Ford fellowship programme ends, lauded, in West Africa

As the Ford Foundation’s 10-year International Fellowships Program comes to an end, a closing ceremony at the West African Research Centre in Dakar, which hosted the initiative in the region, took stock of its operations, which included the awarding of 385 research grants in three West African countries.

The International Fellowships Program, or IFP, provided fellowships for postgraduate research to leaders from marginalised and excluded communities in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia and Latin America, giving the recipients the opportunity to study abroad at prestigious universities.

The programme operated a total of 4,500 grants for students from 22 countries between 2001 and 2013, with funding of US$355 million.

Of the 1,450 fellows selected from Africa and the Middle East, nearly two-thirds came from rural areas or small cities and towns, according to the West African Research Centre, or WARC. More than half were now employed in the public sector, with the others working in the not-for-profit or private sectors at local, national and international levels.

The three West African countries of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal between them accounted for 385 of the fellowships.

At the April WARC meeting, organisers and beneficiaries of the IFP agreed that the project had been well managed and was a “good example of governance”, according to the director, Professor Ousmane Sène, reported Le Soleil of Dakar.

Sène praised the community engagement of the programme’s graduates who had returned to serve their countries.

IFP Executive Director Dr Joan Dassin recognised that the programme had given grant recipients the opportunity to continue their postgraduate studies, reported Le Soleil.

“The objectives of geographical distribution have been achieved. Women and disabled people have also been selected,” she said.