News Release

Providing a Pathway to Education in the Middle East and North Africa

Innovative online program helps students earn their degrees

An innovative program by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now helping hundreds of people in the Middle East move toward their educational goals.

An online program called BYU-Pathway Worldwide started in 2009 at Brigham Young University–Idaho with just 50 students in three sites. Today it serves approximately 60,000 students in more than 150 countries. In the Church’s Middle East/Africa North Area, over 300 students in 11 countries are currently participating in the program, which continues to grow in the region.

Many students who participate in the program have not had the opportunity for advanced education, so the program provides the opportunity for individuals to achieve that goal. The first part of the program, called PathwayConnect, involves three semesters of successful participation in classes that focus on life skills, math, writing and religion. At the conclusion of these semesters, students receive a certificate of completion and are eligible to apply to either Ensign College or BYU–Idaho to begin classwork that will lead them to a bachelor’s degree. The cost of the program is customized by location, but the average cost globally per credit is US$12.78, which means that Pathway students can complete a bachelor’s degree for approximately US$1,500.

The classes are all delivered online with students completing weekly assignments on their own and then meeting in a weekly online class with a teacher/coordinator and other students in their assigned cohort. In each class meeting, a different student is given the opportunity to lead the discussion after initial comments by the coordinator.

Classes are designed to provide students with a variety of learning experiences. Content-specific videos can be accessed multiple times to ensure that each person can learn at their own pace. The program also uses breakout sessions to provide opportunities for students to mentor and help each other with content that might be difficult. 

“Because students work and help each other, very strong friendships are built. It is beautiful to see what happens and how close they feel to one another,” PathwayConnect Coordinator Tamara Cannon said.

Cannon works with groups of students living in the Middle East and Northern Africa and described her role as a “cheerleader.” She said that they try to do everything with a spirit of love so that the participants can grow in confidence and know they can ask for help when they need it.

A young man named Olan was living in the United Arab Emirates when he joined the program and says that the experience has been eye-opening.

“Participation in Pathway gave me a totally different perspective on the purpose of education,” Olan said. “Rather than just being educated to help myself get a better job, this program helped me understand that education is part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us — that He wants us to use our education to help others.” 

Olan said he loved the cohort experience and the opportunity it gave students to work together so everyone could be successful. He particularly felt the videos used in the classes were exceptional because they provided students the chance to review concepts and skills until they were mastered. Olan has been admitted to BYU–Idaho, where he plans to continue his education.

A young woman named Valentina, who lives in the Middle East, learned about PathwayConnect while she lived for 18 months in England. When she returned home, she applied and was accepted into the program.

“When I returned to my home, I was fearful that I might feel alone again, but participation in Pathway has reminded me of my dreams and what I want to achieve,” Valentina said. “I have never been taught with a curriculum that is as organized as this one and, with a team of people to support you, it is easy.”

Valentina said she is really enjoying the experience and hopes to meet the people in her cohort in person someday.

Nadia, a young woman from Cameroon, recently completed PathwayConnect and is now beginning a degree program with BYU–Idaho. She learned about the program through friends in 2020 and was excited to have the opportunity to begin classes that would eventually lead to a bachelor’s degree. 

“Though some of the classes were hard for me, I am so grateful for the experience,” Nadia said. “I grew in two ways: spiritually and physically. I am closer now to my Heavenly Father. I am more prayerful, and I am more lifted in my faith. Physically, I am now able to do things I couldn’t do before. I have always been shy, but now I can stand before a group of people and speak. I am more independent. I am more confident in my ability to be a leader and to accomplish my goals.”

To learn more about Pathway Worldwide, please visit

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