By EMEKA AGINAM
Microsoft Corp in recognition of the International Youth Day, has disclosed that no fewer than 1,000 talented young minds from Africa are expected to benefit from 4Afrika Scholarship program in the first phase of the pilot program beginning November this year.
Similarly, in the coming year, Microsoft also announced that it would provide 4Afrika Scholarships to 1,000 youth to pursue associate degrees in computer science and business administration with the first participating higher education institution, University of the People, an online university dedicated to the democratization of higher education which is affiliated with the United Nations, the Clinton Global Initiative, NYU and Yale Law School ISP.
For talented African students:
The program introduced today by the global software giant is part of its 4Afrika Initiative, through which it would provide mentorship, leadership and technical training, certification, university-level education and employment opportunities for promising and talented African students.
Although the number will increase subsequently, the first set of 4Afrika Scholarship students, the software maker said will begin classes November this year.
Accordingly, the capacity building program when implemented would offer mentorship, training, university-level education and employment opportunities to aspiring African youth.
However, mentorship would be provided by Microsoft employees from around the world, and employment opportunities will include internships and both part-time and full-time jobs within Microsoft as well as with the company’s more than 10,000 partners across Africa.
Helping millions of Africans get critical skills:
Through the company’s 4Afrika Initiative and YouthSpark program, Microsoft has committed to for entrepreneurship and employability. The 4Afrika Scholarship program is one way the company intends to meet that goal, by ensuring that promising youth have access to the education, resources and skills they need to succeed, regardless of their financial situation. To help redress gender disparity in higher education in Africa, the company is actively encouraging young women to apply.
Program to level playing field for talented African minds:
Speaking with Vanguard Hi-Tech through a conference call, Patrick Onwumere, director of youth enablement, Microsoft 4Afrika reassured that Microsoft was committed to empowering smart students from Africa including Nigeria with IT knowledge needed to face the 21st century society.
According to him, “Together with participating education institutions, Microsoft’s goal with the 4Afrika Scholarship program is to level the playing field for talented young African minds who might not otherwise have the resources, enabling them to get the education and skills they need to thrive in technology-related fields.
Designed to ensure that Africa is globally competitive:
“The 4Afrika Initiative was designed to help ensure that Africa can become globally competitive, and investing in our highly motivated youth is a critical step toward making that a reality.”
As part of the requirement for participation, he disclosed that students wishing to apply for these first 4Afrika Scholarships to attend University of the People must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma and proficient English, as all its coursework is English-language.
Applicants, according to him, must also have access to the Internet to be able to participate in the online classes.
To help address the connectivity issue, he assured that arrangements are being made to make available working space in its Microsoft Innovation Centers in Tunisia, Tanzania, Uganda and Botswana for successful applicants near those locations.
In addition, Microsoft he said was working with various partner hubs across Africa to make similar arrangements for students in other locations.
Also speaking, Shai Reshef, President of University of the People, said that Broadband will make the process more earlier especially in African countries where access still pose a challenge.
“Nigeria is no one in the list our important markets. The idea is to help talented students who are in financial needs. Every applicants can through University of People admission process. Some can also go through Microsoft scholarship scheme. University of the People works hard to ensure that university-level education is a possibility for the masses, and through the 4Afrika Scholarship program, Microsoft is helping us extend that possibility even farther in Africa
“We are proud to be working with Microsoft to help create amazing opportunities and open new doors for Africa’s youth.”, he explained.
Applications for 4Afrika Scholarships to University of the People, according to him can be submitted on the following site: www.uopeople.org/4afrika, while the 4Afrika Scholarship program can also be downloaded http://www.youth4afrika.com.