English Access program students’ online Graduation Ceremony for 100 students was held at Gujranwala site managed by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) on Tuesday. The graduating students completed the U.S. Department of State funded two-year English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) at the Gujranwala site.
The U.S. Consulate General Lahore Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Kelly McCarthy virtually participated in the graduation ceremony from her office in Lahore. Congratulating students on what she described as reaching this milestone in their educational journeys, PAO Kelly McCarthy said, “we know that you put in many extra hours each week to attend classes, practice at home, and collaborate with your classmates. Thank you to your families for their support of your studies, too.”
She maintained, “I would like to give a special “Bohat Shukriya” to our implementing partner, the Allama Iqbal Open University Vice Chancellor Dr. Zia Ul-Qayyum, to Mr. Muhammad Behram Rasul Bakhsh, the Regional Director Gujranwala, Dr. Malik Ajmal Gulzar, Chairperson of the Department of English; Dr. Saira Maqbool, Access Program Manager, and Ms. Samina Rana, Access Coordinator. Thank you all, for your dedication to our shared goals.”
She noted that in the Punjab, the U.S. Mission to Pakistan has sponsored five English Access sites in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Der Ghazi Khan, and Multan. In these programs, our partners help young adults not only learn English, but also learn about the similarities and differences between Pakistani and U.S. culture, society, art, music, and traditions. The Access program is a platform for engagement between students, women entrepreneurs, different U.S. exchange programs alumni, emerging leaders in Pakistan, and U.S. diplomats, students, and experts, she added.
She continued that English language proficiency can open doors to more opportunities for young adults. It’s a pathway to higher education, to studying science, and conducting business on a national, regional, and global market level. It is one way to help build a stronger rapport with other countries around the globe. Perhaps most importantly, English Access teachers are trained to focus on developing the students’ leadership skills and critical thinking skills. These skills empower Pakistani youth to fully participate in the economic prosperity of Pakistan, she said.
She asserted that strong English skills are essential to take advantage of our many exchange programs offered through the Consulate such as Fulbright and Study of the U.S. Institute. “We are eager to see more Pakistanis take part in our people-to-people exchanges,” she said.
It may be noted that Access is a global State Department program that provides a foundation of English language skills to bright, economically disadvantaged students, primarily between the ages of 13 to 20, in their home countries. In addition to English language skills, the Access Program gives other skills that may lead to better jobs, educational prospects and the ability to apply for scholarships to study or to participate in the U.S. exchange programs. So far approximately 22,000 students have graduated from this program in Pakistan.
The AIOU has been managing Access Program in Gujranwala and Muzaffarabad (Azad Jamun & Kashmir), and English Works in Muzaffarabad. This Access program has been organized at the AIOU Regional Campus, Gujranwala for 100 students.