New online learning platform to provide free courses to migrants and refugees

English lessons, IT classes and career-preparation courses among those on offer

A new online platform that provides free access to education and training courses for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds throughout Ireland has been launched.

SaorEd, a collaborative initiative between three Irish non-profit organisations, has been designed specifically for refugees and under-served communities.

It aims to provide free access to entry-level and advanced courses, including English language courses, IT skills, healthcare and career-preparation courses.

The initiative is built on an online platform, Kiron, already used in the Middle East and Europe. 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.

The initial course offerings are based on a survey of more than 100 people who are in or have transitioned out of direct provision. Over the coming months, the platform will be expanded.

John Lannon, chief executive of one of the partner organisations, Doras, said there are "too many obstacles" to education for refugees and asylum seekers.

“Education is a doorway to inclusion, connection and dignity. It opens up doorways of possibility and opportunity that are so critical for people who are often fleeing war, poverty and persecution,” Mr Lannon said.

Alongside Doras, the other non-profit organisations involved are New Horizon and Dignity Partnership.

Rosemary Kunene, chief executive of Dignity Partnership, a social enterprise that provides self-employment and internship support services to people in direct provision, said education was the "key to unlocking talents".

Gerry Callaghan, chairman of the board of New Horizon, said the new platform is "an opportunity for people to access learning opportunities that may otherwise not be open to them due to cost, distance, childcare or language barriers".

Certificates are provided to learners on completion of one of the online courses. The courses have open access, meaning they are available at any time and in any place.

More information is available on saored.com.