African graduates of COL-Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative celebrated at virtual convocation

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19 August 2020, Burnaby, Canada – Over 2,300 learners from 17 African nations who had successfully completed online courses under the COL-Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative were recognised at a virtual convocation on 18 August 2020.

Along with the graduates, the event brought together COL’s President and CEO Professor Asha Kanwar, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda, as well as Botswana’s Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, The Honourable Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Education, Ms Gifty Twum Ampofo, and Namibia’s Minister of Art, Education and Culture, The Honourable Ms Ester Anna Nghipondoka.

“This virtual convocation is a sign of the times when we have had to adopt new models of teaching and learning practically overnight. Since the students can’t go to the university, the university is coming to the students,” said Professor Kanwar.

COL and Coursera partnered through the Workforce Recovery Initiative to help governments in the Commonwealth nations and beyond to provide those who have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 with the skills needed to re-enter the workforce. Registered learners have gained unlimited and free access to 3,800 courses taught by highly reputed professors and instructors from top universities and companies around the world. Over the last three months, in Africa alone, learners have collectively invested over 100,000 hours of learning.

“To all the students, you are living proof that learning has the power to transform lives, that it allows us to rethink what’s possible and to reimagine what we can become. You have demonstrated courage and commitment to learning even in the face of uncertainty and difficulty,” noted Mr Maggioncalda at the event.

The Honourable Dr Douglas Letsholathebe remarked on the timeliness of the new initiative and commended graduates for becoming an inspiration to others. According to Ms Gifty Twum Ampofo, the programme has helped equip citizens with the new skills to be relevant in the changing job market.

In a written statement, The Honourable Ms Ester Anna Nghipondoka called on the learners to embrace the new normal, the new methods of learning and make this learning meaningful.

Programme participants can complete course work through 31 December 2020, and graduates will be able to join regional alumni groups. COL and Coursera plan to host virtual convocations for learners from other regions of the Commonwealth.

Watch this video recognising programme graduates’ achievements.

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