increasing international cooperation. Another goal is to fight "brain drain" -- to make sure fellows return home to use their educations. The foundation says more than eighty percent have done that.

The program pays all costs, including support services like training in computer skills, academic writing and a foreign language. Partner organizations in the home countries stay in contact with the fellows throughout the program.

Joan Dassin says the fellowships are aimed especially at those with the fewest resources available.

JOAN DASSIN: "People from all walks of life, and particularly from rural areas or marginalized communities, can have access to higher education at the most advanced levels, and our program provides that opportunity."

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. You can find us at www.unsv.com, or on Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

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