Posted on May 09, 2018

Education Above All (EAA) Foundation’s programme, Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), held a reflection eventon Tuesday, April 17 at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Center, to recognise the outstanding achievements of low-skilled workers and volunteer student tutors who participated in Adult English Literacy Program (RAEL) and ROTA Adult Arabic Literacy Programme (RAAL).

ROTA’s learning initiative was conducted in collaboration with selected Universities to enable workers to achieve personal goals and improve life opportunities, far from their daily duties. During adult literacy programmes reflection event at the Qatar Academy Education City, students and migrant workers were felicitated with certificates for participating in the 2017/2018 Rota Adult English Literacy Program (RAEL) and ROTA Adult Arabic Literacy Programme (RAAL).

To prepare the student volunteers to become trainers, Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), held a training workshop for student volunteers for its Adult English Literacy Program (RAEL) in September until December 2017 and from January till April 2018, and ROTA Adult Arabic Literacy Programme (RAAL) on February until April 2018, respectively at the student center, Education City, Qatar Foundation. A total of 100 student volunteers from Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon Universities, Weill Cornell Medical College, Academic Bridge, English Language Program in HBKU Student Housing, light rail transit system (LRT) a project of Qatari Diar Vinci Construction (QDVC) and Doha Metro Red Line South, taught basic and intermediate level English classes to the workers employed in the universities within education city.

For ROTA Adult Arabic Literacy Programme (RAAL), a total of 18 student volunteers from the Academic Bridge Program, the Education City Mosque and Qatar University took part in the training course, designed to equip volunteer tutors with the necessary skills to effectively facilitate the RAAL initiative. The workshop covered a range of topics, including ROTA’s literacy curriculum, practical information relating to teaching Arabic, issues facing low-income migrant workers, methods to effectively facilitate adult learning, and community-based learning tools. 

The (RAAL) programme is a result of a survey carried out by ROTA, which suggested that 55 percent of low-skilled workers did not possess Arabic literacy skills, while 45 percent of workers appeared to have a fair degree of spoken Arabic with no reading or writing skills. The Arabic literacy program was established to address the learning needs of migrant workers in Qatar and to promote mutual respect between different cultures. After completing the course, migrant workers are able now to speak conversational Arabic and have a greater understanding of Arab culture and Qatari society.

“The ROTA Adult Literacy Programme is a means of supporting workers to enhance their ability to achieve personal goals and improve life opportunities. We hope that by participating in the literacy programmes, participants will develop higher aspirations and an increased sense of wellbeing and empowerment,” said ROTA Executive Director Mr. Essa Al Mannai. “I am convinced that the RAEL and RAAL programme will provide both an educational opportunity for workers who may have had limited schooling in their own countries, and a valuable service learning opportunity for that gives students and volunteers new skills and an understanding of different communities and their needs,” added Mr. Al Mannai.

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In 2009, ROTA’s Adult English Literacy program (RAEL) was created to develop the English literacy and language abilities of Qatar’s low-skilled migrant workers. The program trains volunteers, mainly students, to become literacy trainers, who go on to deliver an English Literacy course to low-skilled migrant workers using ROTA’s custom-designed English Literacy curriculum. The course is designed to help workers improve their English language skills as a means of enhancing their ability to achieve personal goals and improve life opportunities. Part of this programme runs as a service-learning initiative in collaboration with local universities, in which university students are given the opportunity to directly interact with and serve workers within their institutions through their involvement as trainers and resource volunteers on the course.

A key feature of the programme is that it offers opportunities for young people in Qatar to take part in an experiential service learning journey, developing their skills and knowledge as (RAEL) Literacy Trainers and Champions. Prior to becoming trainers, the volunteers are given training program. The training covers practical information relating to teaching English language. At the end of the training, Literacy Trainers are given a personal copy of the RAEL curriculum. By joining hands with local universities and colleges, ROTA programme is creating new opportunities that will improve the lives of many people in the quest for a more equal society, and thereby make a difference. The RAEL program is among the many community projects that ROTA does to develop the skills of youth to educate, empower and enable young people to make a positive, long lasting contribution to their communities.

During the training, student volunteers were familiarized with the objectives and expectations of the project, increase their understanding on the needs and their social circumstances and enable the trainers to understand the curriculum content as well as learn how to use it effectively. In addition, the training provided an opportunity for trainers to learn and practice different adult teaching methods, techniques and approaches and also to have an understanding regarding the requirements for course assessments and monitoring the effective delivery of the project. “Teaching workers was a very satisfying, learning and fruitful experience, as I can proudly hold my head high and say, “I have been a part of a program that will successfully bring about a positive transformation in the lives of many workers. I am delighted to help these workers improve communication skills, which I believe will surely increase their competitiveness,” said Zahra Ibrahim, one of the student volunteers from ABP .

Karunakaran Sinhathamby, a learner attending the classes, said that he didn’t know the English alphabet before he joined the programme.  “I could not read, write or speak English before but, after attending English classes regularly, my English improved a lot and I now feel better about my growth personally and professionally. I would like to thank ROTA for making a difference in our lives,” Karunakaran Sinhathamby said from CMUQ. ROTA is a programme of the Education Above All Foundation. Education Above All Foundation envisions inclusive and equitable quality education for vulnerable and marginalized people in the developing world. Empowering youth in Qatar and the region to make positive change in their communities and globally compliments ROTA’s focus on empowering youth to become active members of their communities.