The “Better Connections” programme, a nationwide initiative targeted at improving the well-being of expatriate workers in Qatar, has surpassed its pre-set target of 1.5mn beneficiaries by providing digital inclusion opportunities, to 1,679,000 beneficiaries, within a five-year time frame since its launch.
Better Connections was launched in 2014 under the umbrella of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to enhance the social well-being of expatriate workers in Qatar.
With the support of the MoTC, the Ministry Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and Reach Out To Asia (Rota), a programme under “Education Above All”, and other stakeholders, the number of participating companies and beneficiaries has significantly grown, bolstering the success of the programme.
Phase one of the programme, which ran from April 2015 to December 2017, focused on resourcing and delivering the outlined objectives, by providing expatriate workers with access to the Internet, computers, online services, and training at their accommodation.
As an active partner of Better Connections, Rota contributed significantly towards this goal by recruiting, training and managing volunteers, to help companies set up computer labs at the accommodations.
Volunteers also provided training to workers on digital literacy, bringing Better Connections’ ambitious plans to success.
Following the positive outcomes from the first Phase, Phase II was announced to scale up implementation, starting July 2017 until the end of February 2020.
During this phase, Rota played a key role in the monitoring and evaluation of the programme.
This included designing data collection tools, training volunteers to collect data, and analysing and reporting on project progress and results.
Rota project manager Maryam Majareh said: “Through all of our combined efforts, we have provided transforming opportunities for workers who used technology to stay in touch with their families and friends, learn and develop new skills, and benefit from a variety of online services and platforms, like Hukoomi.
“Digitally-excluded people have been empowered by Better Connections so that they too can benefit from the numerous advantages of the Internet.”
Results across Phase II of the programme exhibit its success in providing professional and personal development opportunities to workers, especially those who may have had limited schooling in their own countries.
Beneficiaries reported improvements in happiness, well-being, and confidence.
Overall, they indicated that they are better able to communicate, to learn independently using information and communications technology (ICT) and the Internet, and expressed satisfaction with the programme.
Meanwhile, volunteers of the programme, both from the MoTC and Rota, conveyed that the programme allowed for immense personal growth by seeing the positive impact of the programme on the recipients first-hand.
Using digital interfaces such as the ATM (automated teller machine) machine, being able to find online resources including ministerial websites, and sharing online resources amongst each other, are some of the key achievements that Better Connections has made in empowering a digitally disadvantaged sector of society.
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