The first free online training courses in the Kurdish language have been officially launched on Alison.com this week.

The self-paced courses cover food safety, tourism studies, human resource management and customer service and were developed in collaboration with USAID/Foras, Silatech, a regional social initiative promoting employment opportunities for Arab youth, and Cihan University in Irbil, Iraq.

The courses are designed assist the development of modern workplace skills in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The Kurdish translation of the resources was completed by Cihan University. The resources have also been translated into Arabic.

“Free online learning has a hugely influential role to play in upskilling people in regions of the world where traditional educational and training offerings are not available or hard to access,” said Alison CEO and founder, Mike Feerick.

“Anyone anywhere can participate in the free online learning revolution, enabling them and their communities to become more economically competitive and independent.”

Alison has created a Kurdish version of its website to help promote the programme.

USAID/Foras manager Tess Bertani said the launch of the free training resources in Kurdish will assist the development of the local workforce in Northern Iraq. “We commend the excellent work of the Alison, Silatech and Cihan University teams. It is hopefully just the beginning of a process that will see the Kurdish region of northern Iraq enhance their skills and adopt online learning as a core channel for further and future education.”

The Silatech involvement came as part of the rollout of the www.ta3mal.com employability platform which is being provided across the MENA region in partnership with Microsoft, with the online learning platform provided by Alison. “After 12 months of intense work, it is tremendous to see these resources being launched,” said Yehia Houry, the Silatech project manager. “These skills can now be accessed and developed by thousands of local Kurdish learners – a significant development within the Kurdish and indeed Arabic education landscape.”

“To our knowledge, these resources are the first of their kind to be produced in Kurdish for free online access – a milestone in the educational development of the Kurdish people.”