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Canadian Fellowships in Communications offered for Afghans

2 Year MA Program in Ottawa available for 5 students, but who benefits from the $$?
Robert Maier
Thursday 9 October 2008

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DEADLINE : Monday, December 1, 2008

See end of article for link to more information.

A unique scholarship to study two years in Canada has been established by the University of Ottawa (Canada) and the Open Society Institute headed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. As a communications program, it is not aimed at working journalists. Its focus is on general media studies and organizational communications.

Its requirements are a little stiff. An undergraduate college degree and proficiency in English or French is required, as is current residency in Afghanistan. It also requires that fellows be "committed to returning to Afghanistan after completion of the program."

Most Afghan journalists we know these days would not qualify, even though they have many years of experience, and would benefit from such a program. Too many live outside Afghanistan, after being forced out after terrorist and official threats, arrests and detainments— though they would dearly love to return to their families and work to improve their country. Sadly, some have been killed, or are languishing in jail cells.

Many excellent Afghan journalists grew up in refugee camps or in exile, and learned their craft under fire. They had no access to higher education. Most of their academic records were lost or destroyed during the war.

Many respected Afghan journalists are working outside Afghanistan, for the benefit of the Afghan people. If you’re fluent in English in Afghanistan, you’re probably working for the US Army or an NGO making $100,000+ a year, while the average journalist makes $8-10,000 a year, and risks his or her life daily.

This is just another example of how big NGO money is spent on important-sounding projects, but it is not reaching the people who need and deserve it most, because of bureaucratic barricades.

The University of Ottawa will be paid $300,000+ by the Soros Foundation to educate these five persons. Are there other ways this money could be spent to support improved communications and media in Afghanistan? It’s only a question. We hope that well-deserving individuals have a positive experience and return to do great work in their home country.

We also hope that the Soros-allied foundations will consider helping those on the ground with only their vast experience as a credential, or those struggling in exile to communicate the value of free speech and good government to their brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.

Afghan Communications Scholarship: Program Guidelines

The Afghan Communications Scholarship provides fully funded fellowships to qualified citizens of Afghanistan to complete a two year MA in Communications at the University of Ottawa/l’Université d’Ottawa (http://www.uottawa.ca) in Ottawa, Canada. The program provides the opportunity for post-graduate study in Canada for journalists and communications professionals in early or mid-career who demonstrate both academic and professional excellence and the potential to become leaders, decision-makers and agents of change. Up to five finalists will be awarded a grant beginning in July 2009 and concluding in May 2011.
The master’s program is offered in Canada’s two official languages, French and English.

Le programme de maîtrise est offert dans les deux langues officielles du Canada, soit le français et l’anglais. Pour information en français. (http://www.communication.uottawa.ca/fra/program2.html)

Fields of Study Offered
The Master of Arts in Communications offers two fields of specialization: Media Studies and Organizational Communication. Media studies examines the content and the modes of operation of traditional and new media in their social, cultural, political and regulatory contexts. Organizational communication focuses on the mechanisms of internal and external communication in private and public organizations, group and interpersonal interactions in the work place and media relations.

Teaching and research emphasize major issues related to new information and communication technologies in media and organizations at national and international levels.
For more information about the program of study please visit the University of Ottawa Department of Communications website. (http://www.communication.uottawa.ca/eng/program2.html)

The program does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. The competition is merit-based and open to those meeting the following criteria:

• resident of Afghanistan;
• holding an undergraduate degree (4- or 5-year) at the time of application deadline with an excellent academic record;
• proficient in spoken and written English or French at time of application;
• able to demonstrate professional aptitude in communications and/or journalism;
• committed to returning to Afghanistan after completion of the program.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Criteria for Selection
Approximately 5 awards will be granted in 2009. Selection is based on academic and professional merit, professional aptitude, leadership potential, long-term commitment to change in Afghanistan, and English or French language ability. A North America-based selection committee will review applications of candidates who meet the requirements and will select semifinalists.

Semifinalists will be tested for English or French and interviewed in Afghanistan in January/February 2009. The program will cover costs associated with language testing and interviews. The final selection committee will recommend finalists and all semifinalists will be notified of their status by April, 2009.

Please do NOT contact the OSI office in Kabul about your status. The office will contact candidates after receiving notification from OSI–New York.

Financial Terms
Fellowships will cover the following costs:
• program-related travel;
• pre-departure and arrival orientation;
• all costs associated with the pre-academic summer school program;
• tuition (for pre-academic and graduate program);
• monthly living stipend (to cover room and board);
• textbooks;
• professional development support;
• accident and illness insurance;
• participation in program meetings in Canada or the US.

Visa Sponsorship
Participants will enter Canada on a student visa and are expected to comply with all visa regulations. Students may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement upon completion of the program. Requests for visa renewals or extensions will not be considered.

The program does not offer any financial support or special provisions for dependent family members. Family members will have to apply on their own for Canadian visas.

Participant Responsibility
Pre-Academic Summer Program: From early-July to early-August 2009, grantees are required to participate in a four-week pre-academic summer program held in Istanbul, Turkey. The program consists of classes in academic writing in English, as well as social science and humanities-based seminars.

In addition to the summer program, finalists must attend a pre-departure orientation (held during the summer school in Istanbul) and an annual program workshop, held in Canada or the US each spring. Fellows must uphold the academic standards of the host university and undertake full-time study for the duration of the program. Fellows will not be permitted to change their assigned host university or field of study. Failure to maintain academic and professional standards may result in dismissal from the program.

Contact Information
M. Asif Ehsan
OSI – Afghanistan, Consultant, Youth & Scholarships
Tel: +93 700-297-474 and +93 786-209-279
Email: asifehsan14@yahoo.com
Office address:
House number: 53, Butcher Street,
First Lane (left),
Kabul, Afghanistan


For program information please visit: www.soros.org/initiatives/scholarship.

DEADLINE : Monday, December 1, 2008

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