Two Canadian aid project workers visited Slovakia last month to boost Slovak participation in a scheme to help citizens of central and eastern European countries attend professional development activities in Canada.
The project, known as the Partnership for Tomorrow Program, is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, and administered by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).
ACCC Project Officer Branka Gudelj explained that Slovaks wishing to attend seminars, study tours and other activities in Canada that would contribute to Slovakia's "professional and institutional capacity" could apply for an up to $10,000 Canadian grant to cover travel, work and living expenses related to the visit.
"While over 600 people so far from eligible countries have participated in the programme, we haven't had much response from Slovaks," she said. "I'd love it if we could get even 10 to 15 people to send in application forms for project financing."
Projects particularly likely to win support from the ACCC include participation in seminars on Roma or minorities issues, gender topics or any work related to improving democratic and economic transition. Ideas for improving Canadian trade and investment links to the region are also encouraged.
The application form, which is available from ACCC offices in Ottawa, can be processed within a month, promised Gudelj, as long as it is properly filled out, and reaches ACCC offices at least one month before the activity is scheduled to begin.
While the largest funds available are reserved for youth (aged 19 to 30) or for people working with non-governmental institutions or organisations, virtually any Slovak citizen could qualify at least to have the cost of his or her airfare met.
An important element of the process, Gudelj added, was support for each request from a Canadian partner - a system of "checks and balances", she said, which ensured that Canadian taxpayer money would not be misused. The process required a letter of invitation be sent by the Canadian side, and that the money released for the project be sent initially to a Canadian host organisation, such as a university hosting the seminar.
"Basically, applicants should remember to be clear and concise about what they plan to do, how it will help Slovakia, and exactly how much each side is contributing to the project," she said.
"Oh, and one more thing - I'm alone in the office here, so people have to be patient about asking for help filling out their application forms."
For more information on how to apply, contact The Slovak Spectator at firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Jul 2001 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson