Expat parent trains shool bus staff in soft skills
dubai — Little things make a difference, or so believes a Dubai expat who decided to take time off his schedule once a week to train school bus drivers and monitors.
Shabeel Ummer, an Indian national, was dropping his son off to his school bus when he noticed the bus monitor did not know how to communicate with children.
“Most of the bus monitors and drivers are new to the country with limited education. They don’t speak the language, which stresses them out and doesn’t give them room to smile at children,” said Ummer, a corporate trainer and lawyer born and raised in the UAE. To ensure safe transportation of students and to spread happiness, Ummer launched his Thajneed initiative that won the Hamdan Award for Good Initiative in the ‘Year of Giving’.
His 15-minute weekly training capsules at JSS Private School trained 64 school bus monitors and 60 school bus drivers of various ages hailing from different countries since the initiative’s launch last year.
Every Thursday at 8am, Ummer stands at various spots of JSS Private School premises like the canteen, auditorium, library, open stage and quadrangle area to address a topic for 15 minutes to help them expand on their English language skills and have easier communication with students and teachers. Participants are occasionally given snack box and gifts.
“I noticed most of them didn’t know how to interact with teachers, parents and students. They didn’t know the country’s traditions and culture, although they play a big role in our children’s school journey,” said Ummer.
“They are every school’s unsung heroes, and we have to make them part of our community,” he added. Both the groups that he trains come from different countries including Sri Lanka, Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The way he addresses them is through combining words with physical movement.
His aim, he said, is to motivate the blue collar class to enhance their career and stand together with the school fraternity. The interactive sessions blend communication skills and soft skills, teaching them how to greet and address students and teachers. Making a difference While the initiative is aimed at promoting happiness and giving smiles to teachers and students, Ummer said that the bus monitors and drivers now smile at one another.
“They started uttering words in English and are smiling more often,” he said, noting that a survey will be distributed to parents to see the progress in their children’s school bus experience.
Ummer said he has plans to expand his training capsules to other schools starting from the next academic year. “I will speak to entities to allow me to take this initiative forward to other schools across Dubai,” he said.
He added that as expats residing in the country, everyone should do their part to contribute, especially with this year being named the ‘Year of Giving’.
“As the country has a happiness agenda and aims to be a pioneer in education, this is my small contribution to express gratitude to the country,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org
64 school bus monitors and 60 drivers at JSS Private School are given training
They didn’t know the country’s traditions and culture, although they play a big role in our children’s school journey.” Shabeel Ummer, corporate trainer