English Access Microscholarship Program

The U.S. State Department’s English Access Microscholarship Program (Access Program) provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13 to 20-year-old youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds through a two-year program of after school classes and intensive sessions. The program helps participants to develop English language skills that lead to better jobs and educational prospects. Since its inception in 2004, over 205,000 students in more than 80 countries have participated in the Access Program, including more than 1,500 in Cambodia.

Access Program in Cambodia:

The English Access Microscholarship Program in Cambodia seeks to support Cambodians from economically disadvantaged communities who have limited access to opportunities to further their educational development, particularly in the area of English language training.  The program aims to increase participants’ English language skills through general English courses for a period of two years or a minimum of 360 hours.  Since 2004, more than 1, 500 Cambodian students have participated in this program, with a total funding of more than 1.7 million U.S. dollar.

This two-year language training builds the English capabilities of students as well as their communication skills in order to enable them to find appropriate jobs in their communities and to earn a sufficient living for themselves and their families.  In addition, they may ultimately be able to qualify for other U.S. Government sponsored training opportunities such as undergraduate exchange programs, Fulbright scholarships, and the International Visitor Leadership Program.

Currently, 140 Cambodian students are studying English through the Access Program in Kampot, Battambang, Prev Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, and Siem Reap.

The program has been a resounding success for the past 18 years and has inspired a majority of its participants to pursue advanced degrees, tutor their fellow classmates in English, work as reporters at local radio stations, become interpreters and translators to increase organizational communication with foreign counterparts, and aspire toward higher positions in the private sector.  The program’s completion rate is generally more than 90%.

Pisey’s Story


Pisey from Ratanakiri graduated from the Access Program and secured a scholarship to finish high school in Norway. She then applied for and received a full scholarship to study English literature at Methodist University in North Carolina. Pisey hopes to become an English teacher and to be able share all her knowledge and experience with talented and disadvantaged students like herself. Pisey is the very first member of her tribe to study in the United States!

Testimonials from Students

“The Access Program has changed me from a silent girl to the one who is never afraid to talk to new people, learn new things, and to give back to society”.

Teyaorm, Kampong Cham (and alumnus of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program)

“After two years of participating in the Access Program, I have improved both my interpersonal development and communication skills.”

Choeun, Ratanakiri (and alumnus of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program)

“By using my English, I passed the test and got one of twenty scholarship from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.”

Alfin, Kampong Cham (and alumnus of the U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center Election Reporting Tour)