Free Online Classes Helping Refugees Throughout the World
Amy Wang of Learn to Earn reported that, “Today (June 20) the State Department will announce a partnership with online education platform Coursera that allows refugees around the world to take thousands of online courses for free.”
After going through all sorts of problems to get out of their respective countries, refugees faced formidable challenges in the countries where they resettle.
Finding jobs is frequently hard due to cultural and language barriers.
Often, refugees have to pursue other careers to get employed. Online learning is what the US State Department saw as a viable solution.
One of the largest online education providers that offers Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), is truly an excellent choice. Lila Ibrahim, Coursera’s Chief Operations Officer has the heart for refugees.
In a press conference the week before, Lauren Camera of Education Reporter noted Ibrahim said,
“As a first-generation American, I think about my parents’ journey. I wouldn’t be here today if they didn’t have the opportunity to enter this country and get a good education.”
Camera also quoted Ibrahim, “She’s imagined, she said, what it would be like showing up on the shore of a new country, faced with a new culture, new language and new ways of doing everything.”
Adding to those struggles would be having prospective employers not recognize or understand your previous work experience and achievements.
Earlier on at the orphanage in Lebanon, Ibrahim has established computer labs.
This is where her father was raised. Ibrahim asked,
“So where do you start?” That was really where we came up with the idea to partner and develop programs that better serve people with these needs. We want to do more with refugees, and we can’t do it alone.”
In addition to its partnership with the State Department, Coursera will also work with three other partners to provide needed skills to various refugees adjust better into their host countries.
The initial activity on this regard was made by Coursera on the recent World Refugee Day by announcing its Coursera for Refugees program with its four partners.
This Coursera mission program may not be affected at all by a change on its platform.
Partrick Allan, a staff writer of Lifehacker.com reported yesterday that Coursera is shutting down their old platform on June 30, and removing dozens of courses in the process.
Coursera will also make it possible for any nonprofit organizations working with refugees to apply for one year of financial aid that could finance courses for refugees.
An individual online portal can be accessed by nonprofits to monitor the learning of refugees on the courses they are taking and to share best practices with other nonprofits.
Officials of Coursera may also provide total financial assistance for refugees interested to apply for particular courses by themselves.
Some particular plan activities of Coursora are the following: provide English-language instruction to refugees at the US Embassy in Lebanon; partner with Libraries Without Borders in its work with refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo; partner with the Institute of International Education in its work with refugees in Jordan.
There are doubts on what these online courses can achieve.
The reality though is that most courses offered would facilitate learning of life skills. Refugees would expectedly improve their skills in communicating and socializing as well as learning the language of the host country.