Bridge Digital Divide, Create Bright Future

Beijing, September 7, 2000 — Today, Xie Liang and Ren Chengjia, two students from Gansu’s Dingxi County – one of China’s most impoverished regions – saw and used a computer for the first time while visiting Microsoft China’s headquarters. Soon this will become an everyday activity for the two students and their classmates at Beiguan and Neiguan elementary schools in Dinxi. In addition, they will use computers to communicate and enhance their studies with other students, teachers and Microsoft volunteer mentors from major coastal cities.

This technological miracle is possible because of Microsoft donations for establishing Hope Cyberschools in Dingxi. The company donated funding to create a computer lab in each school that includes 15 computers, network and audio-visual equipment, and computer assisted educational software. In preparation, teachers from each school received specialized training for educating students with computers.

Representatives of Microsoft, China Youth Development Foundation / Project Hope, the Dingxi Education Bureau and two students from Dingxi schools met the press today in Beijing to discuss the partnership. At the briefing, Microsoft and Project Hope called public attention to the need for closing the digital divide in China.

“This is only a start of the long journey, but it could make a life-long impact on the lives of these disadvantaged children. By enriching their educational experience through innovative uses of IT, we are helping to create new possibilities they never dreamed of,”
said Fengming Liu, Deputy General Manager of Microsoft China, who spent years working in a Dingxi farm during the Cultural Revelution,

The Cyberschools will provide students and teachers access to Project Hope’s Remote Education Network ( ), containing the nation’s best curriculum models, including those used at Beijing University’s affiliated elementary school. The net effect will be a technological leap to overcome economic and geographic barriers.

A database of first-class Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) software will be accessible on this educational local area network (LAN), allowing teachers and students solve problems they meet in traditional teaching process. The Cyberschools will dramatically improve the quality of a local education and enable the students to successfully compete with their counterparts in China’s more developed cities.

Dingxi County, in the middle of northwest China’s Gansu Province, is a key state-level poverty-alleviation target area. The annual per capita income there is only 1,188 yuan (US$143). Wang Hui, director of the Dingxi Education Bureau said,
“These needy children are born disadvantaged and must compete against their counterparts elsewhere. Microsoft is helping to remove geographic and economic obstacles through an Internet-based education.”

Funding for the two Project Hope Cyberschools in Dingxi is part of a Microsoft initiative, Young Minds in Motion, that is using proceeds from Bill Gates’ book, , to support the educational and skills development of under privileged children through innovative use of technology.

Microsoft donates to programs in more than 60 countries worldwide. In China, the company seeks to be a valued corporate citizen by supporting program that increase access to information technology in order for people to realize a more promising future. Details of Microsoft’s China operations can be found on the firm’s Internet web-site: .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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