Date: February 16, 2016
Location: Marriott Hotel
Remarks as Prepared
Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here with you today to celebrate the beginning of your two-year English Access Microscholarship Program.
Thank you, Principal Waqar Ahmad Shaikh, and all those from Sir Syed Public School Rawalpindi who have been our great partners in the Access Program since 2007. And thank you to Ms. Shazia Rose, our master of ceremonies this afternoon. The Sir Syed Public School in Rawalpindi has a rich history dating back to 1956 and to the early days of Pakistan. Like you, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is committed to education and to investing in young people through programs like Access.
The Access Program was created to give young people like you the opportunity to develop excellent English language skills. English is the language of opportunity in the twenty-first century. English connects people. English is also critical to prepare you for higher education. English can open doors to study abroad, including in the United States. And speaking English is a skill that will help you in your future work life, no matter what job you choose.
Students, parents, and teachers talk about the Access Program as a family. Since 2004, Access has reached over 11,000 students in Pakistan. Currently there are nearly 3,000 Access students all across this country. That is a very large family you have now become a part of! During your two years in the Access Program, you will have the opportunity to connect with Access students in other parts of Pakistan. Through Access, you will certainly improve your English language skills, but Access is also an opportunity to learn about students’ lives in other parts of Pakistan and make new friends.
But this family is also a global family. Since 2004, Access has worked in over 85 countries with the support of the U.S. Department of State. Through Access you will learn more about the United States and the world. It is my pleasure to welcome you into the global Access family today.
This afternoon, I had the opportunity to meet five former Access students, including Syeda Urooj Haider, who you heard from just a few moments ago. These young people are all university students now and are active members of the Pakistan United States Alumni Network with a strong commitment to give back to the Access program and to their communities.
These bright young people can be models and mentors to all of you. In addition to English, the Access Program focuses on leadership, personal development, and community service. You are the future of your communities and of Pakistan. Meeting our alumni, and seeing you here now, shows me that the future is bright.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank all of our Access teachers. Your students are the leaders of tomorrow, and you play a valuable role in shaping their success.
Once again, congratulations on your achievements so far. You earned your place here through hard work, commitment, and the support of your families and teachers. I wish you much success in the Access Program and with your study of English.