Microsoft and the Ministry of Education Republic of Rwanda have signed an agreement to transform learning, further innovation and develop employment skills among students and educators in Rwanda, through Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme.
The two parties recognize the need to improve access to and use of information and communications technology (ICT) in primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education as well as the value of technology in schools. Through the agreement they seek to jointly improve the use of ICT for the support of teaching and learning.
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 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.
“At Microsoft, we strongly believe in the role ICT can play in bridging the emerging opportunity divide and guiding youth toward the education, skills and opportunities they need to prosper in the hyper-connected era. Our aim is to help learners and educators throughout the world realize their full potential” says Microsoft Country Manager for East and Southern Africa, Eric Odipo.
There are still numerous challenges to be overcome in order to disseminate the use of ICT in education in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, according to a report by the Rwandan Ministry of Youth and ICT, only 6% of primary schools and 18% of secondary schools are currently connected to the internet and the computer to students’ ratio in secondary schools is currently 40 to 1.
“The Ministry is open to embracing new approaches to teaching and learning to further education quality and the use of technology is at the centre of these approaches. I believe the Partners in Learning Agreement will enhance our capacity to address most issues in education quality.” adds Hon. Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Education.
The Ministry will engage stakeholders for effective ICT in education strategies and in addition to Partners in Learning, Microsoft will spearhead these strategies through various projects. For instance:
- · Helping the government to provide access to students through programmes and services like Office 365
- · Offering recognition, and striving to make educators feel valued through programs like Microsoft’s Innovative Educators
- · Providing encouragement and inspiration to students through programs such as Imagine Cup, DreamSpark, Kodu, DigiGirlz, which all aim to get students excited about careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics)
- · Providing career advancement opportunities through Microsoft’s IT Academy certification.
Odipo adds that the partnership will ensure delivery of services and experiences that bring learning to life in and out of the classroom, allowing education leaders to reimagine how technology can modernize learning.
“Office 365 for education allows educators and students access to an extensive collaborative environment which extends teaching and learning within and beyond the classroom. It enables students and educators to work in real time on assignments and group projects, easily share information, and view and edit documents in a browser or in Office”,.
“The agreement reiterates Microsoft’s belief in empowering the youth in Africa and that this investment can have real impact on the continent and global stage,” adds Akaliza Gara who has recently been appointed as one of the 4Afrika Advisory Council Youth Members.
Partners in Learning also falls under the Global YouthSpark initiative in addition to Imagine Cup, DigiGirlz, and DreamSpark, which all support Microsoft’s focus on the youth across sub-Saharan Africa. The agreement with the Rwandan Ministry of Education follows similar agreements that have been signed in Kenya and Uganda.