Making 70 million lives better with technology

With the 2015 ASEAN economic integration just around the corner, Thailand’s economic managers are streamlining efforts to make sure the country is “primed and ready” to be part of the world’s next regional powerhouse.

At the heart of Thailand’s national economic development strategy are Information Communication Technologies playing a critical role in education, entrepreneurship and economic competitiveness, areas in which Microsoft is taking an active part to make sure every citizen is able to take advantage of today’s cutting edge technologies.

“Thailand’s national priorities are closely aligned with Microsoft’s vision to make 70 million lives better,” said Haresh Khoobchandani, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand.

“In our 20 years of operation in Thailand, we believe that IT has become an essential tool for holistic growth. Apart from being a world leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential, we are also very committed to our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes like Partners in Learning, Imagine Cup, DreamSpark, BizSpark and YouthSpark that promise impactful results in communities.”

Microsoft Thailand has received a total of six CSR Recognition awards for the company’s commitment to the community. Awards include: Microsoft Unlimited Potential – Community Technology Skills Programme in 2007; MultiPoint Mouse, an education project under Partners in Learning, in 2009; the software design and development challenge for Imagine Cup in 2010; and the BETTER programme in 2011 and 2012. Most recently, Microsoft was recognised for its YouthSpark programme in 2013.

According to Khoobchandani, YouthSpark creates education and employment opportunities for youth through different programmes that are implemented with Microsoft’s partners from both the public and private sectors. This initiative helps empower young people to imagine and realise their highest potential in education, employment and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, the programmes support their ability to initiate transformative change for themselves and their communities.

“For our employees and me, it has been such a joy watching our CSR programmes unfold and take on a life of their own. The stories we hear from various groups and communities that detail how the programmes have improved their lives, give us the emotional connection to our work and pushes us to make an even greater impact in additional communities.”

Khoobchandani shared a story about how Khadiyah Amanakun, an English teacher in the southern province of Thailand, integrated technology to better engage students.

The English proficiency in the country is extremely low and students generally pick up English only as a third or fourth language. To ignite the students’ passion for English, Amanakun creatively used simple IT tools to make learning fun and interesting.

“Amanakun uses Songsmith, a musical application to create songs for students to practice and sing along as she introduces new vocabularies. She makes use of a function in Microsoft Excel that lets students feed the chosen cells to a text-to-speech engine so they can practice pronunciation of English words. Students were also introduced to platforms such as Flip Album and to create digital books,” adds Khoobchandani.

“It’s not just about the tools and applications we provide,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s all about helping people stretch their imagination so they can see the opportunities within their grasp, help them realise talents they didn’t know they had and most of all enable them to become the competitive innovators that the country needs.”

Report: Clarice Africa

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