ALTA Chairman’s Report

i Mar 27th No Comments by

Have a read of ALTA’s annual report which was presented to the membership at the annual general meeting in October 2017. As ALTA celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks toward the next twenty five years, energy has been focussed on these three areas:


  1. Spreading awareness of the ALTA programme
  2. Developing ALTA Online to reach those who can’t attend classes
  3. Strategic planning

In order to spread awareness of the programme and ensure that the messages being spread are deemed as important, ALTA felt it important that the organisation remain relevant in the minds of the public. An important step in remaining relevant is establishing and maintaining a strong brand presence. All the advice received said that ALTA’s logo needed to be updated. The black and white logo served well in the largely print medium of the first 25 years, but doesn’t work as well on the screens of phones, tablets and computers. After much discussion and varied design ideas, it was Keya Marketing who came up with a logo. The logo is meant to reflect youth, vitality, relationship building, transformation and social movement.

Additionally, given economic constraints, it was important that ALTA find cost effective ways to advertise tutor recruitment, student registration and promote awareness of ALTA. This led to a stronger focus on social media networks. Putting content on social media has little impact unless you have the network to read and spread this. Building this network has been the big success of the last year. Over the past year, ALTA’s Communication Manager has created content which has caught people’s interest and gained followers in the crowded social media world.

ALTA has almost tripled the number of followers on Facebook going from 2500 followers last year to 6300 followers currently. This means that information about ALTA is more likely to be seen by persons in T&T and the diaspora without ALTA paying for them to see it. ALTA has also used Twitter to reach out to partners and other NGOs to advertise programmes, donation and volunteering opportunities and create linkages to maximize reach. In the past year ALTA has gained 84 new followers. Instagram has also been used to share current happenings at ALTA – in the past year the following on Instagram has also increased.

ALTA’s strategic networking online has not wavered offline networking.  A strong relationship with Movie Towne has resulted in the student recruitment ad being played in their cinemas for more than a year and Caribbean Cinemas 8 supported the recently concluded Student Registration campaign by playing advertisements in their cinemas gratis in August 2017. ALTA is greatly appreciative of the role both the Citizen Security Programme and Pepper Advertising played in the creation and dissemination of communication material.  The new relationship with Digicel Foundation will also enable the production and sharing of vital communication material with larger more diverse audiences in the coming months.

Additionally, this year ALTA continued with the aim of year-round student outreach. Regional Coordinators took up the challenge to conduct at least two instances of outreach in their regions every month. ALTA Ambassadors along with Regional Coordinators conducted numerous instances of Outreach at health centres, schools, workplaces, community meetings, youth groups and churches. If you know of any community event which ALTA can attend and spread awareness of the programme, please do not hesitate to contact any ALTA office.

Every year ALTA conducts two campaigns; student recruitment and tutor recruitment. In order to stay relevant and minimalize cost, this year ALTA took the decision to focus communication messages on radio and social media and didn’t have print ads. This resulted in successful and cost effective Tutor Recruitment and Student Registration campaigns in the past year. The Student Registration campaign themed “Live Your Best Life with ALTA” used radio scripts from 2016 (funded by CSP) as well as ALTA Ambassador John Bascombe, an ALTA Graduate who is currently enrolled in law school.

Preliminary figures for this academic year indicate that 1,451 students are attending classes, 641 of whom are new students. This figure exceeds the 1,179 as of this period last year and 1,142 of 2015. ALTA continues to accept students into classes with available space, via phone or walk-ins. This shows that as much as ALTA continues to battle stigma, the number of students making the decision to come to the community classes is still growing.

The continued support of the fifty ALTA classes around the country comes from ALTA’s class sponsors for 2016/17 – Republic Bank, United Way of Trinidad and Tobago, The National Gas Company of T&T, Price Philanthropies Foundation, Phoenix Park Gas Processors, First Caribbean International Bank, Kapok  and Mr. Hamilton Padmore.

Unfortunately this year ALTA’s Cascade class was discontinued because of the repeated small student numbers.  In 1994, the St Ann’s/Cascade Motivational Programme became the second venue to host an ALTA class. ALTA thanks Noreen De La Rosa, board member of this centre, for not only providing this venue for 20 plus years but for also teaching and coordinating this class.

Aside from community classes where students focus on their literacy, ALTA also provides a Spelling Programme for students who wish to focus on this aspect of their literacy growth. This programme continues its steady growth for yet another year with the Port of Spain venue having the largest number with well over 40 students.  The demand was so great that past tutors had to be called back to active duty.

Last year, ALTA was able to successfully restart the programme in Grenada. Fortunately classes continue there with students completing their first academic year in early December followed by the recruitment of new students by the end of the year.  Their new academic year will thus begin in January 2018.

With over fifty classes around the country, it is important to have a clear organizational structure. Each region in Trinidad is managed by ALTA Regional Coordinators who all report to ALTA’s CEO. This year ALTA has taken the decision to implement a National Coordinator who will manage all ALTA programmes around the country. This ensures that the CEO can focus on internal matters and ALTA Online. Lystra Hazarie has been appointed ALTA’s new National Coordinator. Lystra will be immersed in all aspects of programme development and management in the coming years.

For the first time this year, ALTA decided to advertise the NALIS Youth Lit Programme for youth 10-15 via social media. There was an overwhelming response to the registration with 229 students assessed. Unfortunately, given resource constraints, many of the students could not be accommodated. The response however shows that the ALTA brand is strong and that there is an overwhelming unmet need for ALTA among those in the 10-15 age group.

In order to keep tutors and the ALTA programme up to date, every year ALTA conducts refresher training for continuing tutors, as well as a Tutor meeting with current tutors to update them on all things ALTA. This year ALTA welcomed guest speaker Cathryn Kelshall of the Dyslexia Association who did a presentation on Dyslexia in the ALTA classroom.   As a mentor to ALTA from the early years, Cathyrn matched research and teaching approaches to ALTA’s tutor and student experience. Tutors got a better of understanding of their dyslexic students and why particular activities are necessary in the ALTA classroom. Based on Cathryn’s advice, a new spelling element was introduced at this year’s refresher tutor training and implemented in ALTA classrooms for this academic year.

For the past 25 years, ALTA has committed to training at most 100 tutors annually. This year, 95 participants started the training course and 86 successfully completed the sessions. These tutors are currently completing their first term of teaching at classes around the country.

As ALTA looks toward the future, one of the things that became apparent was that the organisation needed a strategic plan. In April 2017, ALTA was fortunate to be guided by professionals from Deloitte who helped the management team develop a strategic plan. Ravi Rampersad, Marshall Ogle and Salaina Jagroop from Deloitte conducted two gratis workshops with ALTA which led to a now implemented plan which will guide ALTA’s work for the next three years.

Republic Bank-sponsored ALTA Online is ALTA’s signature project, the most innovative product since the development of the ALTA programme itself, in that it has the potential to bring reading instruction not just to Trinidad but the whole Caribbean and beyond – indeed anywhere reached by the internet.

Mid-year design and staff changes meant that ALTA adjusted the timeline, so the goal for October 2017 was to produce the first three lessons in Book 1 for Level 1. ALTA is proud to have achieved this major milestone in this difficult project. Testing of lessons 1-3 by the extended tutor team is complete, so the team is now set to move on to external testing. ALTA Online has been a moving target, however the challenges have served as the building blocks of a product that will better meet the needs of present and future students.

ALTA looks forward to launching ALTA Online in the near future!