Chile to set up Mandela scholarships for African students

11 August 2014

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria says she has put a proposal to her government to make 50 scholarships available to students in South Africa and other African countries to pursue their master’s degrees at the University of Chile.

Briefing journalists after delivering the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Cape Town on Saturday, Bachelet said the scholarships would be named after Mandela.

“Nelson Mandela has been a leader who inspired me all of my life. So for me, this is very special. But also, as I said in the lecture, he has taught us so much … So that is why … in 2015, we are going to have 50 Nelson Mandela scholarships … to go study at the University of Chile.”

She said the scholarships would fund deserving students who wanted to pursue master’s degrees in fields such as farming, mining and astronomy.

Bachelet added that her country would erect a special sculpture of Mandela at a park in Santiago, “where so many people [walk by], so they can learn about Nelson Mandela and be inspired by him”.

She said she was honoured to have been invited to deliver the 12th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, and had in turn invited the Nelson Mandela Foundation to attend a South-South dialogue in Chile, where they could share their experiences on the challenges of social cohesion, diversity and inequality.

Delivering her lecture earlier, Bachelet spoke of how Mandela had inspired not only South Africans but the rest of the world when he chose nation building through reconciliation after spending wso many years in jail.

While building social cohesion included dealing with poverty, cultural differences and inequalities, she said, the strongest weapon for forging national unity was through the state holding extensive consultations with its people.

This included consulting people not only on the implementation of programmes, but also on decisions that preceded law and policy making.

She said her government was currently consulting the people of Chile on creating a new ministry for indigenous groups, in order to get their input on how they want their country to be run.