Chhimi Dema

In the last three and a half months, about 4,600 Bhutanese had joined Coursera, a worldwide online learning platform founded in 2012 that offers massive open online courses (MOOC), specialisations, degrees, professional and master track courses.

Through this collaborative programme, the labour ministry’s employment and human resources department strives to skill job seekers and workforce who are affected by the pandemic.

The learners took close to 46,000 online lessons from about 500 Coursera courses.

Popular courses that learners enrolled themselves in are computer science, business, information technology, language and data science, among others.

Most Bhutanese had enrolled in Python Programming, followed by excel skills for business.

Also, courses such as professional English writing, introduction to web development, and data analysis had higher number of enrolment.

Kinley Choden, a university graduate, said that she completed a course on technical support fundamentals under information technology course domain.

She said: “In this ‘fast-pacing’ digital world, the information technology’s (IT) components are changing. I took the course to keep a similar pace.”

The course taught her to troubleshoot and learn about common issues in electronic gadgets, she said.

The labour ministry’s chief programme officer, Tenzin Choden, said that the number of participants increased during the lockdown.

She said: “Through online learning, the unemployed participants will be able to increase their chances of getting gainful employment based on the knowledge and skills acquired.”

Neha Powrel, 23, said that she took a course on climate change mitigation in developing countries through the programme. “The online learning helped me learn beyond the classroom walls. It is also safer in the current situation.”

According to the learners’ feedback, 63.1 percent of learners rated the learning experience as excellent. The learning experience was rated poor by 1.9 percent.

The feedback shows that 98.1 percent of respondents were interested to continue online courses in the future. More than 300 respondents said that the high internet cost was an issue while taking the online course.

Majority of the respondents said that the objective of taking the online courses was for personal development. Learning skills to do better in a job and getting competent in the area of interests were other objectives for enrolling in Coursera.

Thinley, a university student, said that she completed more than 10 courses through the programme. She enrolled in courses such as contact tracing, Covid-19 science matters and animal welfare.

“Through the programme, I got access to various courses and recognitions,” she said.

Tenzin Choden said that labour ministry was exploring learning and skilling initiative on other online platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare.