SDG Campaign: Project No. 4 by Sara Amani

Project Title: Distance Learning During a Pandemic

Main Outcome: To provide university students with practical tips to help them transition into online learning under emergency circumstances.

My main goal with this project was to address SDG goal 4, quality education. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Qatar, all schools and universities had to transition to distance learning very quickly, and that came as a shock to students and faculty as well. Transitioning from traditional face-to-face teaching to using online platforms is very difficult as is, but particularly challenging for engineering courses that include a lot of hands-on laboratory work and group projects. As an engineering education major who started her PhD with online courses, I was able to use my experience to help make this transition easier for the students at Texas A&M at Qatar specifically. Through this project I helped with student support by helping the university organize online tutoring platforms, and I posted daily tips and tricks for students on the Instagram page of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). These tips included ways to stay motivated and take care of mental health, as well as tips on how to effectively study at home specifically. Since this was very effective, the main university page asked if I could host a virtual Question and Answer session to reach more people. The followers of the main university page also include many high school students who are transitioning into university and are struggling with online learning. You can find out my Q&A sessions of the main page @tamuq and @tamuqctl on Instagram.

The project took place virtually in Qatar. The university I work at transitioned from fully traditional methods to fully online in a matter of days and placed a lot of challenges on the community. SDG goal 4, quality education is very close to my heart, so I took it on me to help make sure that even though transitioning to online was very difficult and that there are a lot of cultural barriers that added to the issue, that the quality of education the students were gaining would not be compromised. Of course this is not a one-person job and mainly the role of the administration to ensure quality education, but I did what I could to be a voice for the students and I focused mainly on addressing student concerns. I became a link between the students and the staff and helped set up initiatives that could ease the distance learning process. The target group was the students at Texas A&M University at Qatar (more than 500 students).

  • Project Activities:
  • Daily tips and tricks posted on Instagram account of TAMUQ Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Virtual Q&A session on the main TAMUQ Instagram account regarding struggles with distance learning
  • Regular discussions with students (through social media) about the increased challenges they are facing due to the transition to online methods and providing them with advice on how to proceed
  • Regular meetings with staff to address student concerns, particularly in relation to online learning
  • Multiple virtual tutoring sessions with students on Zoom to help them with course projects
  • Planning virtual events such as “Zoom Café” to keep students motivated during this time of hardship

The primary goal of this project was to focus on SDG 4, Quality Education. For this project, I was helping students and staff gain skill when it comes to distance learning and online education. This relates to target 4.4 “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills…”. I specifically addressed indicator 4.4.1 with “promotion of youth and adults with information and communications technology skills, by type of skill”.

Given that many of these tips included staying positive and motivated, I also targeting goal 3.4, “promote mental health and well-being”.

SDG Campaign: Project No. 3 by Fay Al Najadah

Fay is very passionate about topics within Diversity and Inclusion. Especially appreciating cultural differences, empowering women and disability. Her SDG micro Project focuses on SDG 10 reducing inequalities for individuals with disabilities in her community by Educating, spreading awareness and highlighting their achievements locally and globally. In addition, looking at their abilities rather than limiting and labeling them with their Dis-abilities. In this blog, we share what Fay has shared with us regarding her project and experience:

“In October 2019 a group of 5 mothers who have kids with different disabilities came together to form this group and Currently I am one of the Founders and I am Leading the group . I am in-charge of their social media and sharing my experience with them. It’s a team that specializes in everything related to people with disabilities and their families. We support, highlight, sensitize and transfer everything new in the field of Diss-Ability. The group is called Heba which means a gift in Arabic. They chose Heba as the name of the group because they see their kids as a gift from God. They would like to share it with the rest of the world. 

I learned from the Women Empowerment program to lead from the heart and allow others to shine that motivated me to insist on believing in this group and making it active during the quarantine period. We as women need to learn to encourage each other rather than criticize each other. I envision a world where we accept each other despite our differences and to look at the strengths of individuals and what they can bring to the table. I would like to conclude by this motto which I will start using as a slogan for our group :  “ Believe in my ability and capability despite my disability” So Don’t (Dis) my Ability.

