Career & Education

Microsoft provides free office software to schools

Sunday, July 02, 2017

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The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information recently signed an agreement with software giant Microsoft to provide administrative staff, teachers and students at several school islandwide with free access to Microsoft Office 365 tools such as OneNote, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint across PC, tablet and smartphone platforms.

During the official agreement signing last week, education minister Ruel Reid said it was “a step forward in realising our mission of having a nation empowered by a dynamic system of care, education and training”.

“Now, more than ever, there's an immediate need to accelerate the transformation of our education system, so we have students equipped with knowledge needed to be productive members of our country in the 21st century, and teachers and staff that feel empowered with appropriate tools to transform the teaching-learning process,” the minister said.

The agreement will affect 750,000 students from early childhood, primary and secondary institutions. This kind of access to technology will help to prepare the students of Jamaica and allow them them to accelerate in a global economy that is driven by technology, Microsoft said, adding that the key benefits of introducing technology at an early age include:

• Developing logic, problem-solving techniques, creativity and critical thinking — 21st century skills that employers require in any industry, not just in technology; and

• Being keyed in to employment opportunities with advanced computer skills/engineering. At the moment there is not enough talent to fill all these jobs in the technology sector; students must begin using and learning by having technology in their learning processes

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. With this mission in mind, we make this a reality in Jamaica by supporting the access and use of technology tools that lead into a virtuous cycle for innovation in education and productivity. We believe that 21st century students need the appropriate tools to develop their computational thinking capabilities, in order to be competitive as they advance into the job market. This also means that we are in support of educators and administrative staff having the necessary tools to transform the teaching-learning progamme,” Microsoft Jamaica's Business Opportunity Manager Laycya Holmes said.

The software developer added that as the world increasingly depends on technology, , young people need to have an understanding of how it works and how to make it work for them, so they can go from being users to being developers themselves.

It also pointed out that entrepreneurship is a tangible option, as a great many successful business has come about thanks to power of technology.

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