The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access Program) is an exciting initiative of the U.S. Department of State. This highly effective training program is designed to provide a significant English-language learning experience to bright non-elite 13 years to 20 years for the present program. It also has the goal of improving students’ appreciation of U.S. culture and values, encouraging critical thinking and open-mindedness, and improving performance in regular school classes. In KISS, the program provides a foundation of English language skills to 550 talented indigenous students. Three programs from 2009-2012, 2011-2013, 2013-2015-2016 have been and being implemented by KISS.
US Embassy sponsored “English Access Microscholarship Program” was launched in Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) on 1st December 2009. The programme was formally inaugurated by His Excellency Sri Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, Hon’ble Governor of Orissa. The other dignitaries present on dais were Shri Prasanna Acharya, Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Public Grievance & Pension Administration, Orissa, Ms. Beth A. Payne, US Consul General, Kolkata, Dr. A. Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS and Mrs. Saswati Bal, President of KISS. Likewise a second Access program was started in February 2011 at KISS. The third program has been sanctioned for the year 2013-2015.
A new chapter was written in the Indo-US relationship with the visit of His Excellency, The US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer to Odisha. He was on a visit to KISS and KIIT University on 7th April 2010, the first visit of an American Ambassador to Orissa in 12 years. Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) provides education to the underprivileged and opportunity to them to be what they want to be, said Mr.Timothy J. Roemer, His Excellency the U.S. Ambassador to India. Inaugurating English Access Language Laboratory at KISS, he said that the Program builds proficiency of English among the learners, thus, opening floodgates of opportunities before them. Further, it imparts shared American-Indian values of democracy and tolerance, he elaborated, adding that one of the key deliverables of this Program is that it would lead to jobs. Many dignitaries from US Embassy have visited KISS. Joëlle Uzarski, Director of the Regional English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi visited KISS on 9th and 10th December, 2010. She interacted with the teachers and students of English Access Microscholarship Program. During her visit, on 10th of December 2010, the students performed ‘youth Assembly’ in English. The youth Assembly won accolades from both the diplomat and the audience. In similar fashion U.S Consul General Katherine.S.Dhanani also visited KISS on 5th January 2011. Students also presented skit and songs before the Honorable US Ambassador to India Mr. Peter Burleigh who visited KISS on January 20, 2012. In similar fashion U.S Consul General Katherine.S.Dhanani, Hyderabad also visited KISS on 5th January 2011 and interacted with English Access students. Ms. Reta Jo Lewis, Special Representative, Global Intergovernmental Affairs, U S Department of State also visited KISS and interacted with Access students. Her Excellency Ambassador Nancy J. Powell, US Ambassador to India visited Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences on 15th January 2013. She visited the Access Center and distributed the program completion certificates to the students. She inaugurated Center for American Studies at KISS. She showed her happiness to have visited KISS and also talked about stronger India-US relations in the present era.
Several innovative teaching aids have been prepared to motivate the students to shed off their fear and learn the language. The Access Program has also helped build their personality. The framework adopted includes oral-aural, learner-centered and activity-based approach. The activities undertaken to fulfill the aim include project work, activities that promote reading with comprehension, quiz, role-play, skits, dialogue, dramatization, discussion, debate, language games, simulating, real life situation, using newspaper clipping, multimedia, using internet, movies, music, riddles and puzzles, pair work and group work. Enhancement activities in the form of exposure visits to shopping Malls, Planetarium, Nandankanan Zoo, Tribal Museum etc are also adopted.
Tribal children are the most marginalized as compared to others. They have to learn their own language, language of the state, national language and English language for higher education. Tribal Access students have not only been able to communicate but also have performed in English Plays, Skit, Songs, Mock Assembly, Anchoring when national and international dignitaries visit KISS which include Academicians, Corporate leaders, Writers, Activists, Legislators, Magsaysay award winners, Diplomats from various countries including United States of America etc. They also shared their feelings after being enrolled in Access Program and how it has changed his/her life. This had a spill-over effect in raising the performance in their regular academic activity. Many of our English Access tribal students have been successful in joining specialized higher education like Law, Engineering(B.Tech), Medicine(MBBS), Diploma in various engineering trades and Social Sciences. It is unprecedented in the tribal history that the benefit of Access program has touched students even from Tribes consequentially acquiring higher studies which needs a high degree of English proficiency. Largely Access Program in KISS has curbed the further alienation and has contributed to mainstreaming of Tribal children.