There was many challenges moving forward: First the team didn’t know each other very well so I asked them to do the MBTI test so I can understand how to approach each person and understand the way they make decisions. Second, the members don’t know how to use technology like Google Drive, Zoom, etc …

Third, our work depends on meeting people having the pandemic made it harder and made me persist on moving this project forward especially after I saw how our members ( the mothers) we struggling with their kids during the lockdown such as their kids schedule changed. So I asked one of the active members who is willing to work with me. I empowered her to do weekly instagram lives. We started our first instagram live on  12 of April 2020. We did #5 lives that was moderated by my mom who is an activist for individuals with disabilities and a choice theory trainer in Kuwait. 

Our live sessions coverd different topics: our kids with disabilities during quarantine, disability law in kuwait & the gulf, Life balance & Psychological problems during covid ,mental health during covid, and a live with a mother who had an Down syndrome child that got cured from covid-19. The live sessions and my social media strategy helped our instagram group to be known by the community and helped us to increase our followers from 26 follows to 349 followers. In addition, we started getting amazing feedback on Instagram from people and some asking when is the next live. Also by managing Instagram I got to meet and get the attention on different International Organizations (USA,Vienna,Jamaica,Germany… etc) that share the same Goal and Sustainable Development Goals. 

An American organization called Different & Able which shares a very similar goal to us sent us “Can you please join? We’d love to have you!” They have a online support system related to different disabilities.”. Many asked to Volunteer, local account started to support our lives without us asking them like : @golivekwt and @all.inkwt   “telling us you anytime you have an event let us know” 

An interesting note is the speaker in our first live was a special education teacher in kuwait. He sent us a msg supporting and offering his service. When my mom talked to him, he told her ( I know you, you supervised me when I was a student and you told me بتكون شيء كبير بالمستقبل ) 

A Learning experience: 

Sometimes it’s hard to let everyone to see things from the same lense or view. From someone who has background in Management I totally believe in Search Results Tuckman’s stages of group development. I even used it to explain to my group why we were stuck and I solved  the problem we had. 

– Use constructive communication with your team.

– You choose what you want this is the full story

– “i totally believe in Tuckman’s stages of group development 

Without Search Result

It wasn’t easy to move the project forward everytime someone want to drop out I hold on tight and remind them of their vision when we discussed it in our first meeting. Like everytime there is a conflict my mom will say: khalas I gave up. I keep telling her no no why u give up so easily you wanted this so bad . Why do u stop what you want to do because of unmotivated members we have to continue working because we ( me & her) believe in change. This is what made her accept the  idea of the instagram lives then when she saw the affect she started contacting people that we worked with in the past and suggested let’s talk about this topic. 

We got contacted by a local organization that offered us funding for any future events. But we still need to make sure it isn’t against the law because we are a group not an organization.

Moving forward we would like to impact more individuals with disabilities &  empower their mothers cuz (a mother that have a child with disability goes through a lot of hardship and phases / We would like to focus on women with disability   because that isn’t done in Kuwait. We are also thinking of being as a support system for mothers who give birth at the hospital and the hospital doesn’t know how to tell the mothers that she have a child with disability. So the mother goes through mental and emotional challenge when she know.”

SDG Campaign: Project No. 2 by Dr. Alkharafi

Dr. Alkharafi received her dental degree (Bachelor of Dental Medicine) from Kuwait University, Faculty of Dentistry in 2009. After completing one year of craniofacial genetics and stem cell research, she earned her Master of Science in Dentistry and a Certificate in Orthodontics from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francisco, USA. She was the recipient of the “excellence Award” in research from the University of the Pacific in 2012, and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics in 2016. She is currently working at Jaber Alahmad Hospital in the Department of Orthodontics. Dr. Alkharafi is a mother of two, loves football, and has a passion for women’s rights and social justice.

Project that “will” be implemented (postponed due to covid 19 lockdown )

The Kuwait Brain Tumor Charity

 Although brain tumors are one of the most lethal, they are rare compared to more common cancers such as breast or prostate cancer, thus it does not receive enough funding to develop better treatment options. The main outcome of this project is to raise donations that would focus on promoting research both locally and internationally. Not only do we help patients receiving much needed treatment, we also focus on funding research that help understand its cause, early diagnosis, and treatment. we strive to elevate our patient’s quality of life, decrease the burden on the individual and the family, in addition to that on the health care system.

SDG 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

  • 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines for all
  • 3.b: Support the research and development of medicines for non-communicable, provide access to affordable essential medicines

3.d: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

SDG Campaign: Project No. 1 by Noura Al Fadhl

Since a young age, Noura has always been keen and fond of the nature and human impact on the environment. Having the technical skills of an engineer, she sought out to change her specialization and focus on her passion: saving earth. Through multiple workshops, online courses, and seminars, she has managed to influence hundreds of kids into environmental issues and sustainable practices. Today she is 25 years old, majoring in Environmental Impact Assesment and Management at Oxford, while working on her community initiative: the local workspace of precious plastic while still being publicly active on social media through digital strikes and environmental initiatives.

