By Rahi Bhattacharya, Kolkata, May 7 IBNS | 2 years ago

The second edition of the US government funded, two-year English Access Micro-Scholarship Program marked its completion with a graduating ceremony at the American Center here on Monday.

Present on the occasion were Acting US Consul General, U.S. Consulate Kolkata, Jeffrey Reneau, Deputy Director of American Center, Rachel Sunden and visiting Regional English Language Officer of the US Department of State, Diane Millar.

Inaugurated in the year 2009, by former US Ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, the English Access Micro-Scholarship Program runs across the country, and enrolls approximately 1000 students every year.

"The objective," said Millar, who manages the English language programs in India, Afghanistan and Bhutan, "is to provide English language skills to economically disadvantaged students, throughout the world, through a two-year after-school program that involves 360 hours of classes."

She said that the program has been running since 2003, across 70 countries, and have had about 70,000 graduates, worldwide.

While in India alone, the program has 16 different centres, in partnership with local organizations.

The program in Kolkata, was managed by Anwar Premi of Sir Syed Group of Schools, Khidderpore, catering to 110 registered students.

The school involves its students in outdoor programs, like 'Toastmaster Workshop', observing 'Republic Day' and 'World Environment Day', besides the regular class activities.

Up until now the program was open to students between 13 and 18 year old, which is now being expanded to 12 to 21 years old.

"We want our partner organization to have a relationship with the families, because, let's say a student doesn't come to class for two months, we want our partner to be able to go the family and say,'Is there a problem? Can we help?' We want to support a local partner who is already doing work in that area," said Millar.

Rachel Sunden encouraged the graduating batch to continue visiting the library and practicing their English.

Speaking on the success of the program, Jeffery Reneau, said, "The true measure of success is, sometimes when we're speaking we don't know when to stop. When I met you (the students) a year-and-a-half back, we couldn't get you to say four sentences. Now, we can't get you away from the podium."

Called to the dais to share their experiences, three students - Mukhesh Singh, Rizwana and Akash Prasad - echoed similar sentiments of gratitude towards the program and its contributing factors.

The graduating 110 students were handed certificates by Diane Millar and Rachel Sunden.

(Posted on 07-05-2013)