Microsoft Expands Education Footprint in Asia Pacific Region

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced new partnerships to extend accessibility and computer literacy in the Asia Pacific region during a speech in Jakarta at a government leader gathering earlier this week.

The announcements included new education tools for people with special needs; the extension of a skills development and certification program available through Internet cafes in the Philippines; and the expansion of Microsoft Innovation Centers in Indonesia with Pelita Harapan University.

"At the heart of our efforts is the belief that technology can provide capabilities that are key to creating new jobs and generating sustainable economic growth, including access to a quality education and the knowledge and infrastructure to foster local innovation," Gates said. "We want to do everything we can to equip people with PCs, the Internet, productivity software, e-mail and other tools of the digital information revolution so that they can be full participants in the global knowledge economy."

Microsoft will be teaming up with the Oscar-winning New Zealand-based animation studio Weta Workshop and Australian software developer Northern Territory Institute for Community Engagement and Development (NTICED). Initially, the collaboration will make resources and tools based on Microsoft's Partners in Learning Curriculum available to students with special needs and their educators through a Web site that will deliver audio, written text, images, and video through animation-based content.

Microsoft announced an agreement with Philippines-based iCafe operator Netopia to launch a pilot program that delivers learning and training opportunities through Netopia's 169 iCafes. This program will provide access to software such as Microsoft Office 2007 in addition to digital literacy courses and free certifications through the Microsoft IT Academy Learning Portal. Each course can be completed within 45 to 90 minutes. Customers pay for the usage rate of Netopia computers while doing the courses.

Microsoft also said it will collaborate with Pelita Harapan University in Jakarta to open a new Innovation Center in Indonesia. There are currently four Innovation Centers operating in Indonesia in partnership with universities. Microsoft Innovation Centers focus on three core programs: skills development through software courses, business skills and market development training, and employment programs for students; industry partnerships to foster the creation and development of industry clusters, software quality certification, and hands-on technology labs; and support for the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a worldwide student software development competition.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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