Plastic is Precious is a project focusing on increasing community engagement and awareness through a social media platform, influenced 28 volunteers to join, and secured funding for machine building.

Once an initiative by a Dutch man who was fed up with plastic waste, now Precious Plastic is a global social initiative fueled by the community to recycle plastic into new useful products. 

Last year the worldwide production of plastic is 311000000000 KG and the number will only increase. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research published a stud that indicates the amount of plastic waste in Kuwait is estimated at 18% of all solid waste produced in the country each year, equivalent to 181,440 tons.

Even though the world is going more towards eco-friendly alternatives, plastic is still the most used material for mass-distributed products. It is used to make water bottles, bowling balls, laundry baskets, plant pots, chairs, toys, you name it.

WE CAN MAKE SOMETHING  GREAT OUT OF THIS

  • FURNITURE
  • ACCESSORIES
  • OFFICE STATIONARY

HOW?

  1. COLLECT
  2. SORT THEM OUT
  3. WASH THEM
  4. SHRED THEM

The project has great potential and will be a major SDG project in Kuwait – helping to tackle a main environmental issue in the country. However, due to time restraints and global pandemic, instead of measuring the number of interested individuals or those who would volunteer physically with a helping hand or through designing, implementing and showcasing plastic-recycled products.

However, our goal is to spread awareness and have public engagement – whether it’s online or in person. So our success is measured by the number of people we influenced into joining the cause and volunteering with whatever is needed. Whether plastic facts, plastic designs or questions needed or even managing a virtual discussion about the topic. We managed to reach out to more than 300 people and got a list of 28 volunteers (most are 20 years old and under) who are willing to join the team as soon as possible. This also encourages the youth to focus their energy and efforts into a great cause therefore influence social and environmental responsibility at a young age. Those numbers were of high importance to our sponsor and would be a great addition to out future proposals.

The project is based on passionate volunteers and just an initial public/sponsor fund for machines and showcases, so it is sustainable in the long term due to little future funds needed. It is all in the power of the youth and how we are perceived by others.

Jisser’s SDGs Campaign: Women Empowerment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The BKMC Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP): 

(WEP) is a unique fellowship training for young women leaders that seek to strengthen their capacities to become changemakers for sustainable development and women’s empowerment. The WEP is executed in cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, a centre of excellence for the study of international affairs.

The fellowship contents focused on the following topics:
  • Sustainable Development Goals and Global Citizenship Education
  • Women’s Empowerment from a Human Rights Perspective
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Justice and Anti-Corruption
  • Climate Action
  • Leadership, Communication, and Negotiation Skills

As fellows of the BKMC Women’s Empowerment Program, participants are independently required to implement an SDG related Micro-Project within the six months after completing the two weeks training in Vienna.

The project selected by jisser’s representing fellow in the program is the following campaign. The campaign is executed through a series of articles on jisser’s blog aiming to share the valuable knowledge and experience of 20 extraordinary GCC women delivering micro-projects targeting the SDGs.

At the end of every week starting next week, we will share the successful story of a project either completed or in progress delivered by one of the GCC WEP. Each article will highlight the background of the fellow and why they were the perfect candidate, information regarding the project itself, and finally how that project

We look frward to share the first article next Thursday 04/06/2020.

BRIDGE OF HOPE

June 12, 2019Hubert Vaz

http://www.theweek.co.om/ISSUES/834/BRIDGE-OF-HOPE

Kulthoom al Khmaiyasi, a spirited young participant of this year’s National Youth Programme for Skills Development, is out to equip young Omani job seekers with something powerful. It’s a vital tool that puts a candidate ahead of competition and in good light for prospective employers – a successful internship. 

Her project is an online platform that connects job seekers to internship opportunities in private and public establishments.

Kulthoom, an MSc in Applied Economics, is an economic researcher in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Jisser, which means ‘bridge’ in Arabic, is a project she had conceived during her college days at Sultan Qaboos University, and has now taken it forward along with two other young women.

By bridging the gap between education and employment by providing internships opportunities to young job seekers, she aims to equip them with the much -needed experience which most employers look for in prospective employees.

