First World Education Comes To Third World Countries with Free Classes

coursera students

Education has long been upheld as the key to success and a better life. For smart kids in poor countries though, gaining access to a good education can be near impossible.

That’s about to become a little less difficult in over 30 countries though with weekly video discussions called MOOCs for students enrolled in free online courses. U.S. embassies and Fulbright fellows (an academic exchange program sponsored by the State Department) have teamed up with Coursera, a Silicon Valley-based platform with over 5 million users, to host the discussions on topics like engineering, technology and civics.

What makes theses new forums for students so interesting is that many of the countries that the discussions will be taking place in like China and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, are not known for freedom of speech. Needless to say, there could be some barriers to overcome when discussing U.S. politics.

Still both students and representatives from the State Department are optimistic about the new step in bringing higher quality education to those that otherwise might be locked out of the classroom. “The State Department and USAID promote a more peaceful, prosperous world, and we all know one of the best ways to get there is to ensure that all people have access to high-quality education,” said Meghann Curtis, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Coursera will be tracking students’ success through the platform and providing video resources for the facilitators of the online program. Considering that roughly 90% of students who enroll in online courses created by professors at schools like Yale and Penn State don’t finish, backers of the program are hoping that the person-to-person video interaction among peers will boost success rates.

In addition to leaving to study abroad or trying teach oneself online, this program now offers a third option for students looking to enhance their education.

Via FastCompany

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