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Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers



Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers

This is a review of chapter 22 of the Book Social Justice in English Language Teaching. The book is edited by Laura Jacob and Christopher Hastings. The book is a 2016 publication by TESOL International Association. Chapter 22 is the work of Silvia Pessoa and Bernadine Dias of Carnegie Mellon University, Natalia Gatti of Academic Bridge Program and Nada Soudy of Teach for All.

The authors of chapter 22 all live in Qatar and have seen firsthand the effects of the English literacy program at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar for the last 5 years. The chapter is about improving English literacy in migrant workers in Qatar. The chapter is of essence in its field for the sole purpose that it serves as social justice avenue. Social justice in this context is made possible by reducing the gap in communication between the affluent Qataris and the poor migrants seeking to earn a living. By teaching the adults to communicate in English, the students, who are mostly Qataris, can understand the problems that migrant workers face and because they are the future of Qatar, this social injustice may end one day. It is a social injustice to be segregated and isolated in a foreign country. Through this program, workers learn to communicate with the student teachers and explain how they feel. In a country where migrant workers receive poor pay and go for months without pay, teaching them how to express themselves in English will enable them to secure better jobs, better working conditions and negotiate their way out of unfairness achieving social justice for themselves and others that suffer the same problems.Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers

The authors’ writing style is Expository in nature. This is because they are trying to communicate to an audience that lives outside Qatar of what goes on in Qatar. The use of various statistics, facts and evidence about the adult learning program all show that the authors favor the expository writing style. An example of statistics is “Qataris represent only 6.5% of the economically active population.” An example of fact is “…migrant workers are placed under the authority of a Qatari citizen known as sponsor, who assumes full economic and legal responsibility for the worker for a period of generally 2 years.” The authors also use evidence of student teacher response and workers submitted homework to drive the point home.

This chapter can be summarized as one that encourages the program known as Language bridges to empower learners and influence teachers. In studying the program, the authors expose its highs and lows. The lows include getting the workers to class and to concentrate and using students as teachers with no background in teaching. The highs are about seeing the students’ progress through the various stages of the learning program and the success of dividing the program into beginner, false beginner, intermediate and advance levels to ensure the program’s maximum impact on the workers. The new curriculum of teaching the workers encompasses the use of technology, it is more balanced in terms of content and emphasizes on reflection on the experiences of the migrant workers as well as having meaningful conversations about their everyday life. The program uses the Freirean approach in teaching thus focuses more on the growth of the learner.Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers

The learners benefit from teaching that is tailored to fit their context and what is truly important to them. This includes learning to communicate in specific situations during everyday life, negotiate for better working terms, express themselves well in the workplace and be able to apply for jobs as well as stand for their rights. The teachings provide detailed examples that apply in specific situations that they may encounter. In the end, the chapter exposes the impact of the program for the teachers and learners. The program is impressive especially where the learners are taught in the context of their own lives making it more relevant. It is a good idea also that the program uses a revised curriculum and the fact that most of the student teachers are Qataris is impressive because they get insight as to what it means to be a migrant worker firsthand and not just read it in newspapers. This situation is important because it is a step towards achieving social justice. The fact that the program as a whole is on voluntary basis is impressive because it shows that everybody involved in the program is there to make change possible and change the story of migrants in Qatar.

This chapter is best suited for the present and future leaders of Qatar and for the students and migrant workers as well as humanitarians that can help end the social injustice that currently exists in Qatar. This is expressed by the statement, “This imbalance in the population, with Qataris being the minority in their own country and laborers being the majority but living at the margins of society, has created issues of power disparity, inequality and human rights abuses…”

This chapter is however not suited for people keen on maintaining the social gap in Qatar or people who do not believe that language can affect the lives of people just by improving communication. These people are exemplified by one laborer who on the question of seeking UN help said’ “we won’t go there, because our supervisor will do even worse to us.”

The weakness of this chapter is lack of providing a solution to challenges such as workers who are afraid to ask for their passports in fear of being treated worse like the example, where a student teacher says that, “I was confused about what to tell them, to call the UN or not?” Another weakness is failure for solutions to combat the beginning of all this trouble which is, “Some of this challenges start at this migrants’ country of origin with unscrupulous recruiting agencies that charge them high fees for securing a job in Qatar.” There is also a weakness in that the program cannot reach out to the proper authorities and help migrants get better rights and opportunities. However these weaknesses may just be too high to achieve for students who are just trying to help. The long path they chose may finally pay off one day.Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers

Chapter 22 is enlightening on the challenges of migrants in their labor areas but a lot is thankfully being done to help them improve their lives through the Language Bridge program. The authors are clear on what exactly the program intends to achieve as well as the challenges faced and how it came to be. The biggest credit should go to the selfless students who devote their time to teach people even when they are not real teachers. The heroes of the story are the migrants who fight to improve themselves and the sponsors that have a willing heart to help them by giving them the permission to attend the classes. The newer theoretical program is doing a proper job at attaining set objectives and providing modern learning. This chapter is essential for future teachers as they may use it to know what to improve on. The weaknesses are manageable in the long run.Qatar’s Low Income Foreign Workers