PRAGUE, Dec. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. today marked the close of its Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012 by announcing an investment of up to US$75 million to bring digital access to youth and educators in developing nations. The commitment was sealed by signing memorandums of understanding with six global humanitarian organizations. Along with the US$250 million, five-year renewal of the flagship Microsoft Partners in Learning program, the company has further strengthened its commitment to bring holistic transformation of education systems around the world through digital access to youth and capacity building for educators.
The initiative is led by strategic alliances with World Vision Inc., the British Council, SOS Children's Villages International, Catholic Relief Services, Plan Ltd. and the International Rescue Committee. It is aimed at helping ensure that teachers get the digital training they need and students gain critical skills vital to finding employment, starting their own businesses and contributing to their local communities' economies.
These commitments are part of Microsoft YouthSpark, a companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world, helping transform education and expand digital inclusion to empower youth to change their world.
"Today's young people face an opportunity divide — a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. "We firmly believe in the power of technology to help close this gap. But we can only achieve our ambitions with the help of these kinds of partnerships. Together, we can help bring digital access to youth and support to educators in developing countries worldwide."
Reaching Underprivileged Youth in Africa
An example of this initiative — Spark a Child's Digital Future http://www.worldvision.org/bethespark — will begin in Kenya, scaling across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond during the next five years.
Spark a Child's Digital Future, which launches today, is a collaborative effort that unites World Vision, the British Council, Microsoft and Intel, and it links African youth with more than 1 million potential donors in the United States alone. World Vision, the world's largest nongovernmental organization, will generate donations through its child sponsors. Microsoft will donate software and apply the experience it has gained through Partners in Learning. Together, Microsoft and Intel will offer information and communications technology expertise and training, while the British Council and World Vision bring on-the-ground expertise in education program execution and content development for teacher and school leader professional development, as well as measurement and evaluation.
"We recognize that once a child's basic needs are met, digital skills development can be vital in securing economic growth," said Rich Stearns, president, World Vision U.S. "This program is essential in helping children in developing countries succeed in a global world."
2012 Global Forum Educator Awards
The announcement was made ahead of an award ceremony at the Global Forum in Prague, bringing together more than 500 of the most innovative teachers, school leaders, education leaders and government officials from 80 countries. Teachers who attend the Global Forum are regional finalists selected from more than 250,000 teachers registered across national and regional forums throughout the year.
Teacher projects were awarded across six categories:
- Winner: Pauline Roberts and Rick Joseph (United States), "Doing Business in Birmingham." A Sciracy project promoting scientific literacy. Students developed informational brochures to educate business owners on sustainability.
- First Runner-Up: Chen Siyun (Singapore), "Impactful Online Service Learning." The project led a group of Singapore and Indonesian students through a journey of collaboration to solve the issue of the lack of clean water.
- Second Runner-Up: Holger Frohlich (Germany), "Creating Fairytale-Radioplays." Using digital media, the students created a fairytale-radioplay building an audio visual experience.
- Winner: David Allan Young (Northern Ireland), "Infinity Architecture." Students from the local primary school developed an architecture project to serve students with special needs. The project is now in early stages of full-scale modeling.
- First Runner-Up: Zamimah Binti Azaman (Malaysia), "The Journalist." The students developed a simulator to assess content and skills learned in the classroom.
- Second Runner-Up: Youssr Chediac (Lebanon), "The Warak Warak Method." This project is a teaching methodology that builds and enhances students' subject knowledge and skills, increases engagement and keeps the momentum going beyond the classroom.
Beyond the Classroom
- Winner: Ghadeer Obiedat and Rania Obiedat (Jordan), "Glimmer of Hope." These teachers aimed to equip students with the skills needed to innovate and be productive in life, with a project focusing on the early detection and screening of breast cancer.
- First Runner-Up: Devon Caldwell and Leah Obach (Canada), "Little Hands Big World." This collaborative project links two classrooms of learners to form one community of change agents. These young learners from ages 4 to 7 are identifying, investigating and developing solutions to important issues affecting the planet.
- Second Runner-Up (joint): Margarida Telles da Cruz (Brazil), "Ecoweb." This project challenges special needs students to develop sustainability activities. Using different technology, students collaborated with neighboring schools to focus on the reuse of different materials and how residents should take care of their local area.
- Second Runner-Up (joint): Katie Boothman (United Kingdom), "The H.I.T. Squad." Students embraced new technologies to connect and engage communities and learners across generations. Primary schools and local residents have benefited from learning resources created by the Squad in their ongoing mission to share the past with the future.
Cutting-Edge Use of IT
- Winner: Nicki Maddams (United Kingdom), "Kodu in The Klassroom." This project takes Kodu Game Lab and uses it to enhance learning. From aiding literacy for primary school children to focusing on programming with game design in secondary schools, the versatile and engaging software has been used to teach, learn and inspire.
- First Runner-Up: Robin Lowell and Sherry Hah (United States), "'LYNC'ing Distance Learning Math Classes to Blind and Visually Impaired Students." Using the audio/videoconferencing functionality in Microsoft Lync, the team created an unprecedented distance learning mathematics program tailored to the unique needs of blind and visually impaired students.
- Second Runner-Up: Alice Leung (Australia), "Playing. Designing. Learning. Using Games and Project-Based Learning to Develop Creative, Innovative and Independent Learners." Combining commercial video games and games design with in-depth class projects, students form their own investigations to develop skills in higher order thinking, collaboration, problem solving and self-regulation.
Teaching a Change Agent
- Winner: Munazza Riaz Butt (Pakistan), "Aqua Crunch." Teaching students to address water problems through technology.
- First Runner-Up: Ayodele Odeogbola (Nigeria), "Rescue Mission." This project used a mixture of hardware and software to help tackle the challenges (such as examination malpractice, vandalism, bullying, drug abuse and truancy) currently being faced in Nigeria and other countries of the world.
- Second Runner-Up: Maria Loizou Raouna (Cyprus), "Online and Community-Based Research on Recycling Practices." Using a wide range of technology, including Windows Internet Explorer and Skype, students collaborated on online research around waste minimization to inform new recycling programs in their own community and the development of shared "green" multimedia.
- Winner: Joao Carlos Ramalheiro (Portugal), "Oratio Classroom." This software concept for a future educational app was created by students for teachers, responding to the child's creative mind and offering teachers the opportunity to improve music lessons, using a dynamic, content-rich and attractive application.
- First Runner-Up: Darko Taleski and Sofija Grabulovska (Macedonia), "Fun, Education, Stop-Motion Animation." This project makes stop-motion animations for all school subjects in primary education, proving that stop-motion animation is adaptive to all school subjects, age and levels.
- Second Runner-Up: Todd LaVogue (United States), "What's Up Egypt." By combining what students like (television and music) with their curriculum, this project created a television news show and music video to help improve understanding of life in ancient Egypt.
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SOURCE Microsoft Corp.