The firm has already enrolled a few thousand young graduates as well as signed on a good number of companies which seek to provide internships with the hope of identifying promising talent in a variety of fields.

Kulthoom and her teammates – Shamsa al Sharji, a software engineer skilled in data warehousing and NET framework, and Rahma al Shaqsi, a mechanical and industrial engineer who is also a licensed trainer in self-motivation – are the three pillars of Jisser who hope to someday devote all efforts in taking this budding firm to new heights and revolutionise the job market in Oman.

“The main problem facing most young job seekers is the lack of relevant work experience. With Jisser, we hope to address that problem.”

Kulthoom al khmaiyasi CO-Founder, Jisser

When the trio signed up for the National Youth Programme for Skills Development, spearheaded by the Diwan of Royal Court to carry out His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s vision for developing the youth in Oman, they were among 11,000 participants from all over Oman. They were lucky to get shortlisted from among 1,000 participants in Stage I and subsequently underwent several rounds of training and workshops that were provided to help the youths shape and create formidable projects that would ultimately receive suitable funding, if shortlisted.

“I joined Jisseras one of its first volunteers. It helped me improve my communication skills, especially interacting with professionals.”

Fatik al Amri, Volunteer

Currently they are among a batch of 200 shortlisted candidates in Stage II who have to prepare and present viable projects for Oman during the final round to in August. Having researched her project thoroughly, Kulthoom is fully aware that Middle East stands out as a region having one of youngest populations where over 60 per cent is below 30 years old.  At the same time, it is also the region with one of the highest youth unemployment rates and lowest youth labour force participation. And, Oman is not an exception, she points out.

“One of the main difficulties facing youths on the lookout for jobs is the lack of relevant work experience, and there was need for creating a platform to provide information on available opportunities. Hence, we decided to launch Jisser as an automated internship platform with the main aim of providing a link between internship opportunities and young internship seekers,” said Kulthoom, adding that the initial response to the platform has been very encouraging.

Hopeful that the presentation on their project will make an impression on the judging panel, Kulthoom said that once it gets financial backing, the project will really take off and gain more credibility among the workforce as well as employers in Oman.

This is the need of the hour as unemployment among the youth has been steadily increasing and becoming a cause of concern, she said, adding that merely fulfilling Omanisation targets was not enough; there’s need for getting youths ready for taking up jobs.

“All companies do business to make money. And if they employ inexperienced or unskilled employees just to meet Omanisation targets, it will be of no use. Hence, they need to employ experienced and efficient employees,” she said.

As for the job preference among most youths, Kulthoom asserted that those who look for a comfortable and secure job usually prefer government employment.

However, the ones who seek growth and challenges that will help them develop their own potential and climb their way up to successful careers are the ones who go for private companies. “The smart ones seek private employment,” she quipped.

“I am confident that our project will get approved as it is a unique concept and it also serves young job seekers.”

Shamsa al Sharji, CO-Founder, Jisser

Hello Future! JISSER, a Finalist at the National Youth Program for Skills Development…

Carrying out His Majesty’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Vision, the Diwan of Royal Court launches a new national initiative for the youth of Oman. “…designed to equip young Omanis with the attitudes, skills and knowledge to be successful in the future world of work and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

This track of the program targets the age group 18-29 years and was designed to give 1,000 participants out of a total of 11,000 applicants from all governorates of the Sultanate in the first batch of unique educational experience.

The educational journey started with an e-learning phase for 3 months. Those who have successfully completed the first phase joined a second applied learning phase conducted both within and outside the Sultanate, to allow the participants to benefit from successful international initiatives upon their return from the trips. The finalists in the last stage are nearly 300 participants went through intensive training workshops and an ideathone provided by both international and national leading educational institutions at global level.

Through JISSER’s participation in the National Program for Youth Skills Development, the team members participated in a bootcamp on 12-13 April with the rest of the competing teams. The results of the work carried out during the competition period will be presented mid August 2019 and the final results are expected to be announced by September 2019.

You can learn more about the National Youth Program for Skills Development by visting the website:
https://www.youth.om/en

JISSER (A Bridge)

An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time and it might be paid or not. In Oman, most of the big oil and gas companies have paid internships which last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.

