By Marion V. Ali
Twenty-six Belizean students will leave the country this weekend for Taiwan where they will pursue tertiary-level studies in fields ranging from engineering to medicine over the next few years.
At an orientation ceremony last Saturday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington reminded the students of the meaningful opportunity they have received amidst a shortage of resources and compared to others, including Taiwanese students, who would like to have the same opportunity. This phase, he explained, is a preparatory stage. “You are all building a nation…and your role, when you finish studying, is to come back to Belize…to innovate, to create, to enhance, and to produce.”
Ambassador Benjamin Ho congratulated the students saying that the fact that they won their scholarships means that they were the best of the applicants who competed for them. He also explained that his country offers this kind of assistance because Taiwanese believe that human resource training is the best type of training that a country can have.
“We envy you, Belize, because you have plenty of land. Your size is about two-thirds of Taiwan but you are only 300,000 people.
“We are just a little bit larger than yours, but we have 23 million people. We buy property by inches. Over here you buy by acres or hectares. You have tremendous natural resources, but I think the most important resource a country can have is not only natural resource because once you use it it’s going to be depleted. But human resource, the more you use it, the better it is going to be”, Ambassador Ben Ho concluded.
The students are part of two programs which Taiwan and Belize share. The International Cooperation and Development Fund and MOFA Scholarship program that offer undergraduate or graduate level studies ranging from Environment Sustainable Development to International Health and from Engineering to Medicine.
Belizean students are offered scholarships to study in Taiwan on the merits of their character, physical health, and on grounds that they possess a high school diploma or higher with a minimum GPA of three or above, and are between the ages of 18 and 30 years old and have not been expelled from any Taiwanese university.
The scholarships are worth at least $20,000 US per annum.
Currently there are more than 100 Belizean students in Taiwan and overall Taiwan has sponsored more than 400 scholarships for Belizeans.