Obit Nelson Mandela

Canada is offering promising public servants in Africa a chance to study in Canada, under scholarships announced Wednesday to honour former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died last week. (Denis Farrell/Associated Press)

Promising public servants in Africa could have the chance to study in Canada under new scholarships announced today to honour former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, being honoured in events this week leading up to his weekend funeral, died last week at age 95.

The Canadian scholarship will be known as the African Leaders of Tomorrow fund, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday in South Africa, where he attended a memorial to Mandela on Tuesday.

The scholarship is intended to "help early career public sector professionals in Africa ... learn best practices in governance, public policy and administration," according to a news release from the Prime Minister's Office.

The program will consider candidates from across Africa for study in Canada for one to two years, with special consideration given to female students to encourage the advancement of women leaders in Africa, the release said. 

Candidates will study in Canada in French or English at the master’s degree level or equivalent in the areas of public policy and public administration. They will be required to present their cases for their areas of study and demonstrate that they will contribute to shape Africa’s future through public service, the release said.

Coming from existing funds

There is also cash for Canadian students pursuing master's or PhD-level programs in social sciences and humanities at Canadian universities. Students who want one of the 20 annual Canada Graduate Scholarships to Honour Nelson Mandela will have to do research in one of the following topics:

  • National unity. 
  • Democracy, freedom and human rights.
  • Leadership.
  • Children’s participation in society.  

Up to 10 master’s scholarships and up to 10 doctoral scholarships will be awarded for the first time in 2015, following the 2014 competition, the release said. Scholarships at the master’s level will provide $17,500 for one year, while those at the doctoral level will provide $35,000 annually for three years.

A spokesman for Harper said the money for the scholarships is coming from existing international development funds.

The MasterCard Foundation is matching the government's funding of up to $5 million over five years.

It's not yet known who will administer the fund, though a Canadian organization will be selected to manage it.

“Nelson Mandela believed that education, more than anything else, improved the chances of leading a better life,” Harper said in the release. 

“I am very proud that our government is supporting scholarships that will help early career public sector professionals from Africa gain the knowledge they need to help advance economic and social development in their countries."