By Rebecca Taber, Director of Government & Nonprofit Partnerships
One year ago today—on June 20, World Refugee Day, 2016—Coursera and the U.S. State Department officially launched Coursera for Refugees, our initiative to provide online education at no cost to refugees around the world.
We’re thrilled to announce that, in just one year, we’ve reached more than 5,000 refugees. This number is small compared to the scope of the global refugee crisis, but we hope it’s just the beginning.
As a company with a mission to help anyone, anywhere transform their life through access to education, we want to help refugees build career skills, transition into new communities, and find fulfillment during an immensely challenging time in their lives. We know we can’t do this alone; which is why, through Coursera for Refugees, we’ve partnered with incredible nonprofits that specialize in working with refugees around the world.
Since we launched Coursera for Refugees last June, we have:
- Provided more than 5,000 refugees with access to courses, for a total of more than 5,900 individual course enrollments.
- Supported refugee learners in earning more than 1,300 Course Certificates from top universities, logging more than 30,000 learning hours across 800+ courses.
- Partnered with more than 30 major nonprofits, including Save the Children, Upwardly Global, and Kiron Open Higher Education.
- Added subtitles in Arabic and other languages to dozens of courses, in partnership with our Global Translation Community and Tarjama, a leading Arabic language solutions provider.
- Provided our partners and the refugees they serve with access to Coursera’s full suite of enterprise features—including curated courses, Certificates, detailed progress reports, and a community portal.
But the numbers only tell part of the story; for us at Coursera, the most meaningful part of this experience has been hearing the stories of individuals who’ve benefited from Coursera for Refugees. Stories like that of Hadi, a 22 year-old Syrian refugee living in Turkey, who is now applying skills from the courses he’s taken on Coursera to manage projects that teach non-violent communication to young refugees. Hadi told us that building new skills has helped him feel engaged in his community. “Everyday I’m learning and integrating my work on the ground with my Coursera courses.” he says. “By learning, I can be an active citizen wherever I am.”
We’re proud of these accomplishments. But we also know we’ve barely scratched the surface of this complex and pressing global challenge. Over the next year, we’ll continue to expand our efforts by onboarding new nonprofit partners, reaching more learners with our current partners, adding more course subtitles, and continuing to learn how we can best support refugees who enroll in courses on Coursera.
So far, the most popular course topics among our refugee learners are English, computer science, and project management. But we’ve noticed one popular course that stands out from the rest: How to Change the World, offered by Wesleyan University. We’re deeply inspired by these learners who remain optimistic about positive change despite facing huge challenges, and we’re grateful to have the support of our partners and community in helping them realize their visions for a better world.
Want to help? You can recommend Coursera for Refugees or Coursera for Governments and Nonprofits to organizations in your network, or join our Global Translator Community to assist with subtitle translations.4