In the year since December 2022, the Taliban have banned women and girls in Afghanistan from universities. In response to this, FutureLearn, a leading UK-based provider of online courses, offered women and girls in Afghanistan free access to its premium digital learning platform for the duration of the Taliban’s restrictions.
Over the past twelve months, women and girls with internet access have been able to study short educational content delivered in partnership with the best of British higher education at no cost to themselves.
“As an Afghan girl this course was an opportunity for me to keep studying and working” said Learner A, whose name has been anonymised, “because now in Afghanistan I don’t have access to my basic rights. I can’t study, can’t work, can’t be the person who I want to be”.
Since launching the initiative, FutureLearn have received over 33,000 enrolments in Afghanistan, 14,000 of which came from learners who had never previously accessed the platform. Four of the top five courses by enrollment figures were English language courses.
Learner B, who studied the FutureLearn and Kings College, London course: Basic English 1: Elementary, said “I was very happy to [join] this course, in this situation in Afghanistan. I understand new lessons, [and] now my English level [is] getting better than [in the] past”.
Restrictions on education remain prevalent in Afghanistan. Learner C, who studied Irish 101: An Introduction to Irish Language and Culture explained “The night I found such an educational opportunity from such a world renowned course […] I was very happy. I found a key to the educational gate, it gave me hope, just like I found a light in the dark”.
Ian Howell, Managing Director of FutureLearn, said: “At FutureLearn, we believe that education is a basic human right, and we remain committed to breaking down barriers that prevent access to education throughout the globe.
There is still plenty of work to be done, and FutureLearn will continue to offer access to the platform for free to women and girls in Afghanistan, until the ban on education is lifted”.
If you are a woman based in Afghanistan and would like more information about free subscriptions, please visit our Help Centre.
For more information on FutureLearn, please visit www.futurelearn.com.