Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 23rd 2014 Contents B8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 23, 2014
Alta is, by its very nature, an organisation built
on relationships, be these between tutors, students,
trainers, staff, sponsors or any mix of these. Alta is
no one-woman show, albeit that there is a constant
face and person associated with Alta, its founder
Paula Lucie-Smith. Each year together with Paula,
Alta s cadre of tutors, trainers and sponsors breathe
life into the idea that literacy is an achievable goal
for some two thousand students.
A major new partnership in 2013 was with the Cit-
izen s Security Programme (CSP), which falls nicely
in step with the new partnerships with the T&T
Guardian newspaper and Advantage Advertising.
To extend the reach of our free community classes,
Alta ventured into communities where we have never
before been able to attract volunteers and thus to
establish a class. In partnership with CSP, Alta selected
nine at-risk communities without access to existing
Alta classes and trained 21 volunteers to enable them
to conduct adult literacy instruction within their com-
munity. The training was a combination of a new
model of two terms of on-site apprenticeship with
an experienced mentor tutor within existing Alta
classes, followed by Alta s regular six-day training
Before the start of the current academic year, aided
by Alta mentors and field officers, the new tutors went
enthusiastically to find students using every possible
method---from community broadcasts with a loud-
speaker to door to door walkabouts. They came up
against a wall---the wall of shame, a barrier all too
familiar to us at Alta.
Alta students often travel miles away from home
and work to attend Alta. But those in CSP communities
face other invisible boundaries which prohibit persons
from one location entering or passing through a neigh-
bouring area, thus limiting their access to classes
outside their community. For some then, they can t
attend outside their community and won t attend
within their community.
It is thus imperative that we remove feelings of
shame from learning to read. This is one aim of this
column. Since January 2013, the Guardian newspaper
has featured the Reading, It s Life! column every Thurs-
day in the Lifestyle section. This column covers the
range of seasonal Alta activities and features student
stories and tutor experiences. By its actions, the
Guardian has made a public space for literacy on its
pages and without the contributions from all Alta s
tutors and students, the experience of volunteer service
and the journey to literacy would remain a mystery
to the wider public. It is a partnership for which we
are very thankful, and we welcome feedback from
readers on its impact.
Advantage Advertising is another key partner in
helping us to change public perceptions about literacy.
Since 2012, Advantage Advertising has been helping
to get the Alta message out in campaigns and com-
munications. Steve Mathura and his team at Advantage
Advertising have provided free poster design and mar-
keting advice. Their knowledge is a resource which
Alta values greatly, since it is highly sought and bought.
The CSP project was risky from the outset---both
in finding committed volunteers and students brave
enough to say "I need to improve my reading." For
Alta strengthening and
expanding with partners
20 years these communities had remained deaf to Alta.
Yet now, three out of the nine communities have an Alta class:
Patna/River Estate Community Centre (Diego Martin), Mon Repos
Friendly Space (Morvant) and Lendore Hindu School (Enterprise,
Chaguanas). These classes are taking new students up to the end
More students from CSP communities are making their way
to an Alta venue, be it near or far. The work is not finished by
any means, but with CSP as a partner, we have made a start.
Want to partner with us? Alta is looking for
volunteers for the 2014/2015 academic year.
Become an Alta volunteer tutor, a Reading
Circle guide or assist students with the
Reading Companion software on the
computer. Volunteers are unpaid. Call 624-
ALTA (2582) to set up an interview or visit
www.alta-tt.org to get more information.
It is thus
This is one
aim of this
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