Free online university courses from recognised international universities will soon be available to certain Johannesburg residents.

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The free online university courses program was announced by the City of Johannesburg executive major, Parks Tau during his State of the City Address yesterday at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein. The courses will primarily be aimed at underprivileged youth who are struggling to find employment because of their lack of education. The city has a particular problem when it comes to education, with only 13% of the residents possessing a tertiary or post-matric qualification or training. The program aims to provide free tertiary education to those who cannot afford the high fees usually associated with university courses. The courses will be accessible through certain public libraries around the city. The program has already been rolled out to 40 underprivileged Johannesburg youths, with the aim of enrolling hundreds more.

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The participating universities include Australian University, The University of Adelaide, Rice University, the prestigious Wharton Business School in the USA as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Tau went on to explain that the free online university courses form part of Johannesburg’s digital economy program, which includes the roll-out of free Wi-Fi across the city, with high-speed broadband having been launched in public areas in Braamfontein. Young business owners will work together with the City of Johannesburg to improve the city’s digital economy and provide WiFi to underpriveleged members of the community. Tau stated that 3 000 young business owners and entrepreneurs, together with the University of Johannesburg, will be providing digital literacy training to the community as part of the city’s Digital Ambassadors program.