Microsoft Announces Partners in Learning to Provide Much-Needed Technology Access and Training for Education

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 16, 2003 — Despite real improvements in the availability of information and communication technology around the world, many students and teachers still lack basic access to computers and training. The result is a widening skills gap in information and communication technology (ICT) fields that contributes to disparities in quality of life, economic development and competitiveness.

Microsoft Corp.’s Partners in Learning initiative recognizes the educational value of technology in schools. Global in scope and local in implementation, this initiative provides a significant investment of software and more than $250 million (U.S.) in cash grants worldwide over the next five years to deliver information and communication technology skills training, tailored curriculum development, technical support, and research funds and resources to students and teachers. The Partners in Learning initiative also includes significantly lower prices for Microsoft’s core educational desktop software for students and teachers.

Partners in Learning supports Microsoft’s long-term commitment to empowering teachers and students to achieve their fullest potential by providing greater access to the latest computer technologies and training in how to use them. Already, Brazil, India (State of Uttranchal) and Thailand have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or equivalent to participate in some or all of the Partners in Learning programs.” Italy will be signing an MOU today, and Malaysia is finalizing discussions to participate in the Partners in Learning programs. More than 10 additional countries are expected to play a part in the initiative before the end of 2003. Partners in Learning will be implemented in conjunction with government agencies in each country, local business and, in some cases, local trade associations. As they implement the components of the Partners in Learning initiative that best meet local needs and challenges, government and education partners in each country will be able to provide additional details regarding their participation in specific programs.

“As an industry leader, Microsoft has a responsibility to help make technology more accessible and affordable to students and teachers,” said Maggie Wilderotter, senior vice president of business strategy at Microsoft. “Through feedback from our government customers and educators, Microsoft has developed the Partners in Learning initiative to provide a sustained investment in technology and training to help students focus on learning and teachers focus on teaching. We are excited about working with governments and educators to address local challenges and continue advances in education and learning.”

Employing a systemic and comprehensive approach to the challenge of empowering students and teachers, the Partners in Learning initiative consists of three programs. At the heart of the initiative is the Learning Grants program. This program provides an investment of software and more than $250 million worldwide in cash grants over the next five years, to deliver technology skills training to students and teachers and to assist in ICT integration into curricula and learning. Funding will support the establishment of local Microsoft® IT Academy Centers in conjunction with local advisory councils, educational institutions and training providers. The Microsoft IT Academy Centers will use a variety of training methodologies to deliver student skills certification, leadership and teacher development, curriculum and assessment tools, school-based technology support, and research. The goal of the Microsoft®
IT Academy Centers is to empower schools to increase student achievement through teacher leadership.

Donated computers are a foundation of educational programs around the world. Recognizing this, the Partners in Learning’s Fresh Start for Donated PCs program will help schools make the most of donated computers, promoting increased access for students through wider deployment of PCs in classrooms. For donated machines received by primary and secondary schools that were originally licensed with Microsoft Windows®
operating systems, the Microsoft Fresh Start for Donated PCs program provides, at no charge, a licensed copy of the Windows 98 or Windows 2000 operating system for PCs (Pentium II or older).

In countries where access to the latest innovation in educational software is neither affordable nor accessible, the Partners in Learning initiative will offer further educational discounts through Microsoft’s Standard School Agreement Subscription volume licensing program for disadvantaged schools. Through this program, participating primary and secondary schools will receive free upgrades to Windows XP Professional for both new computers and computers already in the classroom, and can acquire the professional version of the Office productivity software suite at a rate significantly below Microsoft’s already-reduced education pricing.

For more than 10 years, Microsoft has worked with the educational community to foster greater understanding of, and access to, technology tools and training. The Partners in Learning initiative is a long-term commitment to partner with governments, local schools and teachers to establish a foundation for continued advances in education and learning.

Additional information about the Partners in Learning initiative is available on Microsoft’s PressPass Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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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