Refugees trying to start their lives over in new places are about to have a whole host of new learning opportunities. The U.S. State Department announced Monday a collaboration with the free education site Coursera aimed at helping recent transplants access more than 1,000 massive open online courses, nicknamed MOOCs, according to a news release.
The program appeared to be live Monday morning at refugees.coursera.org. Timed to launch on World Refugee Day, the initiative is intended to give refugees a chance to gain "important skills that will help them in the global economy," Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, told reporters on a press call last week, Quartz reported.
Nonprofits around the world can apply to Coursera to get fee waivers that will fund refugees' participation in MOOCs, which are run by institutions like Stanford University. Refugee students themselves can also individually request financial aid to fully cover the cost of their classes, according to U.S. News and World Report.
So far, five organizations have been approved for financial aid: the U.S. Department of State, Samaschool, Libraries Without Borders, Blue Rose Compass and the Institute of International Education. Their programs variously focus on refugees in Kenya, Jordan, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Our mission is to transform lives by providing access to the world’s best education,” Lila Ibrahim, chief operations officer at Coursera, said in the release. “We know that one of the best ways to reach the people who need education opportunities the most is by working with organizations that understand the local needs. We’re excited to partner with these organizations, including the State Department, to provide refugees with comprehensive support as they take Coursera courses — at no cost — on anything from English to Python programming.”
Other courses available to refugees are focused in subjects like entrepreneurship, data science and social media marketing.
As of last December, more than 65.3 million people had left their homes, many of them due to violent conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Colombia and Ukraine, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.