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English Access Microscholarship Program

English Access Microscholarship Program launch

On June 4, 2013 the United States Consulate in Durban partnered with non-profit organization Talk English and the Zwelibanzi High School in Umlazi to launch the English Access Micro Scholarship Program (ACCESS). Teachers and family members cheered the ninth grade students who successfully competed for the coveted spots and received certificates marking the start of their journey. The English Access Micro Scholarship Program provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-20 year olds through after-school classes and intensive summer sessions. Access gives participants English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects.

Located in Umlazi Township South of Durban, Zwelibanzi was called ‘South Africa’s best high school’ by University of Free State vice-chancellor, Jonathan Jansen in a column in The Times newspaper in 2011and has a high matric pass rate. The U.S. Consulate in Durban has partnered with Zwelibanzi in the past, the most recent program being a visit from University of California at Berkeley as part of the launch of the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Program.

Representatives of the United States Diplomatic Mission to South Africa from Durban and Pretoria joined together to celebrate the launch and to provide books and materials for the program’s success. ACCESS is an integral part of the Regional English Language Office which includes teaching exchange programs. Books such as the Mzansi Journal written and designed by former ACCESS students, information about President Barack Obama, and many others are part of the program’s new library of materials. Principal of Zwelibanzi High School Mr. Sibusiso Maseko was presented with a signed copy of Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian as a token of esteem and gratitude from the United States Consulate in Durban.

The ceremony included a welcome from Zwelibanzi Principal Mr. Maseko and words of inspiration from the U.S. Diplomatic Mission and partners and performances by the students. The students were encouraged to seize this opportunity to improve their English skills as one of many tools in their toolbox of success. They were told to learn about other cultures while respecting and appreciating their own cultures, and remaining grateful to their families, communities, and educators who are helping them up the ladder of achievement.

The English Access Micro Scholarship Program started as a world-wide program in 2004. Currently there are more than 95,000 students throughout 85 countries that are participating in learning the English language through this program. ACCESS was launched in South Africa in 2007 and was first launched in the province of KwaZulu Natal in 2010 at the Chatsworth Education Center. Students from all over South Africa have embraced the ACCESS program and have enjoyed and benefitted from the journey. From Chatsworth to Atteridgeville to Kayamandi and more, ACCESS has made an impact on students throughout South Africa. There are 360 students participating in the ACCESS program nationwide and we are pleased that students from Zwelibanzi have joined their numbers.