Alison wins EESC prize for Covid-19 information course
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.
The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the prize, saying that its project Coronavirus: What you need to know stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the Covid-19 crisis.
The course was launched in February 2020 and is based on guidelines from the WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.
The course covers many aspects of the disease in detail and offers advice on how to protect yourself. It was translated into more than 70 languages in less than four months, with the help of 5,000 volunteers, many of whom were immigrants. Approximately 350,000 people had completed the course as of September 2020, with some 100,000 people signing up for it in a single day.
The course is certifiable, which means people can assess how much they have learned at the end. Alison has previously organised courses on SARS, swine flu and Ebola. Its next task will be to come up with courses on learning to live with Covid-19.
“The EESC has repeatedly stressed that solidarity and targeted shared action are key to surviving such a pandemic,” said EESC vice-president for communication, Cillian Lohan. “The only effective response to a crisis such as this pandemic is to act quickly, decisively, and together. There are lessons here for dealing with other crises whether they are social, economic or environmental.
Civil society has been at the forefront of all solidarity actions and without their help on the ground, the price paid for this pandemic would be much higher. All the projects we received are proof of selfless citizen and grassroots engagement, showing the contribution of civil society in this fight to be enormous. With this prize, we are acknowledging the people and organisations making a difference in these unprecedented times. It is an honour to be able to celebrate together”.
The winners were selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organisations, individuals and private companies on five main themes: food supply and assistance to vulnerable groups, medical equipment, advisory services, educational services and information on the pandemic, and culture.
“As Europe’s largest free learning platform, we understood the opportunity and responsibility upon us to disseminate information and advice about the threat of Covid-19 in January 2020. A learning platform like Alison has the potential to spread certifiable information for the public good extremely quickly in multiple languages,” said Mike Feerick, CEO and founder.
“We particularly welcomed the help of Alison’s volunteers from Europe’s immigrant population, who helped with translations across the world. We see our work, and that of our volunteers, as not just part of an effort of Europeans helping fellow Europeans, but Europeans making a very positive civil society contribution across the world.”