Workers to get free Internet access at home

More than a million workers across Qatar may soon have free access to computers and online services at their accommodations as the Better Connections Programme, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Transport and Communications is going in full swing. Under the programme, as many as 1,500 ICT facilities will also be established at the places provided by the employers for imparting ICT training to workers by volunteers.

“The Better Connections Programme enables workers to gain an understanding of the benefits of online technology, teaches them basic ICT skills and introduces them to social media platforms that help them keep in touch with family and friends in their home countries,” said the Ministry of Transport and Communications on its social media platform encouraging people to register as volunteers for the initiative. Other partners of the project are Vodafone, Microsoft, Reach Out To Asia (Rota) and SESRI.

Under the programme, first of all “Green Computer Clubs” will refurbish 15,000 computers donated by various government and private organisations while Microsoft will provide software licences for Windows and Office for all.

The next step is setting up ICT facilities. Employers participating in the programme will set up 1,500 ICT facilities, each consisting of minimum 10 PCs connected to the Internet. Vodafone provides connectivity in all ICT facilities.

The pool of committed volunteers will impart training to approximately 1.5 million workers. “Volunteers are a key resource for implementation of the Better Connections Programme. They create a connection between workers and programme partners, delivering training sessions to workers and helping in problem solving.”

The Better Connection Programme is looking to recruit 750 volunteers during 2017–2018 to take part in the programme.

The volunteers can also become a member of “Green Computer Club” and help the programme refurbish donated computers, in the same time they can learn about computer hardware and software. This hardware undergoes a refurbishment process under the supervision of Green Computer Club using licences donated by Microsoft.

The ministries have also invited employers of the migrant labour force to join the initiative. “The employer provides the room at the camp, the furniture, the electrical power and basic auxiliary services such as cleaning and maintenance.”

Once refurbished computers reach the ICT facilities, volunteers identify workers who already have basic ICT skills and train them to become “Digital Inclusion Champions”, passing on their knowledge to their colleagues, ensuring that the learning process becomes sustainable.

After registering for the programme, volunteers will receive invitation for the training session. Volunteers will have to attend a one-day training, which will be delivered on Friday. Following the training session volunteers will be assigned to the ICT facilities (as site assessors or trainers).

Volunteers performing technical roles (site assessors) should be able to speak English while volunteers delivering training should be able to speak one or more of the following languages: Hindi, Nepali, Bengali, Sinhala, Tamil, Urdu, Filipino, in addition to English.

By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula