Providing future-ready education in Africa a top priority for Microsoft
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the horizon, the World Economic Forum predicts that over a third of the most important workplace skills will change over the next five years. One of the most important and tough tasks educators are faced with is preparing students for the workplace of the future.
With an IDC study showing that proficiency in Office is the fourth most in-demand skill needed for the best jobs of the future, following oral and written communication skills, problem solving and integrity, Microsoft is focused on ensuring that African students have access to this technology, and can use it effectively.
Global Vice President of Education, Anthony Salcito, will reaffirm Microsoft’s commitment to education on the continent at the Innovation Africa Summit in Kenya this week. Innovation Africa is the continent’s leading summit for education and innovation and brings together all education players, from schools and civil society to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and education ministers.
“More and better education, combined with early access to the tools and skills used in the workplace now and in the future, has the potential to help create healthier communities, economies and workers who are ready to enter the workforce,” said Salcito. “At Microsoft we are committed to empowering the next generation of workers by building skills that focus on collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking and co-operation, by providing access to technology and giving young people tools to support their learning.”
In keeping with this, Microsoft has worked closely with the Kenyan government during the deployment of a national Digital Literacy Program for which teacher readiness and ICT competency is a critical component. To date, 5000 teachers have been empowered to access the Microsoft Educator Community Platform, with 7000 being certified as Microsoft Certified Educators. This partnership ensures that while students have access to technology from a young age, they will simultaneously have teachers who can leverage the technology effectively in the classroom.
A similar education transformation agreement signed by Microsoft and the Ministry of Education Rwanda aims to impact over 65 000 teachers and 3.2 million students. This will be achieved through providing discounts on Windows devices and delivering educational content, professional development and certification for students and teachers by leveraging the cloud and Office 365.
In West Africa, we have also worked with L’Agence Nationale du Service Universel des Télécommunications (ANSUT) Cote d’Ivoire to provide Office 365 cloud services for all faculty, staff and students across six public universities.
And for those not attending one of these universities, the Microsoft Virtual Academy uses cloud technology to offer high-quality skills training to African youth at no cost. There are currently over 70 courses available, with total training reach set to be about half a million over the next year.
Finally, for youth needing practical experience to successfully enter the working world, Microsoft works on providing effective bridges between learning and earning, through its various internship programs. These range from Interns4Afrika, which focuses on sales, marketing and technical support roles; to 4Afrika AppFactory, aimed at modern developers; and Ta3mal programs in Egypt, which prepare the youth for various roles in the local community.
Microsoft’s investments in education continue under various programmes including:
- 4Afrika initiative and YouthSpark.
- Office 365 ProPlus Benefit, which enables qualifying education institutions to install the latest version of Office at no additional cost.
- Partners in Learning, which provides digital curriculum training for educators and has benefitted over 13 million students in sub-Saharan Africa to date.
As we move closer to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Microsoft’s work in the likes of Kenya, Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire is merely a taste of its involvement in the education sector. With continued partnerships with Government, the organisation remains committed to the evolution of education across the continent, to prepare students for the future of work.