Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

How Commonwealth of Learning Enriches Lives in Impoverished Countries

Ergebnisse dank Udemy Business

Citizens access better employment opportunities
Adoption rate

Infos zur Fallstudie

Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes open, flexible, and technology-enabled learning. Created by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1987, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) helps Member States and institutions harness the potential of distance learning and technologies to expand access to education and training and address the education challenges of today. For COL, learning is the key to sustainable development and must lead to opportunities for economic growth, social inclusion and environmental conservation.

Close the educational opportunity gap in Southeast Asia and Africa

In 2019, COL Advisor for Skills Dr. Basheerhamad Shadrach and his team needed to transition learning partners and local NGO in those countries and empower its citizens.

Technical, vocational, educational, and training (TVET) institutions in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and Bangladesh offer locals an opportunity to earn professional certifications or qualifications. Unfortunately, access to TVETs in these countries is limited.

“For every 100 people who apply for a TVET education, only five are admitted,” says Dr. Shadrach. “Without any formal education or training, those who are left out get on with their life and make some kind of livelihood. They end up as apprentices, informal workers, and semi-skilled laborers. And many end up trapped in poverty.”

Dr. Shadrach and his team at COL wanted to make those hopes and dreams of a better life become reality. “We have the mandate to help governments and institutions scale,” he says. “But there’s only so much they can do on their own.” TVET institutions lack the infrastructure and resources needed to accept more applicants.

But, according to Dr. Shadrach, these limitations could be overcome by switching from face-to-face to online training. With that in mind, they looked for a learning platform that would expand educational opportunities to those in need and empower them to control their destiny.

It was important to find a flexible online learning platform to help learners develop skills on demand.
Dr. Basheerhamad Shadrach
COL Advisor for Skills

A platform and a partner to change 6,000 lives

Dr. Shadrach and his team evaluated national and international learning platforms. They hoped to find a solution that would serve a wide range of learners, allowing them to choose relevant subjects and learn at their own pace. “It was important to find a flexible online learning platform to help learners develop skills on demand,” says Dr. Shadrach.

It was equally important that learners achieve their outcomes. “Some learners want to get better jobs or promotions,” he says. “Others want to learn how to start their own business.”

Motivate and enable first-time learners

Many of the learners in COL programs are new to online learning and need motivation to complete courses. With Udemy’s approach to skills development through self-paced learning, COL was able to deliver.

“Many online learning providers offer self-paced learning,” says Dr. Shadrach. “But Udemy’s course selection stood out to us. They had something directly applicable and appealing to all of our learners.”

Six months after adopting Udemy Business, Dr. Shadrach is confident they made the right decision. “Today we have around 5,090 active learners,” he says. “They get a sense of progress and accomplishment from small, manageable lectures.”

Offer courses to match local needs and interests

In addition to offering more variety on-demand, Udemy Business directly helped TVET institutions reach a wider audience online.

“We’ve been able to help instructors from Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and Bangladesh to create courses that are relevant to the local audiences,” says Dr. Shadrach.

Thanks to Udemy, TVET institutions don’t have to struggle with technology, learning management systems, and other infrastructure issues. Instead, they can focus on what they’re passionate about — instruction, pedagogy, and delivery of courses.

According to Dr. Shadrach, these partnerships will help COL extend their reach from nearly 6,000 learners to 600,000.

Help mothers reenter the workforce

Women in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and Bangladesh face different challenges than men. When they become pregnant, expecting mothers need to leave their jobs and often struggle with returning to the workforce.

Nahid Sultana, a 34-year-old mother and software developer in Bangladesh, was one of these women. “I lost my income after becoming a mother,” she says. “And with limited free time, it was difficult to keep my skills relevant for my job sector.”

In early 2020, Sultana came across a social media post about an e-learning scholarship through a COL partner institution. “After taking the courses I needed and obtaining certifications, I had the skills and confidence I needed to reach out to my old employer and also to apply for new job opportunities.”

Dr. Shadrach says that roughly 40% of COL learners are women. Many of them, like Nahid Sultana, have been given a lifeline through the partnership with Udemy Business.

Quantifying the impact

In the middle of December 2019, Dr. Shadrach and his team set goals for the number of active users (6,000) and a target adoption rate (80%). But while the number of active numbers is still growing towards their objective, the adoption rate has far exceeded any of their expectations.

“We originally thought an 80% adoption rate — at the very least — would be a great outcome. But now we’re at 84%.” says Dr. Shadrach. “When we speak to our partners they are looking at 95% as their adoption rate. They’re more ambitious than us. But we’ll support them nonetheless.”

COL began surveying learners to measure the impact of the program. Did it make a difference in finding employment, getting promotions, or starting a new business? What they learn will inform their next move.

“This is a new relationship with Commonwealth of Learning and Udemy — one we want to be replicated through more investment,” says Dr. Shadrach. “Now is the time for us to communicate success and demonstrate how it’s impacted the lives and labor options for people compared to six months ago.”

Many online learning providers offer self-paced learning. But Udemy’s course selection stood out to us. They had something directly applicable and appealing to all of our learners.
Dr. Basheerhamad Shadrach
COL Advisor for Skills

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