By Elcott Coleby Bahamas Information Services Representatives from the Human Development, Education and Employment Department (DHDEE) of the Organization of American States (OAS) met with Bahamian stakeholders to apprise them of increased education and training opportunities for Bahamians through the expanded scholarship programs offered by the OAS. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday November 17. Led by DHDEE coordinator for the partnership program, Juliete Mallet Phillip, the group also discussed ways to improve on the relatively low level of Bahamian participation in the myriad of scholarship opportunities provided by the OAS. In attendance were representatives from the College of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Education, Bahamas Information Services, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lyford Cay Foundation. Of particular interest was the partnership program for higher education and training. Created in 2000, the OAS Consortium of Universities currently comprises over one-hundred higher education institutions and has significantly increased the number of scholarships recipients over the years. Over 3,000 scholarships were granted since 2010 and 1,800 alone in 2013 but notwithstanding this, the level of Bahamian participation remains relatively low. Mrs. Philip bemoaned the fact that even though the partnership with the University of Brussels made available some sixty scholarships in 2013, no Bahamians applied. It was agreed that more public education was needed to raise the level of awareness among the student population and the public at large of these scholarship opportunities. Distinct advantages of the partnership program over traditional OAS scholarships are that these scholarships include language training; they cover about 90% of education expenses and the academic disciplines of medicine and law are included. Under this partnership program and on an annual basis, China offers more than 100 scholarships; Belgium makes available 60; Macedonia awards 15; several hundred can be secured through Mexico and Brazil has approved some 500 scholarships for 2015, up from the 450 scholarships the cluster of 46 universities awarded in 2014. Applications are to be filed online at the OAS portal. According to the OAS, the Department of Human Development, Education and Employment (DHDEE) through its OAS Scholarship and Training Programs continues to provide diverse scholarship opportunities for academic and professional development studies to citizens or permanent residents of OAS member countries to study in recognized educational institutions of the OAS member and observer states, with the goal of strengthening human and institutional capacity and thus, foster integral development throughout the Hemisphere. All interested persons can access additional information at www.oas.org/en/scholarships/ or contact the Student Affairs Department at the College of The Bahamas; the Communications Division at the Ministry of Education; the Technical Support Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Bahamas Information Services Department or the Lyford Cay Foundation. Bahamian students living and studying abroad can also contact the nearest Bahamas embassy or General Consular for additional information and assistance.