The United States honored 40 students for completing the English Access Micro-scholarship program coordinated by a local nongovernmental organization, Hope for a Child in Christ (HOCIC), in Bulawayo on April 8.
Kelly McCaleb, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, officiated at the event and congratulated the students who in turn presented original poetry, song, and dance to an audience comprising parents, diplomats and local government officials. The graduating students also launched an anthology of short stories and poems they put together during the program.
During the event, a new crop of 40 students to undergo a similar program were inducted to start the program of intense English study, public speaking skills training, and lessons themed around American culture.
The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) was started in 2004 by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 14–18 year-olds from disadvantaged sectors through after-school classes and intensive summer sessions. Access students gain an appreciation for American culture and democratic values, increase their ability to participate successfully in the socio-economic development of their countries, and gain the ability to compete for and participate in future U.S. exchange and study programs.
The participants to the program receive extra tutoring in English, as well as learning about American cultural studies. They meet at least 5 hours per week over 18 months. Many of the students accepted into this program are economically disadvantaged.
Since its inception, approximately 80,000 students in more than 85 countries have participated in the Access Program. The program is supported by the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section and has so far benefited 120 students in Bulawayo and Harare. The first such program in Zimbabwe started in 2012. Several of the graduates of this program, from the first cohort are now applying to attend university in the United States. – ZimPAS © April 13, 2016