IT companies such as Microsoft are investing substantially in the education sector for growth

Reiterating that education is an important sector for Microsoft Corporation, the IT major announced a global investment of $250 million over five years into its Microsoft Partners in Learning (MPIL) programme recently, taking its total investment in the program to $750 million over 15 years.

Without going into details of its investments in India, Lauren Woodman, Microsoft’s General Manager for Worldwide Education and Government Programs said that it was a key market for the company.

“India is very exciting for us and we will continue to keenly engage with it,” she said.

The first phase of MPIL in the country was Project Shiksha to offer affordable software solutions, comprehensive training and curriculum leadership for students and teachers in government schools. The curriculum, available in six regional languages and delivered over 8-12 days, looks at how teachers can integrate IT tools in their classroom teaching and other functions. 

Apart from establishing IT academies, Microsoft has also tied up with State-run District Institute for Education and Training (DIETS) and educational institutions like Jawahar Navodya Samiti and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Currently, the project is being used by government school teachers across schools in Maharashtra, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Created in 2003, MPIL is a forum set up to engage with teachers both online and offline and look at how technology can be directly introduced in the classrooms. Every year, the company organises a meeting of educators from across the globe on a different continent where they are encouraged to exchange ideas and also receive prizes for their work. Last year, the meet was held in Prague, Czech Republic where six teachers from India participated chosen from more than 28000 project applications received.

The company aims to grow the MPIL community to 20 million of the 75 million teachers worldwide by 2018 and expand it beyond the 119 countries that currently participate.

The company also announced that this year would be Microsoft’s biggest year for product launches and most of the products can be worked back into education.

“We have some exiting new stuff in terms of products that will help in education. Education is a pillar in our strategy and our visions are about sustainability and new ways to use education to drive economic growth,” said Don Grantham, President of Microsoft for Central and Eastern Europe.

“We can’t educate tomorrow’s leaders with tools and practices from the past. We must continue to invest in the development of enhanced learning environments that lead to better outcomes,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President for Worldwide education.

“We see a significant opportunity to invest in the economy of tomorrow by working with educators today to teach 21st century skills,” said Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector.

(The writer visited Prague, Czech Republic for the Microsoft meet at the invitation of the company)