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Alta’s reputation, impact extend after award

Thursday, April 23, 2015
Alta’s Paula Lucie-Smith is flanked by fellow awardees Len O’Garro, left, and George Simon at the Ansa awards in 2012.

On May 11, 2012, the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence celebrated its tenth anniversary and as the 2012 Civic and Public Contributions laureate, I was proud to be an honoured guest at the ceremony. 

The fact that a Caribbean award for excellence has been created declares that Caribbean people are achievers able to compete at regional and international level. But what has always amazed me about this award is that it gives equal recognition to people from civil society. We stand shoulder to shoulder with professors, inventors and creative masters. This is what I like best about the Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence—the value that is placed on social entrepreneurship. 

The occasion caused me to reflect on the impact of this award for me and Alta. Reputation is important to everyone, but because an NGO depends on the goodwill of others and donations, Alta’s very existence is tied to its reputation. As such, Alta has seen tangible results from receiving the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence. 

In my acceptance speech in 2012, I spoke about my vision to take the Alta programme from face-to-face classroom instruction to online instruction. What we needed was a partner to do the computer programming and the enhanced image brought us a very high-profile partner with the resources we need. I am happy to report that we signed a memorandum of understanding with UWI Computer Engineering Department at the end of 2013 and we will launch Alta Online in September this year. 

We start with Bk 1 of Alta Level 1 and over the next two years we will continue to build the programme until all of Alta Level 1 and 2 is available online. 

This will change the landscape of literacy instruction in T&T and the Caribbean—with potential to reach adult learners worldwide. By allowing individuals to learn to read in privacy, interacting only with a screen, Alta Online will bypass the shame factor which prevents thousands of teens and adults from accessing literacy instruction. 

Less tangible, but just as real, is the premier position Alta now holds within civil society—we are widely known and respected. This comes at a good time as we step into the lean years ahead from a position of strength. 

At Alta we know how to stretch a dollar and the really nice sum which came with this award has been well used for capacity building. Key to NGO survival is to reduce dependence on the founder, a process steadily pursued since 2012. Alta has introduced the position of National Co-ordinator and devolved duties to the seven regional co-ordinators to ensure that local class, tutor and student needs are met. 

We have implemented new systems, from a comprehensive Online Alta Tutor and Student database to accounting procedures that carefully track our dollars. 

All this Alta activity and energy will soon be captured in our revamped Web site, Do visit! 


• Volunteer, donate, spread the word. Alta volunteers are unpaid. Call 624-ALTA (2582) or e-mail [email protected] or find us on Facebook: Alta Trinidad.


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