BEIJING, July 1, 2004 — With a symbolic toss of soil to plant a pair of young trees at the entrance to a middle school here, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates today helped senior officials of the Chinese Ministry of Education launch the first of 100 computer classrooms — most of them in rural China — to be equipped through an ambitious government initiative supported by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program.
During separate tours of the Asian-Pacific region this week, Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer both helped launch local programs in China, Malaysia and Japan supported by Partners in Learning, a five-year, global Microsoft initiative to help governments around the world provide technology access and skills training to students and educators .
“We believe that technology is one of the most powerful tools that teachers and governments can use to educate and inform people of any age,” Gates said in Beijing today.
The three Asian countries are the most recent to collaborate with Microsoft under Partners in Learning, which was launched in September 2003. Global in scope and local in implementation, Partners in Learning supports governments’ digital-inclusion efforts by partnering with education and government leaders to offer schools and administrators a spectrum of education resources: software discounts and donations, technology skills training and curriculum, technical support and research resources.
Microsoft’s two chiefs this week have joined national and local officials to launch Partners in Learning programs in:
Japan: On Tuesday (June 29), Microsoft’s Ballmer and the governor of Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture, Harumi Takahashi, signed a Partners in Learning agreement to establish a pair of IT incubation programs: Project Frontier Venture, in which Microsoft will provide software, technical support and training to IT startups in Hokkaido; and Project Stella, a program to boost teacher and student IT skills at a dozen job-training schools. Microsoft will provide coursework training materials and trainers.
China: Gates’ visit today (July 1) to the Beijing Normal University Affiliation Experimental High School marked the first fruit of a Partners in Learning agreement Microsoft and the Chinese Ministry of Education signed in November 2003, committing the software company to five years and at least US$10 million in support for local efforts to bring IT training to many of China’s most remote areas.