The Better Connections Program
Better Connections Program Introduction
The Digital Society Development department at Ministry of Transport and Communications establishes and executes programs to achieve digital inclusion and increase ICT access rates among various sectors of Qatari society. The department provides ICT tools, technologies and infrastructure to bridge the digital divide, and develops appropriate programs to encourage all members of the public to use government e-services
Better Connections is a groundbreaking social integration initiative for migrant workers in the State of Qatar. The program is a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, and committed partners. It provides access to technology and develops the skills of migrant workers in the use of ICT, in order to improve their quality of life and to integrate them into the digital community and wider society.
This program provides free access to refurbished computers and the internet as well as training for workers in their place of accommodation so that they can become part of the information society, allowing them to communicate with friends and family in their home countries, access government online services, learn about their rights and responsibilities and return to their countries with enhanced IT skills.
From a broader perspective, Better Connections will ultimately enable all 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar to benefit from the economic and cultural development of the country and contribute significantly to creating an integrated digital society in which everyone has equal access to technology as a basis for building a knowledge-based economy
Program Structure and Partnerships
The Better Connections Program sets up fully functioning ICT facilities at workers’ accommodation sites equipped with refurbished donated hardware, software licenses, internet connectivity, access to tailored training content, as well as training sessions conducted by the program’s volunteers.
The Ministry works with strategic partners to ensure the program’s sustainability and continuity. The program sources hardware donated from different ministries and organizations in Qatar. This hardware undergoes a refurbishment process In Green Computer Clubs at schools, where students repair and prepare computers using licenses donated by Microsoft, while Vodafone provides unlimited internet connectivity to workers’ accommodation sites. E-waste produced by the program’s refurbishing process is managed by Alhya Enviro.
Migrant workers’ employers enroll in the program. Together with a program volunteer team, employers identify the ICT needs of the migrant workers residing in their accommodation. Refurbished hardware and Wi-Fi devices are then delivered to the sites upon the setup of an appropriate space to house it. Employers provide the space, basic furniture and utilities.
Then training is delivered through a cascading model of knowledge delivered by a network of capable volunteers already enrolled in the program. The Ministry manages volunteers’ training sessions to prepare them with all required information. To ensure that the quality of training is up to standard the program partner Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) conducts pre-training surveys as well as six-month post training surveys on the users to measure the impact of the program on their lives.
The Ministry collaborates with Qatar University’s Social & Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) to provide detailed analysis, studies and reports measuring the program impact on migrant workers lives in Qatar.
Better Connections is more than simply connecting workers to the internet. It aspires to the core values of harnessing information and communication technology to create a sustainable and inclusive information society that ensures access for all, regardless of economic or social background.