Every year between the months of April and May, ALTA runs a six week training course for potential tutors. The training course is known to be intense but extremely beneficial for prospective tutors, readying them almost completely for the ALTA classroom. The theoretical aspect of the training is completed in six sessions but the practical aspect is completed over one academic year in ALTA classrooms around the country. At the end of this, the trainee is certified as an ALTA tutor. This year’s training course started on 25 April with 95 participants. Eighty-six of them successfully completed the sessions, 44 at Belmont, 24 in South and 18 in Arima. Of the nine individuals who failed to complete the training, seven were from the Arima training venue and two from south. For the first time, South Trinidad has exceeded Arima in trained tutors.
This was also the first time that training in Arima was managed by National Coordinator, Lystra Hazarie ably assisted by Regional Coordinator, Lilian Ramsaroop and Office Manager, Carolyn Walker–Hepburn. All course materials were organized by Carolyn under the guidance of ALTA’s Programme Manager, Joanne Phillip. This decentralization resulted in CEO, Paula Lucie Smith and Lystra being in attendance at two training courses as opposed to all three. Both of them were in attendance at Belmont, Lystra at Arima and Paula at South. We look forward to further decentralization when the course facilitators in South gain the necessary expertise.
Five new facilitators were added to the training team and five tutors were also selected to attend the training course as prospective class coordinators. Facilitators once again undertook more presentation of the training skills previously done by Lystra and Paula. This process promises well for Paula’s succession planning.
The large majority of the feedback received from participants was positive, see some of it below!
“I was amazed at how much I did not know despite having good CSEC English grades”
“Never a boring session, very interactive and all lessons were taught differently which kept me interested”
“I did not realise that I would learn so many new reading and writing skills and techniques”
“Extremely enlightening – [it was a lesson in] going back to the basics and turning off the ‘automatic’.”
“This was a wow experience. I am just sorry I did not do this course earlier in life”
On Saturday April 1, 2017 ALTA’s staff, some of our Board members and Regional Coordinators who manage ALTA’s programmes and classes around the country, were treated to a Strategic Planning Workshop.
The workshop was facilitated pro bono by Marshall Ogle, Ravi Rampersad and Salaina Jagroop of Deloitte and Touche – one of Trinidad’s largest professional services firms. The firm’s focus is to help clients navigate their business challenges and achieve success. ALTA was taken through an extensive and thorough workshop which looked at how ALTA intends to compete with the resources available in the existing and perceived future environment.
ALTA prides itself on good governance and strong foresight and took the decision to implement a strategic plan which would provide a framework and clear direction for decision-making, establish a vision which is shared among all members of the Association and which we hope will result in an increased level of commitment to ALTA, as well as better services for those who matter most – our students.
Both ALTA’s Vision and Mission Statements were examined and modified by members to ensure that they were in line with what ALTA wants to become. Additionally, both an external analysis on ALTA’s performance from a key stakeholder perspective and a comparison of performances of other entities like ALTA around the world were carried out. ALTA’s CEO, Paula Lucie Smith also presented an internal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on behalf of the Association.
Afterward, we were challenged to come up with strategic objectives which would take us beyond our current resources and capabilities. This was a bit daunting as we do quite a lot at ALTA and attempting to decide on four objectives which would guide the work of the organization for the next couple years took a lot of brainstorming and debating. Nevertheless we were able to complete this, which led us to our strategies that will be implemented in order to achieve these objectives.
The session was quite enjoyable, well facilitated and undoubtedly important to the continued success of ALTA. We are extremely grateful to Deloitte and Touche for conducting a workshop which has led to a solid strategic plan for the Adult Literacy Tutors Association.
Did you know that there are approximately three thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Trinidad and Tobago? The work that is done by the NGO sector is important due to the host of social issues which plague the country. From sexual violence and poor literacy to treatment of the differently abled and stigma against mentally ill people, most NGOs work extremely hard with little to no resources, tackling a plethora of issues.
For the past five years the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust has invested in the development of the local NGO sector. One way in which they have done this is by hosting capacity building workshops specifically for NGOs, which increase the efficiency and effectiveness of those in attendance. This in turn strengthens the NGO sector and increases the likelihood of sustainability. This year was no different and eighty local NGOs were given the opportunity to learn and network at the 2017 NGO Professionals Seminar, which focused on Social Entrepreneurship for NGOs.
The event which was organised by the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business was well attended and enjoyed. While the focus was on social entrepreneurship, there were other workshops on social media marketing for NGOs, finance and accounting, brand storytelling and grant proposal writing. All workshops were delivered by experienced professionals who were eager to share and not only inspired those in attendance, but gave practical ideas which NGOs could use to increase their online presence, effectively tell their stories, practice transparency and accountability and write clear, detailed and persuasive proposals.
The main address on social entrepreneurship was delivered by Tanushree Luthra of Nourish TT, a local non-profit which aims to alleviate hunger and reduce food wastage in Trinidad and Tobago. She defined social entrepreneurship as the confluence of the ‘good’ intentions of charitable work and the ‘smarts’ of the corporate world. As ALTA Online is ALTA’s first attempt at the ‘fee for service’ model of social entrepreneurship, the ALTA team learned quite a bit at the workshop. The fee for service model entails a social enterprise, in this case, ALTA, selling a product or service (ALTA Online) directly to the public market.
