ROTA, a core programme of the Education Above All (EAA) foundation, hosted an appreciation ceremony and dinner on Wednesday 15 March, at the Hamad bin Khalifa University Student Center to honour volunteers, and ‘Digital Champions’ of the Better Connections programme.
Launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, the Better Connections programme gives employers of migrant workers a practical framework for providing access to information and communication technology (ICT) tools. It is a phased initiative designed to enable labourers with little or no ICT skills to participate fully in Qatar’s digital society by ensuring they have access to and can benefit from ICTs and the Internet at their place of residence.
Moreover, the programme aims to enable volunteers and local companies to actively contribute to realising Qatar National Vision 2030, which seeks to build a knowledge-based economy. Since ROTA joined the Better Connections programme in April 2015, more than 180 volunteers from the local community have been trained to educate workers in various locations in Qatar. The volunteers have helped various companies in Qatar to set up computer rooms in their accommodation, and have also trained more than 1,000‘Digital Champions’ as part of the social development initiative. These ‘Digital Champions’ have been trained and empowered to help their peers improve their information and communication technology (ICT)knowledge and skills.
Ms. Noora Al Rumaihi, Communication and Public Relations Manager at Msheireb Properties said: “We at Msheireb Properties are proud to support this innovative initiative that aims to provide migrant workers in Qatar with vital information and communication technology (ICT) equipment and skills to improve their work conditions. Through this continuous partnership with Reach Out To Asia, we reiterate our commitment to accomplish progress in all sectors of social development, deliver solutions that overcome local challenges and make a lasting positive change to the people.”
ROTA’s role in the Better Connections programme is sponsored by Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation for Education Science and Community development. Msheireb’s mission is to change the way people think about urban living and improve their overall quality of life, through innovations that encourage social interaction, respect for culture and greater care for the environment. Microsoft Qatar and the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) are among other key partners in the programme.
During the appreciation ceremony, 135 volunteers and 600‘Digital Champions’ from 17 companies were awarded certificates of appreciation. The event was attended by Mr. Mohammed Al Naama, Acting Executive Director, ROTA, who delivered ROTA’s speech during the event and said,"The Better Connections programme of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs is one of the most successful projects ROTA has joined. It has enabled migrant workers in Qatar to keep in touch with their families back home and gain valuable ICT skills. As always, we are most grateful to our sponsor Msheireb Properties, the two ministries, RAF and Microsoft, but most of all to our volunteers and ‘Digital Champions’ for making this programme happen, and ensuring it continues to be such a great success."
An online survey conducted by ROTA revealed that ‘Digital Champions’ attending the training had significantly improved awareness of their rights and of safety measures (76% and 69% respectively). The results have also shown remarkable improvement in workers’ awareness on living in Qatar (45%), using ICTs for entertainment (44%), and using ICTs to communicate for work purposes (33%). A slight improvement (25.7%) has been reported in terms of improving capabilities in communicating with family and friends using ICT. The survey results have also shown that 79% of the workers selected to be ‘Digital Champions’ feel strongly confident in using ICT equipment, software and the internet. This percentage has increased to 92% after the training.
In 2015, The Better Connections programme won CSR Initiative of the Year at the Construction Week Awards Qatar.