Coursera partners with UK government to provide free modern skills training for girls in developing countries

Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, we are thrilled to announce that Coursera has joined forces with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and ten other partners to deliver a £20 million programme to improve girls’ access to education and employment in developing countries. 

The UK’s first education partnership of its kind, Girls’ Education Skills Partnership (GESP), will deliver high-quality skills training to around 1 million girls, initially in Nigeria and Bangladesh. The initiative will focus on equipping girls with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills needed in in-demand sectors such as technology and manufacturing. The UK government is contributing an initial £9 million to GESP, with businesses providing £11 million in total. 

“Ensuring every girl and young woman across the globe receives 12 years of quality education is the greatest tool in our armoury to end the world’s great injustices. Delivering on this mission will be one of the best defences against ignorance, ensure the greatest protection from prejudice and put a rocket booster behind our hopes and dreams for global development in the years to come.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, March 8, 2022. 

As part of this initiative, Coursera will provide 10,000 scholarships to complete entry-level Professional Certificates at no cost. Taught by industry leaders like IBM, Google, Meta, and Intuit, these certificates prepare learners with no college degree or industry experience to enter high-growth careers like IT support, data analytics, and social media marketing. 

The UK Government notes that private sector involvement will help to ensure that the training delivered corresponds to the requirements of employers. Other partners in the initiative include Unilever, Pearson, PwC, Microsoft, Accenture, Standard Chartered, United Bank for Africa, Vodafone, BP and Cognizant. 

In the UK, we saw the share of enrolments from women in online STEM courses on Coursera increase from 34% pre-pandemic to 41% as of June 2021. While hopeful trends are emerging, we still have important work to do to ensure young women and girls have equal access to economic opportunity in the modern workforce. Institutional collaboration initiatives like GESP that provide flexible, affordable pathways for women to advance their education and careers will be crucial to addressing gender workplace gaps in the digital economy. 

For more information about Coursera for Government, visit

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