The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) is a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program which provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors over a two year period. Participants gain an appreciation for U.S. culture and democratic values, build personal development skills, and participate in community service initiatives. The program is a U.S. Government public diplomacy initiative demonstrating this country’s dedication to education and mutual understanding. Access students reap significant benefits from the program, as improved English language skills open a window to a broader world of ideas and opportunities, increase academic opportunities for higher-level education, allow students to better contribute to the socio-economic success of their families and communities, improve chances of qualification for U.S. Government-sponsored and other exchange programs and enhance employment prospects. This program has been implemented by Nepal English Language Teachers' Association (NELTA) in Nepal since 2011.
The maximum number of students in each classroom is 20. The curriculum, based on a ‘needs assessment’ that was administered in the beginning of the program, was exclusively designed for the Access students. NELTA verifies that the selected students are from economically challenged households by visiting their homes, speaking to their school principals, teachers and neighbors, and conducting in-person interviews with family members.
Currently, there are 280 students studying under this program. There are 28 Access teachers working into the seven different locations of seven different districts of Nepal.
Some highlights of the Access program are:
· The Access Program, which is in more than 85 countries in the world with more than 70 thousand graduates, has been launched in seven different locations in Nepal.
· There are altogether 14 groups of students consisting 20 students in each. In some groups, 55 percent of the students are girl and whereas in some groups equal gender balance has been achieved. At the same time, 24 students are selected in each group where 20 students will complete the course whereas the rest of them are alternative candidates who can be substituted if any of the students drop out.
· Each classroom has been staffed by two Access teachers who are proficient in English and receive specific, Access-focused teacher training from NELTA professional teacher trainers.
· The curriculum was developed by the team of experts from NELTA.
· The selected students are either beginner or at a slightly higher level in English, which was assessed through a proficiency test that was administered during the selection process.
· The students for the Access are selected from the public schools in all centers.
· The program has received a warm welcome from the schools where they are studying and the community where the students come from.
This program addresses three main areas
a. English Language Acquisition
Students will develop the four traditional skills with a special emphasis placed on listening comprehension and oral production which are normally ignored in their regular English classes in schools due to the paper-pencil test system. In this program, students will learn how to speak proper English and develop appropriate reading and writing skills by being exposed to a variety of texts and writing tasks.
One key element of the program is to familiarize students with some important features of U.S. culture compared with Nepali culture. Students are encouraged to develop respect for and interest in other cultures, customs and beliefs.
c. Personal Development
Various elements of the program seek to foster students’ personal development, with a special focus on community service. The aim is to work towards a balanced intellectual and emotional development so that students will be better prepared to assume an active role in their communities.
Semester Course Components
The semester program will be structured on a weekly basis:
· Face-to-face classes (1.5 hours twice a week after school) Total: 3 hours
· Multimedia classes (Saturdays) Total: 2 hours * Each year students would attend classes five hours per week for 36 weeks.
· Total Weekly: 5 hours
Minimum Entry Requirements
The program is designed for public school students, between 13 to 16 years of age, who have a minimal knowledge of English. This program is exclusively directed at economically challenged youth. An equal gender balance (half girls, half boys) will be achieved at all sites. The following is a list of minimum requirements:
Public high school
13 – 16 years old
Minimal knowledge of English (High / middle beginner)
Final GPA for previous year at least 60 (on 100 scale)
The Access Teachers
There are four teachers in in each Access center. These teachers highly experienced and well trained. At the beginning of each semester, they receive a two-day intensive training workshop in their respective venue from the NELTA teacher trainers according to the curriculum of Access program. They have minimum of Bachelor’s degree in English.
For further information:
Kunjarmani Gautam, Access Coordinator
Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA), Head Office
Chundevi-4, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu
Phone: 00977-1-4720455 Ext 104 or 105