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State Department will help support free education in over 30 countries

You're a smart kid in a poor country with subpar universities. Option #1: Leave to attend college somewhere else, like the US. Option #2: Go online and try to teach yourself.

Now, there's a middle path.

Beginning this fall, U.S. embassies around the world are hosting weekly discussions for students enrolled in free online courses, called MOOCs, in partnership with Coursera, the Silicon Valley–based platform with over 5 million users. Embassy employees and Fulbright fellows (Fulbright being an academic exchange program sponsored by the State Department) will volunteer to host the discussions. There will be over 30 sites to begin with, in countries like India, China, and Bolivia. Topics include English, science, technology, engineering, business, and U.S. civics.

"The State Department and USAID promote a more peaceful, prosperous world, and we all know one of the best ways to get there is to ensure that all people have access to high–quality education," says Meghann Curtis, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is running the "MOOC Camp" program. "We saw MOOCs as this great tool to achieve a number of goals," she says.

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