The Impact of Access Program in Nepal
Bharat Babu Khanal
“Tell me, I forget; show me, I may remember and involve me, I learn.’’
Collaboratively run by the American Embassy/U.S. Department of State and NELTA, English Access Microscholarship Program has a short history in Nepal but it has become a truly effective means in the field of language learning as well as personality development. I feel proud to be a part of Access Program which has enhanced my own professional career as an English language teacher. Now I realize myself to be a modern teacher. It is obliviously an appropriate platform for my professional development. We teachers get various opportunities to E-Teacher Online Course Programs from the various American universities, participating different national and international teacher conferences. Last year I successfully completed the course Teaching English to Teenagers (TET) from the University of Maryland which has provided me extra stamina to do better in the Access class. Currently, I have applied for another E-teacher Online Course named “Teacher’s Professional Development on Critical Thinking”. Likewise the Access Program provides us with various trainings from ELT experts. We instantly apply the ideas, activities and techniques in our classroom. Immediately after every end semester result, we have meeting with the parents. It helps them get actual information about their children’s performance in the class and achievement in the exam.
The Access Program officially started in Nepal in 2011 with 120 students and 12 teachers. Now it has expanded to 280 students and 28 teachers. The program is limited only in four districts with five different sites in Nepal but it has an ample horizon to be extended throughout the country. As it is a micro scholarship program for two years, students get free opportunity to develop English language, Nepalese and American culture and leadership development in a group of twenty. The prime objective of this program is to empower under privileged children studying in community schools of Nepal. Wherever the program is launched the particular NELTA branch of that district is responsible for making the program successful with regular monitoring and supervision. NELTA central office gives full ownership to that particular branch.
Within a short span of time, Access class has proved to be the appropriate avenue for the students to develop their English in a real life situation. Unlike their regular school English class, students feel distinct in the Access class as they practically learn things here in group and pair activities. As an Access teacher, I feel proud to work with young and enthusiastic learners in the class. There is no rigorous teaching of a language but the program focuses on creating a suitable environment to flourish their talent through English language. As community school students in Nepal do not have enough exposures to develop their English language, Access Program has taken a genuine step to quench their thirst. In the Access class, what we teach is not prominent but what students achieve is paramount. Students learn English language through various language games. They develop their communication skills doing works and working on computers. Similarly, they watch movies or play outdoor games. They also visit some interesting places like American Embassy, USEF, zoo, temples, mosques and other historically significant places. They participate in public awareness program like Human Rights Day rally, Clean Nepal Campaign, traffic management, etc. This sort of program obviously gives positive message to the locals of the concerned areas. Simultaneously, students become more responsible to the society rather than only to individual life.
The success of Access has to do with the fact that the American Embassy and NELTA work closely together. The prominent aspect of this program is that distinguished guests from the Embassy visit our program and share their feelings with teachers and students. NELTA central committee members and English Language Fellows visit our classes and inspire us to successfully achieve our goals. The Access Country Coordinator’s role is vital to implement to program smoothly in Nepal including receiving and submitting reports by the due dates. The attraction of the program is the participation of guests in American and Nepalese festivities. Students celebrate Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, Independence Day, Teej, Teachers’ Day and other important days in both cultures. It has proved that language learning takes place in natural settings. Book review is the regular activity of this class which encourages students to read new books purposefully. Drawing, painting and designing cards have developed our students’ art skills. Report writing is an inevitable part of Access class after participation in new programs. It has helped them to present their report confidently on particular topic. I realize our students are getting better opportunity to experience a disciplined and responsible life through this program. A true education brings about a child’s behavioral change; also learning is for all round development of a child.
Indeed Access Program has become very effective medium to open a new horizon to Nepalese students for learning English language in real life situation. I hope it will be promoted and extended in more districts of the country. As our students have got this language learning opportunity, they will be able to grab various opportunities in future. In the globalized context, undoubtedly, they will be able to proceed confidently to meet their academic and personal goals in life.