Karachi: After the successful completion of the English Access Microscholarship Program 2019-21 by the Humanities Department of the NED Cowasjee School, the second cycle of the same programme commenced with the award of Access Program 2021-2023 by the Regional English Language Office (RELO) at the US Embassy, Islamabad.
The Access Microscholarship Program is a splendid educational opportunity for school children aged 12-15 from government and non-elite schools, and belonging to underserved communities to develop their English language and soft skills through a two-year after-school learning programme.
Presently, 300 students have been registered under the second NED Access Program. The opening ceremony of this programme was held recently at the NED University, City Campus, Karachi, graced by the presence of honorary guests from the US Consulate and the senior administration of the NED University of Engineering & Technology.
Amy Christianson, Public Affairs Officer, and Aisha Amanullah, English Programs Manager at the consulate, were received by the programme implementer, Prof Dr Sajida Zaki, Chairperson, Humanities Department, and Prof Dr Noman Ahmed (TI), Dean of the Faculty of Information Science & Humanities. NED University Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Tufail presided over the inaugural ceremony.
The auditorium at the City Campus was decorated in festive posters and brimming with students’ excitement as they participated in a post-pandemic physical event, which provided a platform for them to present their literary and creative sides as they assembled under the Access education programme.
The opening ceremony showcased the progress of the NED Access students and many of the skills that they have acquired during their introductory learning module. The ceremony formally began with the recitation of a few verses from the Holy Quran and its translation by Access students, followed by a virtual tour of the Access journey in the last three months.
During this time, alongside developing confidence and language proficiency, the students participated in events that celebrated days such as Pakistan Resolution Day, Black History Month, Zero Discrimination Day and International Women’s Day.
In her welcome note, Dr Sajida spoke about the NED University’s legacy of contributing to public education, community development and outreach initiatives that have remained the core values since 1921, when the university was founded at the very same place where the ceremony was taking place.
She acknowledged the Access Microscholarship Program aligning with the university’s commitment of incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals in all its programmes, research and outreach activities. The RELO-sponsored Access Microscholarship Program not only focuses on developing students’ language and soft skills but also promotes critical thinking, democratic ideals, digital literacy and global citizenship, she said.
The bulk of the opening ceremony was taken up by ‘Mind Your Language’, an act performed by Access students, who walked the auditorium grounds in celebration of the efforts they have been putting in for the past month.
The act was followed by some eloquent welcome messages that conveyed the goodwill sentiments harbouring in the hearts of the students. The students acknowledged the provision of the Access opportunity enthusiastically through their speeches.
Amy interacted with the students by moderating a Spelling Bee Competition as Master Speller and judge. She later distributed the Certificate of Award among the students who were registered and carefully screened for the award of Access scholarship against the prescribed eligibility criteria of the programme.
In her speech, she appreciated the young performers and highlighted the benefits the programme will have for them now and in the future. She cheerfully remarked that because of the Access programme and the amazing efforts of the teachers involved, the students will be future leaders.
Dr Tufail presented souvenirs to the US Consulate officials. “NED University is a higher education institution, but it has always wished to contribute to secondary education, and luckily, with the support of the US Consulate and the RELO, we have managed to initiate such a programme that allows us to support secondary school learners,” he said.
The ceremony concluded with the vote of thanks by Dr Ahmed, who acknowledged the US Consulate officials for the Access opportunity that will surely benefit the students, and hoped that the Access students can become a part of prestigious institutions such as the NED University in the future.