UAE: From cleaner to a team leader, how NYUAD’s free education changed Indian expat’s life – News

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University’s social responsibility program offers free education, cultural courses to contract workers

Published: Sun 26 Jun 2022, 4:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jun 2022, 10:04 PM

Acquiring communication skills in the English language has helped Indian expat, Vinay Kasturi, upgrade his job profile from being a cleaner to become a team leader in the cleaning department at New York University-Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

Thanks to the university’s social responsibility program that offers free education and cultural courses to contract workers at the university, which has helped them better their lives.

NYUAD’s Office of Social Responsibility offers a comprehensive program of educational opportunities that have met the expressed educational and social needs of contracted staff employed by the university and domestic workers employed by its community members.

Since its inception in 2012, the adult education program has served over 5,000 members of the university community.

Kasturi, 29, who completed his Bachelor’s degree (BSCMPCS) in 2015 (Telugu medium), joined NYUAD as a cleaner in 2017.

“It was very difficult for me to communicate with my supervisor and colleagues. I could understand English but couldn’t reply clearly,” he said.

“I then learned about the NYUAD Office of Social Responsibility that provides English classes, and I immediately joined.”

The Indian expat added, “I was taught the English language and completed the advanced and pre-intermediate levels and obtained a certificate. I also attended basic computer, financial development and photography classes and obtained two other certificates after completion.”

Kasturi noted that in 2021, he was promoted to the position of a team leader because of the communication skills he had obtained.

“I strongly believe those English classes helped me a lot to achieve this position. Now I’m taking the pre-intermediate course. I am also interested in learning the Arabic language next year,” he said

“I’m glad to be working at NYUAD. I always advise my colleagues at work to utilise this opportunity and get free education provided by the office of social responsibility at NYUAD.”

Liria Gjidija, director, Global Outreach and Programs, Department of Global Education, NYU Abu Dhabi, said the adult educational programs for NYU-Abu Dhabi contract staff began with a pilot English course.

“Remaining the pillar of our programming, English in the Workplace has since served over 1,500 of our contracted and domestic worker colleagues,” said Gjidija.

“Over the last decade, we have expanded our educational offerings to a full-scale, comprehensive program that offers twelve certificate courses in various subjects, including English in the Workplace, Arabic language, IELTS preparation courses, computer and financial literacy, public speaking, intercultural communication, creative writing, and professional development.”

Initially developed for the contracted and domestic worker colleagues, the adult education programming is now open to all members of the university community, including faculty, administrative staff, and researchers.

“This blended learning model enables our community members to learn together, strengthening the social fabric of our community and promoting a philosophy of education for all that fosters a great sense of belonging at NYU Abu Dhabi,” said Gjidija.

Another student, Kavitha Kurup, 45, who has been working as a security guard at NYUAD since 2009, said she too pursued a course in the English language and that it has been so helpful to her.

“I was given an offer to study an English language programme at NYUAD, which I completed, and I am expecting to get a certificate. This programme has really helped me a lot and improved my communication skills,” she said, adding that she plans to pursue another programme.

“I would like to appreciate NYUAD’s corporate social responsibility programme and the university’s public safety management for giving us all kinds of support and encouragement,” said Kurup.

“We are all blessed to work for such an amazing institution.”


According to Gjidija, the university’s programming has met the expressed educational and social needs of staff contracted by NYUAD and domestic workers employed by our community members.

“It has enabled our contracted staff and domestic workers to develop their professional and personal skills so that their time spent at NYUAD not only provides them with an opportunity to support their families but also builds their capacity as contributing members of the NYUAD community, the UAE, and their communities at home,” she said.

The university plans to launch a new program on mental and preventative health next month. This will be the first time the university’s programming will be offered in another language (Hindi).

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