SINGAPORE, Nov. 17, 2004 — As part of Microsoft’s efforts to promote digital inclusion worldwide, the company today announced the global availability of two volumes of IT skills training curriculum, designed for use by teachers, students, and community learners. Localized into more than 20 languages and developed in conjunction with leading organizations in the education community, the curricula are being made available free of charge to schools and community technology learning centers (CTLCs) around the world.
The curricula were developed as part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning and Unlimited Potential initiatives, which aid governmental efforts for economic and social development by providing wider access to technology and technology skills.
“Young people and adults need tools to help them develop their technology skills and put them into practice,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “We believe these curricula can have a tremendous impact in helping people learn, grow, discover new opportunities and improve their livelihoods.”
The Partners in Learning curriculum is optimized for use in a formal classroom setting and provides lesson plans and materials for five courses totaling 200 hours of instruction. The curriculum may be adopted in its entirety or customized by ministries of education, school administrators or teachers to meet local education priorities. Courseware includes instruction guides and grading rubrics for teachers, as well as classroom materials for students. Courses include: Integrating ICT Skills into Teaching and Learning, Deploying Student Technical Support Solutions,Using Microsoft Office XP for Learning Projects, Understanding and Building Basic Networks, and Developing Basic Applications Using Microsoft Visual Basic .NET.
In collaboration with governments and education institutions around the world, the Partners in Learning curriculum is now being translated into 20 languages: Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bulgarian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Danish, British English, Estonian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, South African Context, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Ukranian.
In August, 72 individuals from 13 countries in Asia received training on how to customize the curriculum to meet local education needs and how to prepare teachers to successfully use the courses in the classroom. Attendees included representatives from ministries of education, training organizations and curriculum development agencies. The curriculum is already being piloted in Malaysia and Indonesia; by early 2005, training participants are expected to conduct additional pilots in Australia, India, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Similar training sessions will also take place in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the United States and Canada.
“Our mission is to ensure that every Malaysian child has the opportunity to develop the ICT skills necessary to thrive in the Information Age,” said Mr. Kang Siew Khoon, President of Malaysia’s National Union of Heads of Schools. “But this can only happen if our teachers and schools have technology instruction materials of the highest quality and the ability to incorporate them into the classroom. The Partners in Learning curriculum meets an important need in Malaysia’s education system. We believe the materials will have an incredible impact in the lives of our children and the opportunities available to Malaysia’s future workforce.”
Microsoft is also helping train ministries of education to author IT curriculum on their own. In Kenya, Microsoft recently provided 60 hours of basic IT skills training to the country’s 24 curriculum authors. Later this year, Microsoft will offer them a six-day intensive authoring skills course, so they will be able to create local digitized curricula, building upon the material provided by Microsoft.
Additional information about the Partners in Learning curriculum may be found at http://www.microsoft.com/partnersinlearning .
To enable institutions outside of traditional education, the Unlimited Potential (UP) community-learning curriculum provides the foundation for teaching basic to intermediate technology skills in a hands-on manner. Designed for use in CTLCs, the curriculum aims to help individuals gain critical 21st century workforce skills. Lessons may be taught in a classroom-style setting, or as part of a self-paced learning program and are available in Arabic, Simplified Chinese, English, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Additional localization efforts underway at this time include Hindi, Bahasa Indonesian, and Iberian Portuguese.
In the Philippines, the UP curriculum has been recognized by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), an agency under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that focuses on manpower development. With this recognition, TESDA will incorporate the curriculum in the training programs offered at their centers.
“We have reviewed and are officially recognizing the Unlimited Potential curriculum,” says Susana dela Rama, TESDA director. “In fact, we will be using it in our computer literacy training programs that we will initially offer at 41 centers. We are also using the curriculum in training Overseas Filipino Workers through the Tulay program with Microsoft and DOLE. ”
CTLCs are encouraged to customize the curriculum to meet the needs of their particular students or the local economy. The curriculum aligns with internationally recognized certification requirements and provides eight step-by-step courses: Computer Fundamentals, Using the Internet and World Wide Web, Digital Media Fundamentals, Word Processing Fundamentals, Spreadsheet Fundamentals, Presentation Fundamentals, Web Design Fundamentals, and Database Fundamentals .
CTLCs may apply for the curriculum by submitting an Unlimited Potential application through their local Microsoft office. Additional information and application instructions may be found at www.microsoft.com/unlimitedpotential .
The Partners in Learning and Unlimited Potential curricula expand Microsoft’s efforts to promote digital inclusion and to help individuals, communities, and nations gain access to the technology, tools, skills and innovation that they need to realize their full potential.
About Microsoft Partners in Learning
Partners in Learning aims to increase access to and build capacity for the use of Information and Communication Technologies by educators and students. Through Partners in Learning, Microsoft is collaborating with experts in education and curriculum development to deliver high-quality learning and development experiences for educators, resources to support success in the classroom and opportunities to network with colleagues.
About Microsoft Unlimited Potential
Microsoft Unlimited Potential is a global program that focuses on improving lifelong learning for underserved young people and adults by providing technology skills through community technology learning centers. Microsoft believes that by providing technical skills training and tools, we can partner to create social and economic opportunities for individuals and communities. Since May 2003, the company has awarded $80 million is grants of cash and software to programs in 78 countries.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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“Technology is rapidly changing the way we think, learn and work, and it’s vitally important that students have the resources they need to develop skills for the 21st century. As an international organization helping schools around the globe incorporate technology into the classroom, we’re critically aware that much of their existing curriculum lags behind the real demands of today’s workplace. Through our collaboration with Microsoft and the creation of the Partners in Learning curriculum, we believe we can help ensure that students around the world are ready for their future.”
Don Knezek, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education
“The Little Sisters’ Community Life Program is geared toward educating our clients about social and economic change, and therefore our goal is to provide them with the necessary skills for a better and brighter future. The curriculum and lesson plans for our computer classes rely heavily on the Unlimited Potential curriculum, which we find extremely precise and well designed. Because our clients are those least likely to have access to computer technology, this program offers our families the possibility of experiencing first-hand an incredible learning experience that builds self confidence and motivation. The knowledge that technology education is available to them, and the assurance that it can transform their lives, is invaluable.”
Flor de Maria Eilets, Director of Community Life, Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, New York
“With the support of the UP materials, we are able to hold regular computer literacy classes at the Beijing Xicheng Library Community Learning Center. Young people are developing new skills — start writing their own stories, poems and even resumes. Young migrant workers start to see beyond the construction site and the dishwasher’s sink; they are looking outward. We see in our students a new kind of creativity, a new kind of ambition. The training materials are practical, clear, and easily adapted to the local context. They start believing that new skills are attainable and they are more motivated to learn and reach beyond to link, exchange, and explore.”
Sarah Tsien, Director of PlaNet Finance China