We invited all parents to a general meeting on 18/01/2012 to share ideas on how we could improve our service and create some strategies to achieve our goals.
We'd like to thank all parents who attended this meeting. Your care, participation, thoughts and ideas are highly appreciated and will contribute to making Marhaba a great success for our community.
Following are some of the major concerns raised at the meeting:
1. Shortage of Volunteers
Marhaba is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on volunteers who take the time out of their schedules to participate in Saturday's sessions. Unfortunately, it continues to be a struggle to find committed volunteers. This is mainly due to the timing (12pm - 4pm) since it is in the middle of the day, unpaid, and doesn't leave our volunteers with any time for that day.
2. Student Commitment & Attendance
It was noted that some parents seem to be using Marhaba as cheap day-care for their children; dropping them off at any time that suits them and, in some cases, picking them up quite late. Also, some students are absent for many of the sessions and don't do their homework. This creates an unfair situation for the volunteers who have their own families and commitments to go to, but also for the other community members who are on the waiting list because these students are holding a space at Marhaba but not fully committed to it.
We continue to have problems with parents delaying payment of Marhaba's fees, sometimes until the last day of the term. This fee is required at the beginning of the term in order to pay for hiring the hall as well as some basic materials.
Marhaba's fee has been fixed for many years now and was never increased. Almost all parents suggested that we increase Marhaba's fees, to enable us to provide a better service, possibly to make it similar to other weekend programs (such as sports), which cost about $120 per term for about 1 hour per week. Marhaba provides 4 hours of instruction per week for only $30 per term, which is less than $1 per hour!
We are committed to resolving these issues as soon as possible and in the best way possible in order to improve our service. To achieve this, the following points were presented and agreed by parents who were present:
- Starting from Term 2 the Saturday session will begin at 10am and finish at 2pm. It will remain from 12pm - 4pm until the end of Term 1 to accommodate the parents who have already made commitments outside these hours.
- Classes start at 12pm sharp (10am from Term 2). Students are strongly encouraged to arrive 10 minutes before in order to be ready for the lesson. Students who arrive late will not be allowed to attend the session and will be considered absent.
- If a student is absent 3 times in one term, they will receive a warning letter. If it happens again, they will receive a discontinue letter and will need to exit the program and provide the space to other committed children from Marhaba's long waiting list.
- Classes finish at 4pm sharp (2pm from Term 2). Marhaba cannot be responsible for students once the classes end. If students are not picked up by their parents when classes finish, Marhaba will consider issuing a discontinue letter.
- Term fees will remain the same for now - $30, but they must be paid in full on the first day of classes.
- Main volunteers will attend only for the first 2 hours to provide intense Arabic and Quran studies. They can then leave to enjoy the rest of their afternoon. The second half of the session will be dedicated to creative activities. Due to the change in timing, we hope to have more volunteers and each group will always remain with the same mentor. This will allow the mentor to become better acquainted with the students' strengths and weaknesses and allow them to monitor their progress.
- We ask that parents follow up with your children and make sure that their homework is done on time.
- We are in the process of introducing a grading program similar to martial arts where students accumulate points for achievements and are rewarded with a belt whose colour represents the student's progress. We hope that this will motivate the students to work harder and achieve.
Please note that these changes take effect immediately except for the time change which will start in Term 2 28/04/2012.
For the parents who did not attend our meeting, if you have any concerns or need more information please feel free to contact Marhaba, we would love to hear from you.
The Marhaba Team