2014 – The Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) and Microsoft (Thailand) Limited today signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide 8 million students and 400,000 teachers across Thailand with access to Microsoft Office 365 for Education. The agreement, which also includes the extension of the highly successful Partners in Learning initiative to 2019, represents the single biggest cloud service deployment for Microsoft in the education sector globally.
“OBEC and Microsoft have enjoyed ten years of collaboration for the betterment of Thailand’s future under the Partners in Learning program,” said OBEC Senior Advisor in Technology for Teaching and Learning Anek Ratpiyapaporn. “The 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan states that Thailand’s top priority is to develop its human resources through improvement in education. Microsoft’s support will ensure that educators and students are empowered with solutions and platforms that are aligned with their needs.
“This initiative will play a key role in our preparations for ASEAN Economic Community integration and drive the development of 21st century skills that are vital to the Smart Thailand 2020 strategy, whose key objective is to foster sustainable national growth and raise the standard of living through technology,” Ratpiyapaporn added.
Conceived in 2003, Partners in Learning (PiL) is a global Microsoft program that fosters innovative use of technology in education to help students and teachers around the world maximize their potential. So far, the program has provided training to more than 12 million educators and enhanced the learning experience for 200 million students in 119 countries. In Thailand, Partners in Learning has reached out to more than 164,000 teachers and 8 million students across 39,000 schools nationwide.
Haresh Khoobchandani, Managing Director of Microsoft (Thailand), said, “Microsoft has always seen technology as an important enabler of quality education, and this memorandum of understanding underscores our long-term commitment to Thailand and our vision of a holistic transformation of the Thai education system. Throughout Microsoft’s 20 years in Thailand, we have invested $5.2 million (156 million THB) in Thai education as part of our vision of We Make 70 Million Lives Better. We have also taken a step further with our Microsoft YouthSpark program to help young people capture opportunities, to learn skills, to prepare for the jobs of the future, or even to start their own business.
“Two million university students and staff members are already taking advantage of cloud technology through Office 365 for Education, and this landmark partnership with OBEC will increase the number of users to more than 10 million,” Khoobchandani continued. “This enables schools and universities across Thailand to create massive repositories of knowledge that can be accessed and shared anywhere, any time, and on any device in a secure and trusted environment.”
Under this memorandum of understanding, schools under OBEC jurisdiction will gain access to Office 365 for Education, giving students and teachers alike the ability to create, connect, and collaborate on an advanced and enterprise-ready cloud platform that is safe and secure. A 2013 IDC study commissioned by Microsoft found that proficiency with Microsoft Office applications ranks high at number three of the top 20 in-demand skills globally. The study also found that 29 percent of high growth/salary occupations call for Microsoft Office or Microsoft Office-related skills such as word processing, spreadsheets and financial reporting.
Through Microsoft YouthSpark, an initiative designed to provide young people with opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship, and Partners in Learning, students and teachers will benefit from Microsoft’s academic and technical resources. These include free educational materials through the Microsoft IT Academy, various teacher and school development programs, access to professional-class development tools and technical guidance through the Microsoft DreamSpark program. They will also be able to benefit from tech startup support through the Microsoft BizSpark program, and opportunities to showcase their creativity and expertise in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition.
“With young people between the ages of 15 and 24 forming the largest segment of the unemployed in Thailand, there is a pressing need to drive transformational change in education,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft. “The full impact of Microsoft’s partnership with OBEC is not simply in the millions of students that will have access to the most compelling and engaging technology for education and collaborative learning. It will be seen in how we are able to effectively integrate technology into the classroom to help prepare these students with the skills of the future.”
Wednesday’s announcement surpasses Microsoft’s previous largest cloud education partnerships—a partnership with the Sao Paolo State Department of Education to provide Office 365 to more than 4 million students; the 7.5 million Office 365 seats that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) deployed across 11,500 technical colleges and institutions in India; and the 4.5 million seats that the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) deployed globally in 2012.
The memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and OBEC will cover a five-year period from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2019.
For more information on Partners in Learning and Office 365 for Education, visit http://www.pil-network.com/, http://www.pil.in.th/ and http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/academic/.
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