The ‘English Access Microscholarship Program (Access Program)’ is implemented by Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) and sponsored by U.S. Embassy/the US Department of State. It provides a foundation of English language skills and leadership skills to bright 13 to 16 year-olds from economically disadvantaged backgrounds through two-year of after-school instruction and intensive sessions. Access students also gain an appreciation for U.S. culture and democratic values through enhancement activities. A greater sensitivity to cultural differences, coupled with the acquired English language skills, will enable the participants to take advantage of opportunities that were previously unavailable to them. The 400-hour, two-year program consists of 36 weeks per year, in addition to a 40 hour Youth Leadership Development Summer Camp. The students will also be introduced to U.S. education system, particularly the materials that U.S. children learn in their schools. Since the program includes the students from disadvantaged ethnic minorities, they are given ample opportunities to interact in English on the issues of ethnic tolerance, individual freedom, human rights, gender equity and participate in events organized to promote and develop sensitivity on such issues.
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 verified that the selected students were from economically disadvantaged households by visiting their homes, speaking to their school principals, teachers and neighbors, and conducting in-person interviews with family members. Currently, there are 360 students studying under this program. There are 36 Access teachers working in 9 different locations of Nepal, namely Lalitpur NELTA Branch Office, Kumaripati, Lalitpur, Bhimdutta 18, Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur, Bindebashini Higher Secondary School, Barpatan, Pokhara, Kaski, Birendranagar, Surkhet, Nepalgunj 8, Banke, Ghorahi, Dang, Tamghas, Gulmi, Laxminiyan Bazaar, Janakpur, and Gajuri, Dhading.
- The Access Program, which is in more than 85 countries in the world with more than 60 thousand graduates, has been launched in different locations in Nepal.
- Since its inception in February, 2011, Access program has now spread to 16 districts of Nepal. More than 400 students have graduated from the two-year Access program and currently 280 students are studying in 7 locations: Banke, Dang, Dhading, Gulmi, Janakpur, Lalitpur, and Surkhet.
- Currently there are altogether 14 groups of students consisting 20 students in each. In some groups, 55 per cent 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 English Language learning program is a joint effort between NELTA and the U.S. Embassy, Kathmandu to develop English language proficiency and cultural understanding for economically disadvantaged students throughout Nepal.
- The English language proficiency skills gained through this program opens up future possibilities that would otherwise have been unavailable. Students are more prepared to take an active part of their community and pursue further professional and educational pursuits.
Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA): A professional network of dedicated English language teachers in Nepal
English Access Microscholarship Program: Through the Access program, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has helped 70,000 students in over 85 countries since its inception in 2004.
U.S. Embassy Kathmandu, Regional English Language Office: This office oversees many projects that aims to increase communication and mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of Nepal.