The government of Ireland, through its international cooperation arm, Irish Aid, has launched a scholarship program that seeks to empower mid-career civil servants in Liberia.
They also launched a fellowship program that will take qualified employees of selected collaborating ministries and agencies to Ireland to obtain higher education.
Irish Ambassador accredited to Sierra Leone and Liberia, Sinead Walsh, launched the fellowship scheme in Liberia last week in the presence of senior officials of selected collaborating ministries and agencies.
The exercise, the Irish envoy said, is the first of its kind for Liberia, indicating that it is meant to strengthen the capacities of ministries, departments, agencies, and development organizations by providing higher education opportunities for their employees.
Liberia’s inclusion now put the number of countries benefitting from the scheme to nine. The country’s start up will, however, commence as the first cycle during the 2016-2017 cycle. However, Ambassador Walsh called on Liberians to take advantage of the many opportunities that the scheme offers.
She said the Irish government wants to augment human resource capacity, which would help ensure efficiency and productivity, and also strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Eight ministries and agencies were selected by the Irish government as eligible collaborating partners including the ministries of Health, Public Works, and Justice as well as the Liberia National Police (LNP). Other agencies include the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation and the WASH Consortium of Liberia.
Irish Aid Program Officer for Liberia, Elena Gronne, said the number of fellowships to be awarded for the nine collaborating countries will include about 70-75 individuals.
She said only applicants nominated by the Irish Aid partner organizations are eligible to apply.
Some basic requirements for eligibility, according to Madam Gronne, are that the applicant must be a Liberian, employed by the Irish Aid partner, nominated to apply and have achieved the necessary academic standard to be accepted into a post graduate diploma or master’s course in an institute of higher education in Ireland.
“Applicant must provide a letter from their employer granting study leave for the duration of the fellowship and guaranteeing that they will be able to return to an equivalent position in the organization at the end of the fellowship period,” she said.
“Also, the applicant will have to be a mid-career professional, must have a minimum of three years relevant employment experience and must have worked for their present organization for a minimum of one year. Additional requirements include: applicant to also be able to identify a relevant college course from the directory of post graduate courses suitable for fellowships awards in a higher education institution in Ireland.”
She also said that the final number of fellowships awarded will depend on the calibre of the candidates nominated and the demand for places from Liberia as well as other countries, with the deadline set for January, 31, 2016.
The launch of the program brought together several senior government officials including Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn and Public Works Minister Gyude Moore; LNP Deputy Police Commissioner for Administration, William Mulbah; DEA Director-General, Anthony K. Souh as well as representatives from BIN and other agencies.
In their respective remarks, they lauded the Irish government for the initiative.