By Matthew Klein, Head of Coursera for Government
At Coursera, we believe that anyone, anywhere should have access to top-quality education.
Across the globe last year, over 65 million people were displaced from their homes, due to conflict or persecution. In addition to refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East, an estimated 700,000 refugees have fled Myanmar to neighboring countries. As the Syrian civil war has raged, over 5 million people have fled Syria.
We launched Coursera for Refugees in 2016 to bring high-quality education to the populations who need it most. For the past two years, Coursera for Refugees has provided free access to our entire library of courses to any refugee in the world, enabling them to earn recognized credentials from top universities.
We have now reached over 11,000 refugees through this program globally. Some have benefited from taking several components of courses; others have taken courses to completion, receiving over 8,913 recognized credentials in subjects ranging from language skills to data science to leadership.
Further, we’ve partnered with 22 organizations and non-profits to ensure we can reach and provide support to refugees in every corner of the globe. Some of these partners, like the U.S. Department of State and the UN Refugee Agency, work daily with refugees in camps around the world. Others, like Upwardly Global, build pathways to refugee employment, connecting individual refugees with mentorship and job placement opportunities in the United States. NGOs like Kiron Open Education are building bridges to opportunities in higher education, ensuring that refugee graduates are accepted into German universities, as pathways to both citizenship and employment. Coursera for Refugees serves learners in 115+ countries, making this a truly global effort; you can learn more about the program here.
Coursera was founded on the belief that anyone, anywhere, should have access to the world’s education. Education is not just a human right; it has the power to transform lives. While many in the developed world have the greatest access to high-quality education, it is often the most marginalized that come to Coursera with a desire to learn and can benefit the most. The courage and determination involved in uprooting and rebuilding one’s life is exceptional, and better support systems are needed to ensure that refugees can access retraining for job opportunities in new countries and communities.
Today on World Refugee Day, we encourage other companies globally to act as well. We commend Starbucks’ leadership in committing to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in over 75 countries. Likewise, Chobani and its CEO Hamdi Ulukaya have committed $700 million to support refugees around the world. As our peer companies recognize the quality of refugee hires, Coursera is proud to play a role in helping refugees successfully build their competencies to access employment opportunities across the world.9