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First MOOC in Kurdish launched in Erbil, Iraq

The first MOOC delivered in Kurdish has been launched to boost skills training and strengthen the local economy in northern Iraq.

Courses in Kurdish and Arabic are available in areas including tourism, food safety and customer service

These resources are the first of their kind to be produced in Kurdish for free online access - a milestone in the educational development of the Kurdish people

Free online courses covering food safety, tourism studies, human resource management and customer service on the online platform Alison, have been translated into Kurdish and Arabic.

Organisers, which include USAID, Alison, Cihan University in Erbil and Silatech, a social initiative working with young Arabs, hope the initiative will assist development in the region’s workforce.

“Actually the wireless connections out of Iraq are quite good”

“It’s essentially an oil town so an awful lot of skill sets would be around refineries and that, there’s very few soft skills and things like customer service,” Ireland-based Alison’s CEO Mike Feerick told The PIE News. “Basic business etiquette – there’s a scarcity of that.”

Silatech and USAID chose the courses and then approached Alison, which has certified over 600,000 students through its online portal launched in 2005, to partner with Cihan for the translations.

Despite the nearby conflict, Feerick said the infrastructure is in place to allow access to the online courses. “Actually the wireless connections out of Iraq are quite good,” he explained. “Access is becoming less and less of an issue right across the world.”

The courses will also be available on an employability portal sponsored by Silatech, Foras-Jobs.com, and organisers are hoping to attract between five and 10 thousand enrolments.

Alison has also launched a home page in Arabic and Kurdish to attract more students to enrol.

Yehia Houry, the Silatech project manager, said the initiative is a significant development within the Kurdish and Arabic education landscape.

“To our knowledge, these resources are the first of their kind to be produced in Kurdish for free online access – a milestone in the educational development of the Kurdish people.”

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