Chhimi Dema

Three weeks after the labour ministry’s employment and human resource department opened Coursera, close to 1,500 Bhutanese have enroled in at least one course.

Coursera is a worldwide online learning platform that works with universities and organisations to offer online courses, specialisations and degrees in a variety of subjects.

Universities such as Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Columbia and organisations such as Google, Intel and IBM, among others, have partnered with Coursera to present a vibrant virtual learning opportunity.

The ministry’s chief programme officer, Tenzin Choden, said that the programme would target job seekers, workforce affected by the pandemic, and those working from home.

Of the total that have enroled for the Coursera courses, 23.2 percent are from the government sectors and 22.8 percent from non-government sectors; 22.3 percent are job seekers, 26.7 percent comprise those who returned from overseas and undergraduate students; and five percent constitute laid-off workers.

Based on current and last qualification, highest numbers of Bhutanese learners on Coursera are degree holders (48 percent); 26.3 percents are Class XII graduates; 11.3 percent have masters and above; 6.3 percent have vocational diploma; 4.4 percent are class X graduates; 1.5 percent are Class VIII graduates, 2 percent have vocational certificate, and 0.2 percent possess primary education qualification.

Online learning with Coursera is a response to the department’s  Critical Skills Training (CST) and Critical Capability Development (CCD) programs that are on hold.

Through CST jobseekers are provided skills for an easier transition to the working world and CCD provided support to enhance the skills of those engaged in various economic sectors.

CST for 951 beneficiaries and CCD for 320 beneficiaries are deferred because of the pandemic.

The Coursera courses are valid till December 31 and would allow free access to ten thousand individuals.

Similarly, a programme called ICT and Online Freelancing is being initiated by the department.

Tenzin Choden said that this programme would provide relevant skills through the use of ICT during the pandemic and develop human resource capacity to use global digital platforms. “The programme is aimed at fostering livelihood and income generation through online freelancing opportunities available in different global platforms.”