Trinidad & Tobago’s High Commissioner to Canada, Camille Robinson-Regis, has urged Caribbean students to take advantage of the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) — which also includes the Caribbean — that offers scholarships for student exchanges in research at the college, undergraduate and graduate levels.
Interested students in the Caribbean can apply for a C$7,000 scholarship for a college or undergraduate exchange of up to four months and for a C$10,000 scholarship for a graduate exchange of up to six months.
The ELAP aims to support the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas while strengthening the linkages between Canadian post-secondary institutions and those in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“This is an excellent program that young people, not only in Trinidad & Tobago, but the rest of the Caribbean region can access,” Robinson-Regis said at a meeting with T & T nationals and friends of the twin-island republic last week in Toronto. “Students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad & Tobago or any other tertiary level institution in our region can apply for these scholarships.
“Once they are granted, they have the opportunity to come to a university in Canada and be exposed to the Canadian system of education and be afforded the opportunity to have those credits put on their degree programs that they are doing at one of the Caribbean academic institutions.”
The deadline for this year’s scholarships is April 30, 2010. Students can apply online by going to the Government of Canada International Scholarship Programs website. Successful applicants must arrive in Canada and begin their college or undergraduate studies no later than the first week of January 2011, and their graduate research no later than March 15, 2011.
Robinson-Regis said CARICOM is seeking a reciprocal arrangement that will allow Canadian students to attend Caribbean universities.
There are close to 75 registered colleges and universities in the Caribbean offering tertiary programs of the highest quality.
“So whereas our students are benefitting from a Canadian institution of higher learning, we are suggesting that Canadian students should also come to our institutions of higher learning so they can see what we are doing in our region,” she said. “The UWI has a very high reputation and during a visit to a Canadian university yesterday I was told that Canadian students who have been on exchange programs there have found the UWI system to be very challenging. Our students are excelling at UWI and when they come to Canadian universities, they do well here also.
“Once that exchange program is funded properly, it will give these students an opportunity to go to Trinidad & Tobago or another university campus to see what we have to offer and to see that we have professors who can match equally or, in some cases, might be better than the professors that they have here.”
T & T’s top diplomat in Canada for the past two years, Robinson-Regis held ministerial responsibilities in Consumer and Legal Affairs and Planning and Development before accepting her first foreign affairs posting.
As Minister of Planning & Development, she spearheaded the formulation and articulation of T & T’s national development strategy which has as its core objective the achievement of developed country status by 2020.
At the packed meeting at the T & T Consulate building, Robinson-Regis also disclosed that T & T is working with the Canadian government to recognize the accreditation of skilled nationals.
“This is also being done in the other CARICOM countries because we know that our technical vocational education is of a very high level and consequently we have argued that our citizens should not be disadvantaged when they come here,” she said. “They should be able to enter the workforce without having to go through another set of training and be delayed.
“Some Canadian institutions have agreed that they will come to the CARICOM region, look at what we have been doing in terms of technical vocational education and once it’s of a particular level, they will accredit our institutions so that we can have a cross-fertilization of persons coming to Canada already accredited and persons going to the Caribbean already accredited.”
Canada and T & T have enjoyed close and longstanding relations since a full-time trade commissioner was assigned to Port-of-Spain in 1938. The countries officially established diplomatic relations shortly after T & T achieved independence in August 1962.
The countries have signed many mutually beneficial bilateral agreements over the years, including the mutual legal assistance treaty to facilitate the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement agencies and an accord for the protection and promotion of investment.
In addition, Canada continues to provide extensive information technology and specialized training to the Trinidad & Tobago Defense Force under Canada’s Military Assistance Training Program.