Microsoft Aims to Create New Opportunity for Everyone Through Education



    
    Company expands the impact of Partners in Learning program over the next
    five years, reaching up to three times as many students, teachers and
    schools.
    

    BERLIN, Jan. 22 /CNW/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced a renewed
commitment over the next five years to Partners in Learning, a program that
provides the education community with resources and training to help students
reach their full potential. Through Partners in Learning, Microsoft is
leveraging the transformative power of software to create innovative
educational experiences that remove limitations, create opportunities, and
bring students and teachers closer. Since its launch in 2003, Partners in
Learning has touched the lives of more than 90 million students, teachers and
education policymakers in 101 countries. In the next five years, Microsoft is
aiming to triple the impact of Partners in Learning's three core programs:
Innovative Teachers, Innovative Students and Innovative Schools. Partners in
Learning is a key education initiative under Microsoft Unlimited Potential,
the company's commitment to creating sustained social and economic opportunity
for everyone.
    
    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )
    
    "Microsoft has always believed that education is the cornerstone of
opportunity, and that investing in education is the best way to help young
people achieve their potential," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft.
"Partners in Learning is one of the ways Microsoft works with governments and
schools around the world to help teachers use technology in the classroom to
make learning exciting and relevant for the 21st century."
    "Actively integrating technology into the classroom takes more than just
PCs; it requires the cooperation and input of those with expertise, vision and
strong experience in all aspects of the educational process," said
Cristian-Mihai Adomnitei, minister of education, research and youth in
Romania. "Microsoft's continued partnership and guidance through Partners in
Learning has been instrumental in the success of our programs to achieve
better education through IT and in forming talents for a competitive economy."
    The real impact that Partners in Learning has already had in transforming
education is best shown by the stories of the individuals and communities
affected by the program. One example can be found at the Arino Primary School,
located in a village in Aragon, Spain, with a population of just 900 people.
Head teacher Jose Antonio Blesa wanted to raise educational standards and
motivate students by giving them access to online research and interactive
learning tools. In partnership with Microsoft, he was able to provide his
pupils with portable Tablet PCs linked to a wireless network. Now, final-year
students use the PCs in most of their classes, transforming lessons into
exciting interactive experiences and letting students learn at their own pace.
The project's success encouraged the Ministry of Education in Aragon to
provide an additional 14,000 Tablet PCs to its schools over the following
three years; and six other regional governments in Spain have started to
introduce similar programs in their local schools.
    "The main goals of the Aragon government regarding this collaboration
project with Microsoft are to foster the use of IT tools within the region, to
provide advanced training to the 'teachers of the future' and to develop an
online education network," said Eva Almunia, minister of education in Aragon.
"In this respect, Aragon has become a reference across Europe in the
application of information technologies to the education process."
    Other Partners in Learning efforts have successfully scaled local
programs to have nationwide impact. A 2005 report found that 34 percent of
Hungarian students had no technology skills. Using a wide range of programs,
from support for intensive teacher training to the development of 101 Ideas
for Innovative Teachers, a booklet offering simple tips for technology-based
lessons in 10 subjects, the percentage of students without technology skills
was dramatically reduced to less than 8 percent by 2007.
    An important element of Partners in Learning is connecting the global
teaching community, allowing educators to share their ideas with their peers
around the world. This is brought to life through the Innovative Teachers
program, which includes one of the world's largest online collaboration
portals for educators, and a series of worldwide conferences that bring them
together to share ideas and reward exceptional teaching practices. One
participant, Sweden's Brigitta (Bitte) Kajler, created a collaborative lesson
on biodiversity that connected students in Sweden with children in Madagascar.
The project gave students a deeper understanding of the environment as they
learned important cultural lessons and technology skills, providing an
opportunity for them to learn from and interact with their peers in another
part of the world.
    In addition, the Innovative Students program provides affordable,
reliable software to qualifying governments purchasing Windows-based PCs for
primary and secondary students' personal use at home. Finally, through the
Innovative Schools program, Microsoft works with governments, educators and
partners to deliver expert guidance in holistic school reform, plus a road map
for technology integration to help schools meet their education objectives.
    Today's announcement represents a new, five-year, $235.5 million (U.S.)
investment, and will bring the company's total 10-year commitment in Partners
in Learning to nearly $500 million. Ensuring that everyone has an opportunity
to learn is an enormous challenge that requires participation by both the
public and private sectors. Microsoft is deeply committed to collaborating
with education partners around the world to provide relevant, high-quality
learning experiences, and enable students and teachers to achieve their
fullest potential.
    Additional information, including a video sharing the story of Jose
Antonio Blesa and the Arino Primary School, will be posted at
http://www.microsoft.com/unlimitedpotential.
    
    About Unlimited Potential
    
    Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making
technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people
around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so
by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and
through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with
governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations
and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone --
to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of
technology -- by 2015.
    
    About Microsoft
    
    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq:   MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their
full potential.




For further information:

For further information: pr.mspx ./ /CONTACT: Rapid Response Team, 
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for Microsoft, +1-503-443-7070, 
rrt@waggeneredstrom.com, for Microsoft Corp.


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