March 29, 2016

Microsoft, Ethiopian govt to transform education through technology

By Emeka Aginam
Students, teachers and learning institutions in Ethiopia will soon be transforming the way they learn and teach through ICT as the technology giant, Microsoft and the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia have signed an Education Transformation Agreement.

The agreement, driven by Microsoft’s shape the future initiative, would promote inclusive digital access, encourage innovative and creative thinking, develop critical 21st century skills, and build the capacity of local teachers.

To achieve this, learning institutions will receive access to tools including Office 365 Education, Online learning programs including BizSpark, DreamSpark and Kodu Game Lab, Certification programs for educators including Imagine Academy, Support and consulting services, Affordable licencing options, among others.

Before now, Microsoft, through its Partners in Learning initiative, has signed similar agreements with other African countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Botswana and Namibia.

Through Partners in Learning, Microsoft has impacted over 13 million students in sub-Saharan Africa to date.

“The Education Transformation Agreement will help us refine and implement a national ICT in Education strategy,” Dr.Kaba Urgessa, State Minister for Higher Education in Ethiopia, aid, adding that, “Our economic competitiveness as a country depends on how our schools and universities use ICT to prepare students for the modern workplace. The agreement will ensure that our technology investments are used to support our broader national education goals.”

According to the African Economic Outlook, 10 to 12 million youth are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade.

However, in the youth labour market of 36 African countries, there is still a 54% mismatch between the skills of job seekers and employers’ requirements.

“When bringing ICT into Ethiopian classrooms, our focus will be on aligning our education programs with industry requirements and employer demands,” Ali Faramawy, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Middle East and Africa, said, adding that, “Localised content and empowered teachers play a crucial role in this. While ICT can indeed have a profound impact on student learning, that impact needs to be mediated by other factors, including educators.”