Microsoft gets girls into ICT
SOFTWARE| Sept. 4, 2012, 7:38 a.m.
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Microsoft employees are visiting Malawi to roll out a targeted ICT education training drive as part of their global community service initiative.
Running for a second year now, this Malawi Learning Partnership (MLP) is a community networking project using ICT tools to connect students and teachers giving them access to critical learning resources.
A group of 15 highly motivated and passionate employees from Microsoft’s Customer Service and Support (CSS) team across Europe, Middle East and Asia and the United States, have volunteered their personal time to work on training teachers to set up their own computer labs and maintain the Malawi Learning Partnership network.
John Nielsen, General Manager of Microsoft’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Customer Service and Support leading the Malawi team says they will also host five of what they are calling ‘DigiGirlz’ events.
“These are training courses for female students on Microsoft products, as well as an IT Master class, for high school students interested in pursuing a career in IT,” he said.
The five Digigirlz events took place at St Andrew’s International School and Fisherman’s Rest in Rural district of Chikhwawa where they had to use generators for the computers where high school girls underwent a better understanding of technology-based careers.
Nielsen explained that over five days, approximately 100 girls from Blantyre gained confidence in their IT skills, using Microsoft PowerPoint to develop presentations, the visual programming language, Kudo, to write a computer game and web design programme, Microsoft Expression Web, to create a basic web page.
“The students will present their final projects to each other and a winning team will be chosen at the end of the event,” he explained.
Chris Scutt, facilitator of the project, who is also Head of eLearning at St Andrew’s Secondary School, said in Malawi, there is a tendency for poorer families to prioritise the education of boys over that of girls.
“The Digigirlz events are great because they give young girls a taste of the type of jobs they can pursue in the technology industry and the realisation that they can achieve much more than they might believe,” he says.
An IT Masterclass has also be held at St Andrew’s International school for older high school children who are interested in pursuing a career in IT.
The Masterclass combines discussions around more advanced topics like cloud technology and emerging technologies with career advice from senior Microsoft executives.
“Good training is important so teachers can help each other and assist the Malawi Learning Partnership team in running the network,” says Nielsen.
“Computer maintenance in Malawi is particularly difficult due to an unreliable electricity supply, dust, and high incidents of virus infections. Our training programme aims to help teachers understand how to address problems caused by these conditions in order to be self-sufficient.”
Teachers who attended the networking training from August 27 to August 30 were drawn from Blantyre Secondary School, Chichiri, Soche Hill, Ngumbe, St Patrick’s, Malamulo, MDF Secondary School, Domasi Institute of Education and Jacaranda Private Orphans.
Scutt says they are excited that the Microsoft team is back to continue the work they did last year.
“By training more teachers to use the network and use technology in the classroom, the schools in Blantyre will be able to integrate much more closely, and more teachers and students gain access to new learning tools and ideas,” says Scutt.
Over the next week, the Microsoft volunteers will provide training to 23 teachers from 13 different schools on how to set up their own school IT labs, basic troubleshooting and computer maintenance.
These projects are part of Microsoft’s global response to bridging the opportunity divide recently highlighted in the ‘Opportunity for Action’ report released by the International Youth Foundation, which outlines actions to better prepare the 1.2 billion global youth entering the 21st century workforce.
Nielsen explained that the CSS team are experienced in a broad range of both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies, and by bringing their expertise to Malawi they hope to support the country’s National Education Sector Plan to facilitate the adoption of new approaches to teaching and the improvement of teacher training.
The Malawi Learning Partnership (MLP) launched last year through eight local pilot schools and has since expanded to include a total of eight schools.
The system is built using Microsoft software and Features that include: Provision of an ISP connection to host and connect schools to each other (Access Communications 3G network), An interactive web page for students to log in to, access resources and share files (Sharepoint), Email (MS Exchange), Online meeting facilities (Live Meeting), An electronic resource bank containing learning resources and an offline copy of Wikipedia, Antivirus protection.
MORE SOFTWARE NEWS
Microsoft reveals Windows 10 launch plansMicrosoft has shared details for the rollout of Windows 10, starting on July 29, which includes a new Upgrade Your World initiative to celebrate people and organizations making a difference around the world. Read More
Signal Alliance, Microsoft take cloud solutions to MANSignal Alliance in conjunction with Microsoft recently organized a forum with Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to showcase solutions that will drive productivity, meet operating objectives and enhance business continuity in manufacturing companies. Read More
Infoblox introduces free tool for getting started with IPv6Infoblox Inc., the network control company, today introduced Infoblox 6Map, a free interactive tool to help network administrators and network architects get started with planning the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. Read More
Chams unveils ConfirmMe for ease of identity verificationChams Plc, Nigeria’s leading identity management firm, has unveiled identity verification software called ConfirmMe to the Nigerian public at the company’s headquarters in Lagos. Read More
SystemSpecs begins Remita Corporate Champions CupNigeria’s leading information communication technology (ICT) power house, SystemSpecs, has flagged off this year’s edition of its sporting event, Remita Corporate Champions Cup. Read More
Sage ERP Africa partners with Datalinx to offer embedded warehouse management solutionSage ERP Africa has signed a distribution agreement with Datalinx, offering customers in Africa and the Middle East access to a range of integrated warehousing solutions. Read More
ICT skills in Kenya to grow as ICT Authority and Microsoft sign MOUKenya’s ICT Authority and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will, among other things, see Microsoft offer support in providing a platform that will enable ICT skills training for up to 300 000 teachers. Read More
Mark Bannerman named Country Manager for Red Hat in Sub-Saharan AfricaRed Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the appointment of Mark Bannerman to country manager for Red Hat in sub-Saharan Africa. Read More
VMware unveils next wave of innovation for applications and desktop virtualization in Horizon 6VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, has announced a new release of VMware Horizon 6. Read More
FEATURED STORYBatswana dragging feet in digital migration
More than a month after the deadline for the digital migration from analogue television, few people have shown any pronounced enthusiasm in entering the new digital TV realm.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAs curtain falls on MDGs, what next?
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.
COMPANY NEWSMTN Business App of the Year submissions closed
Entries for the annual MTN Business App of the Year Awards taking place on 13 August in Johannesburg have closed, and an expert panel of judges that is adjudicating ...