ALTA in 2020 – A Story of Resilience

i Apr 1st No Comments by

Last week’s feature covered the
first half of ALTA Board Chairman, Nigel Baptiste’s Chairman’s Report,
delivered at ALTA’s 2020 AGM, the first ever held virtually on Zoom, on
Saturday 13 February. Today we continue our look back at ALTA in 2020 as we
review the association’s accomplishments in the second half of the report.

The other big achievement for
2020 was ALTA-V classes delivered via Zoom, which was not in the minds of
anyone when we last spoke in 2019 but was sparked by Covid. ALTA’s
responsiveness to the challenges posed by the pandemic is at the core of what
can best be described as our third accomplishment: our resilience.

When all classrooms closed on
13 March 2020, ALTA Regional Coordinators immediately started working to
complete the academic year with as many students as possible. Here, we
acknowledge and thank ALTA’s National Coordinator, Lystra Hazarie, and the
entire team of Regional Coordinators, for their work to develop virtual

Here’s what we did:

1. Pilot virtual teaching of
each level except Beginner

2. ALTA Student Online
Readiness Survey to identify students with web-enabled devices

3. Zoom and WhatsApp classes
with small groups of students

These combined efforts enabled ALTA
to maximise student attendance in Zoom/WhatsApp ALTA classes for Term 3 from
April-July 2020.

  • 48% in Port of Spain East and West
  • 41% in East and Mid-East
  • 41% in South and Central

During the lockdown, ALTA was
proud to partner with UWTT’s COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund.

  • ALTA was one of 10 NGO partners who identified stakeholders in need of financial assistance
  • 25 ALTA students’ families received aid between May and August through this fund

Thanks once again to United Way
Trinidad and Tobago for this much needed initiative and to ALTA’s National Coordinator
Lystra and East Regional Coordinator Carolyn Walker-Hepburn for efficiently
coordinating this process.

In July, it became clear that
there would be no return to the classroom in September, and the race to get ALTA-V
structured and staffed was on!

This was accomplished by:

  • The development of the ALTA Online Tutor Training Book
  • The filming of 10 training videos filmed in July featuring expert tutors Judy Sewsaran, Sylvia Gordon, Judith Affoo and Debbie Dowlath.

Facilitating interactive volunteer sessions using free Zoom lead by a trained facilitator for a mixed group of 6 continuing and new tutors.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the
tutor trainers and the 150 new and continuing ALTA volunteers who have embraced
the ALTA-V challenge – a learning experience for us all!

The NGC-sponsored Stand Tall I
am ALTA student registration campaign on TV, radio and social media featured a
record number of 8 ALTA student ambassadors and featured writing produced at
the start of 2020 for the international magazine Women’s Perspectives. This
year 16 pieces from our female students in Level 3 and the Spelling Programme
were submitted under the theme “The Hero’s Journey: Where are you on your
journey?” and all were published.

The I am ALTA campaign started
on Sept 6 with the NGC-sponsored “Trinidad is a Real Place” on TTT which was
all about ALTA.

Our student testimonies got the
response we wanted. Not only did students new to ALTA sign up, but many past
students seized the opportunity to have ALTA instruction in their home. For the
first time, ALTA was able to include students in Tobago with book sale services
offered for no commission by AJ’s Accessories and General Store in Scarborough.

Converting to virtual classes
called for a massive team effort by all ALTA staff, Regional Coordinators and
tutors. In this most difficult of years, ALTA staff have without a doubt lived
up to the Above and Beyond award given to ALTA.

Working remotely, staff have
ignored the workday end time – working until what they have to do is done. In a
year when so many education services contracted, each of our staff has
contributed to shaping and expanding into new ALTA services.

Each has embraced the slogan of
2020: Stand tall – I am ALTA.

If the Board and Members are to
take away one thing from this presentation it would be ALTA’s deep gratitude
for their contributions throughout 2020. ALTA’s successful transition from
in-person to virtual teaching was owed to these efforts. I thank all present
for their commitment and support as we move into the future and am hopeful we
will succeed in accomplishing our mission.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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