Microsoft renews commitment to education with $250m investment

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By EMEKA AGINAM

TO improve teacher skills, resources to improve student readiness for the global workforce, the global software giant at the just concluded Partners in Learning Global forum held in Prague, Czech Republic has restated its commitment to education with $250m n in five-year renewal of Partners in Learning (PiL).

Accordingly, this brings Microsoft’s total investment in the program to $750m over fifteen years underscoring the software\s giant commitment to serving the educator and learner first; while making sure teachers have the tools they need to prepare students for the jobs of the future.

The aims, according to Microsoft was to grow the PiL community to 20 million of the 75 million teachers worldwide by 2018 with the renewal and to continue preparing students for the changing global workforce.

Microsoft plans to expand PiL beyond the 119 countries that currently participate with a continued emphasis on driving community, developing networks and allowing educators to share innovations and learn from each other.

Microsoft’s annual Partners in Learning Global Forum, hosted in Prague in 2012 is the culmination of national and regional forums that recognize innovative educators and school leaders.

The 2012 Global forum brings together more than 500 of the most innovative teachers, education leaders and government officials from 75 countries.

Educators from seven African countries were among the 75 countries represented at the 2012 Global Forum.

They were from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. Teachers who attended  the forum were  global finalists who have made it through a progressively selective competition that started with more than 250,000 participants at national events.

They will compete for one of 18 Partners in Learning Global Forum Educator Awards.

“We see a significant opportunity to invest in the economy of tomorrow by working with educators today to teach 21st century skills,” Laura Ipsen, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector, said, adding that, “Studies have proven the significant impact a good teacher has on a student’s ability to gain employment and increase their incomes, which has a real impact on poverty and economic growth.  Our focus on PiL is the cornerstone of Microsoft’s commitment to empower youth, spark innovation in the classroom and improve learning outcomes globally.”

A strong education rooted in the skills and technology tools needed to enter the rapidly changing global workforce can lay a foundation for improving global economic outcomes Godelieve van den Brande, European Commission, DG of Education and Culture, said.

However, Microsoft’s commitment to education centers on providing training, resources and building community to support the teaching of 21st century skills to prepare today’s youth for the competitive global workforce.

“Transformation in educational practice is one of the most difficult things for schools and educators to achieve,” said .Jeff Davis, Executive Principal, Varsity College, Queensland, Australia. “Everyone talks of 21st century learning, but few have bridged the gap from theory into true innovative practice where students are actually using the technologies available on a daily basis and pedagogy shifts to a new domain.

Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program stands apart.  Not only does this program support schools and educators in making great leaps in bridging both the technical and pedagogical gaps, but the PiL program brings together those who have made this transformation leap and builds in them further capacity to become world leaders.

Without the support of PiL, the innovation, collaboration and achievement levels at this school would not have been realised as they are now. We thank Microsoft for their support and belief in our school.”

Meanwhile, research shows a strong connection between education and economic growth, and Partners in Learning is Microsoft’s global initiative to partner with educators and governments to advance student success through digital inclusion and innovative teaching practices.

Partners in Learning is a key program within Microsoft YouthSpark, a companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world, by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Through the PiL program, Microsoft has trained more than 11 million teachers and reached over 200 million students since 2003.

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