This week, four schools and eight teachers from across sub-Saharan Africa were nominated amongst the world’s best as part of Microsoft’s 2014 class of Mentor Schools and the Inaugural Class of Expert Educators. These exclusive one year programmes recognise visionary educators who are using technology to improve student outcomes, equip them with 21st century skills, and who are paving the way for other teachers by demonstrating the effective use of technology in learning.
“At Microsoft, we strongly believe in the role that well-prepared educators play in helping today’s youth overcome the emerging opportunity divide and guiding them toward the education, skills and opportunities they need to prosper in the hyper-connected era,” says Djam Bakhshandegi, Director of Corporate Citizenship and Partners in Learning, West East, Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands.
Currently, nearly one in three people in sub-Saharan Africa are between the ages of 10 and 24. By 2050, this number is projected to double, according to the World’s Youth 2013 Data Sheet.
This is why it is essential now more than ever to invest in the education of youth in the region, which in turn, will improve the potential for economic growth and development.
The four schools were chosen from over 250 global applicants in 80 countries and include the Government Secondary School Jabi in Nigeria, the Agha Khan Academy in Kenya, Gayaza High School in Uganda and SARM State Secondary School in Mauritius.
“To be selected, schools must demonstrate a commitment to innovation and take advantage of technology to enhance the delivery of their lessons in creative and inspiring ways,” says Djam. “Over the years we’ve seen incredible advances in what educators are doing with technology. In the early years, using interactive whiteboards as a teaching tool was ground-breaking, now we are using 1:1 interactive, online education programs through mobile devices.”
Representing Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Mauritius, the eight teachers that were awarded Expert Educator status will attend the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain, in March next year. This forum is a hallmark educator recognition initiative, often hailed by educators as one of the best professional development experiences of their careers. “The goal is to showcase and celebrate amazing educators and schools who are positively impacting student learning,” says Djam. Winners will be able to collaborate with other leaders and ultimately create a vision for their school community.
As part of the class of Expert Educators, teachers will also be heavily involved in advising Microsoft on innovation in education. They will provide insights on new products and tools, and help the company understand how technology works – or does not work – in real-life classrooms.
Microsoft has been offering educator and school programmes for 10 years under the company’s signature education initiative, Partners in Learning, which helps teachers and schools around the world improve students’ experiences and skills through technology. With a firm conviction that every child deserves a quality education, and over $750 million dollars committed to date, Partners in Learning has already reached 12 million educators in 134 countries worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa over 13 million students have benefitted from the programme to date.
Partners in Learning falls under the Global YouthSpark initiative in addition to Imagine Cup, DigiGirlz, and DreamSpark, which all support Microsoft’s focus on the youth. The company has also signed an agreement with the University of the People to offer 1, 000 free scholarships to Africans as part of the 4Afrika Initiative. Launched in February this year, the Initiative is a new effort through which the company will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness.
“At Microsoft we are deeply committed to doing whatever it takes to effect a holistic transformation of learning. This isn’t transformation for the sake of change. Rather, it’s about making a real impact on educational outcomes and offering young people – regardless of circumstance — a chance at a promising future.”
List of teachers awarded Expert Educator status in sub-Saharan Africa
* Ikechukwu Chukwu, Abuja, Nigeria
* Veranique Obiakor, Abuja, Nigeria
* Ayodele Odeogbola, Nigeria
* David Muya, Kismumu, Kenya
* Hannington Ochieng, Nairobi, Kenya
* Papa Mamadou, Dakar, Senegal
* Anil Saccaram, Mauritius
* Chole Richard, Jinja, Uganda