A new online platform that provides free access to education and training courses for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in County Leitrim has been launched. SaorEd is a collaborative initiative between three Irish non-profit organisations; Doras, New Horizon, and Dignity Partnership. It is built on the Kiron online learning platform which has been designed specifically for refugees and underserved communities and is already widely used in the Middle East and Europe.
SaorEd, available at www.saored.com, aims to provide free access to a range of entry-level and advanced courses. Initial offerings include English language courses, information technology (IT) skills, healthcare, and career preparation courses. The courses on offer are mostly in English, with some in Arabic. Navigation interfaces are available in Arabic and Farsi and those behind the venture hope to expand the range of courses and languages on offer.
SaorEd is intended to fill the gaps in existing education and training programmes. While free English language classes are provided by the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and others, for example, places on these are often difficult to obtain. Yet, language skills are essential for the integration and wellbeing of protection applicants and refugees.
SaorEd provides study programs using open online courses (MOOCs) from reputable education providers. The initial offerings are based on a survey of over 100 people who are in or have transitioned out of Direct Provision. Over the coming months, the platform will be extended to include courses in other areas that will help open pathways to employment and further education.
John Lannon, Doras CEO said “It is difficult for people living in remote areas, particularly Direct Provision centres, to access regular transport to attend in-person training. SaorEd can provide pathways to further education and employment for them.The platform is also of value to parents of young children who may not be able to access mainstream education during the day. It is also accessible to people who face financial barriers to education, who may not be entitled to the Back to Education Allowance, for example.”
Many of the SaorEd study programmes are offered exclusively to international protection applicants, with certificates provided to learners on completion. By providing open access to online learning opportunities, it ensures that free education is available at any time, in any place to underserved communities.
For more see www.saored.com
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