SOUTH regional co-ordinator of the Adult Literacy Tutors Association Jacqueline Rawlins says there is a definite need for the work her group is doing, as ALTA is discovering more people are challenged by their lack of basic reading, writing and spelling skills.
For the 32 years the group has been in existence, she said, its students were mainly people who were denied the opportunity to attend school or dropped out before they graduated.
“Now we have a diverse mix: working people, students who have completed secondary school but still have difficulty reading, writing and spelling that’s affecting their functionability and opportunities to gain employment.
“Because of this, ALTA intends to assiduously and passionately work to bring about positive social change in the Caribbean by improving literacy.”
The Greater San Fernando Chamber,in collaboration with 519 Restaurant, honoured Rawlins and Chela Bhimul, ALTA’s secretary, at C3 Mall, San Fernando, on Wednesday night.
As part of their Unsung Heroes programme, over the past eight weeks, the two bodies have been recognising and awarding individuals and groups who have contributed to national development, mainly on a voluntary basis.
The Hunters Search and Rescue group, the Blind Welfare Association, Ms TT/Universe representative Faith Gellizeau,Mrs TT/India Anisa Ali and policeman Darion Thomas – who has delivered babies who arrived unexpectedly early – are among the recipients so far.
Chamber president Kiran Singh noted many ALTA success stories through hard work, diligence and sacrifice since 1991.
Tony Haynes of 519 also applauded the tremendous efforts of the group's 200 volunteers in over 60 locations, and Rawlins for her leadership.
In thanking the two bodies for their recognition, Rawlins said ALTA is run on sponsorship and donations and uses a "home-grown" curriculum.
Beforethe covid19 pandemic, she said, she said strictly community-based classes for students 16 and over were available at 50 venues, taught by some 100 ALTA-trained tutors.
The pandemic gave rise to a virtual segment as well as online web application for independent learning for people eight and over.
“September will be the first time we are restarting the community classes, but we also offer ALTA V – a virtual class via Zoom we started in 2020 to assist students during covid19 –and a third mode of training, through our online web application.”
ALTA which is also available in St Vincent, Antigua, Grenada, and in Tobago, has published over 60 literacy books, and has developed a Caribbean literacy-focused board game.
Rawlins said it has also delivered literacy programmes for NGOs, corporate and government sectors.
She shared with the audience the success story of a "spiritual mother" who, after being exposed to ALTA, was overjoyed as she was finally able to read the word “welcome,” which she said she passed every day for 30 years, but never knew what it meant.
A dyslexic student who passed his school-leaving exams with distinction and established a business was another achievement she boasted of.
“After all these years, there continues to be a definite need for ALTA services in the community.”
She invited the chamber and 519 to join the group in helping to make a difference in the lives of adults previously denied the opportunity to learn.