Those present were also treated to an address by Mrs Nichola Harvey-Mitchell of the We Say Y.E.S. Organization, who spoke of the journey she took when starting her NGO. She touched on some extremely important lessons for NGOs, from using a corporate approach to run daily activities, to the need for structure and accountability to ensure transparency, sustainability and efficiency.
Every year at the workshop, the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust also presents an award for NGO Excellence. In 2014, ALTA was the recipient of the award. This year the Caribbean Kids and Families Therapies Organization (CKFTO) was awarded for their stellar work in the provision of therapy and support services to all children in need.
The 2017 workshop was an overall success and ALTA is extremely grateful to have once again benefitted from the investment that the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust makes in the development of the local NGO sector.
Many tutors come to ALTA with the intention of trying something new or giving back to the community for a year or two and end up spending quite some time in our classrooms. Many go above and beyond the call of duty and become coordinators, trainers and facilitators and get involved with countless projects from our marketing campaigns to ALTA Online. We’re taking this opportunity to thank all our long standing tutors, especially those who continue to give most of their time to ALTA. We value you. This year we say goodbye to two longstanding tutors : Deborah O’Neil and Shirley Farah who have both gone above and beyond for ALTA over the years, you will be missed.
Trained: May 1999 – Taught Levels 1-3
Last class taught: Level 3 in academic year 2009-2010
Joined Reading Circle in academic year 2011-2012 and continued until 2017.
Trained: April 2006 – Taught Levels 1-3 and Spelling Programme
Last class taught: Spelling programme 2017
Other roles: Coordinator, Training Facilitator, Presenter, Work Place Tutor, Workplace Project Manager
Our Central Regional Coordinator Cheryl Thurab Prince wrote a bit on Deborah’s contribution to ALTA:
On July 7th ALTA bids farewell to our colleague Deborah O’Neil who retires after 11 years of dedicated volunteer work. Deborah joined ALTA in 2006 to honour her best friend’s memory, an ALTA tutor who died suddenly. Deborah also wanted to give something back to society, but realized that in doing so, she also got great personal satisfaction. To quote Deborah,”it’s not about what I give to ALTA, it’s about what I GET out of it.” She firmly believes that literacy plays a great part in keeping crime levels down and was determined to play her part in improving literacy in the country. She began teaching the Level 1 class at Chaguanas Junior Secondary and spent eleven years with ALTA, teaching levels 2, 3 and the Spelling Programme at various venues in Chaguanas. She has also taught the ALTA programme at Union Claxton Bay Secondary School, Desalcott and most recently JSL International (Trinidad) Limited. Deborah will certainly be missed by her colleagues and students. ALTA would like to thank her for her commitment to the organization and wish her all the best in the future.
Since 2013, United Way Trinidad and Tobago’s (UWTT) National Day of Caring initiative has challenged companies around the country to create a spirit of volunteerism among their employees. The objective is to encourage companies to give back to and impact change in communities around the country. All companies in T&T are invited to participate and projects implemented have ranged from the cleaning and repair of schools to environmental clean-ups.
This year, ALTA benefitted from adoption by Republic Bank Limited for the day. ALTA runs a free National Adult Literacy Programme, teaching 1,500 students at more than 49 classes at 44 venues annually. The NGO liaises with 267 active volunteer tutors; meets with 40 coordinators; holds weekly classes in its on-site training room plus 2 large annual meetings and other small meetings year-round. With continued expansion, it is essential that ALTA keeps the three office buildings in Belmont, Arima and San Fernando in good repair. It is also important to increase storage areas, and provide adequate furniture for human resource capacity in order to be effective in catering to students and volunteer tutors throughout Trinidad.
As ALTA’s work in the communities is free of charge, there is no income generation and so the aforementioned needs are often postponed. Fortunately this year Republic Bank came to the rescue! Employees from the bank sourced sponsored paint from Berger Paints and completed the interior painting of ALTA’s Belmont training room – which also acts as a classroom and meeting room- as well as the San Fernando office space. They also removed the old carpeting at the South office and installed new carpets and blinds.
In the coming weeks Republic Bank will donate an All-in-One Desktop computer to ALTA’s Belmont office as well as a storage cabinet and office chair to the San Fernando office. The Arima office will also be furnished with a metal shelving unit, one office chair and an air-conditioning unit.
ALTA’s Resource Development Officer, M’aisha Thomas said “the 2017 Day of Caring was very successful. Republic Bank went over and beyond, bending over backward to ensure everything was ready for the day. We were also extremely grateful that they were willing to have the day of caring last longer than one day, as there were some elements which – by no fault of theirs – could not be completed on the day. As always, ALTA is truly grateful to RBL for continuously supporting literacy and ensuring that ALTA can continue to operate efficiently and effectively.”
Thank you United Way Trinidad and Tobago for encouraging a true spirit of volunteerism among companies in T&T and Republic Bank for brightening up ALTA’s office spaces and helping ALTA continue to empower adults through literacy.