There are many benefits from taking an internship such as real world experience; since when you join a company as an intern it will give you the chance to work hands on in a professional environment. The second benefit is networking; as internships often give you the opportunity to meet people with different experiences and backgrounds which might help you in a way in the future. Then there is the competitive advantage over competition; as companies nowadays want to see that you have the passion and drive to spend your break from college working which will help differentiate you from the other graduates applying for the same job.  Final example of a benefit is to achieve higher grades; where studies have shown that the skills and experience you gain during internships help graduates achieve higher overall grades in their exams because it gives you an in-depth understanding of the principles and ideas learnt during your degree.

Jisser internship platform is an automated platform that aims to induce the role of community service on both self and community development. Internships are very important to enhance people’s capabilities and to familiarize students with the working environment so that they know what to expect when they start working. It is crucial for universities to make sure that their students are mentally prepared to graduate and to join a company and enter a new phase in their life because if the students are not prepared, they will face many difficulties adjusting which will affect them negatively.

What makes Jisser different from other platform like linkedinor mujeed or other employment platform is that it emphasizes on the local opportunity for internships only. With its target market being the group whom might not yet have enough experience to compete for full time jobs with pre requested experience on the other platforms mentioned earlier.JISSER works with universities to run training sessions and does a skill check to ensure that all applicants have the basic skills and professionalism to excel at their internships before they get to the company.

The Omani students and graduates who founded Jisser aim to provide a comprehensive space to match-making between internship opportunities present in the Omani market and the continuously growing talent pool of its youth.

Reference:

  1. Wiki Job. (2019). Why Are Internships A Good Idea? Ten Key Reasons.

[online]

Available at: https://www.wikijob.co.uk/content/internships/advice/why-take-internship [Accessed 16 Apr. 2019]

Written by Zahra Bait Ishaq

16th April 2019

Student at Middle East College

Youth Unemployment in Oman

Unemployment refers to the situation in which able-bodied people who are looking for a job cannot find a job. There are four types of unemployment which are structural, frictional, cyclical  & seasonal.

Structural unemployment is when people don’t have the skills and knowledge that are required in the market, for example when someone studies astronomy in a country where astronomy is not in high demand. Frictional unemployment is the sort that happens when people are looking for the ideal job. It is especially true in Oman when people wait for government jobs and not seek private sector jobs. Cyclical unemployment is the sort that is caused by bad economic times. In 2015/2016 Oman suffered from the drop in oil prices which put the country in an economic crisis. Seasonal unemployment happens when a person’s job is only available at certain times of the year. For example, people who work in farms or tourism fields.

The unemployment rate in Oman increase to 16% in 2017 and continues to rise while the number of people who graduate from higher education institutes are increasing year after year.

A survey done by the Graduate Affairs Department of the Ministry of Higher Education was published in 2016 and it was found that more than half of Omanis remain jobless after graduating from colleges in Oman. The survey was carried out among 12,551 students, who were looking for jobs after graduating from their colleges.

Most of the jobs in the Omani market require experience which creates a gap between the people who recently graduates and those who have experience. This is where internships come to close the gap between the two. According to multiple sources the best way to avoid employment is to constantly improve your skills and invest in yourself to develop.

To conclude, there are number of ways the government can reduce unemployment, which is by boosting the economic growth, the second way is to create more government projects which will help dramatically in the unemployment problem that the country is currently facing. Finally, and most importantly to never be afraid to invest in our most valuable resource, the youth.

Written by Zahra Bait Ishaq

Student at Middle East College

References:

  1. Trading Economics. (2019). Oman Unemployment Rate. [online] Available at: https://tradingeconomics.com/oman/unemployment-rate [Accessed 16 Apr. 2019]
  2. Times of Oman. (2016). Only 47% of graduates get jobs in Oman. [online] Available at: https://timesofoman.com/article/76950[Accessed 16 Apr. 2019].

TOT and Team Building Events for JISSER’s Volunteer…

The outstanding certified trainer Maher Al-Kindi delivered Training of Trainers workshop targeting the members and volunteers of JISSER Internship Platform on Saturday, 07/11/2016.

The workshop included several topics on the basics and specifications of the successful coach and lecturer, identification of the positive and negative aspects of the personality of the coach and how to communicate with the public successfully. Not to mention the many interactive sessions provided by the coach, which lead to the interaction of both parties positively from the beginning until the end of the workshop.

On a separate event, volunteers and members took part in the team building bootcamp organized by the Tahadi (challenge) Team held in Halban from 7 am to 10 pm. The team went through 22 challenges that required both mental and physical skills. The team completed the bootcamp successfully, won first place and most importantly benefited from activities in understanding how to build teams, accept others and many other wonderful lessons in the art of leadership.