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Caribbean schoolchildren to benefit from Commonwealth and Microsoft collaboration

28 March 2011
Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth of Learning and Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago jointly agree to improve access to, and use of, Information and Communication Technologies

The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago signed a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on 28 March, agreeing to work together to harness the potential of technology and the internet to improve education in schools in the Caribbean region.

Over the next two years, the three organisations will collaborate to improve access to, and use of, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in primary and secondary schools in 18 Caribbean countries and territories, 12 of which are Commonwealth member states: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.

The programme will provide students and teachers with training and expertise in using ICT to learn and teach, through the implementation of the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers, an internationally recognised framework to promote ICT education.

“This programme ensures that the children of today are ready to compete on a global scale with the right skills and expertise, once they graduate and enter the job market,” said Pradeep Raman, general manager of Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago.

“Initiatives such as this are pegged to Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme.  Our partnership with governments, NGOs and international organisations is aimed at increasing ICT readiness to enhance educators’ skills and foster their innovative approaches to teaching. We also want to ensure that all children have access to the high-quality educational experiences they need to lead productive lives in the twenty-first century.”

With a focus on teacher development in ICT, the programme will be implemented through information and knowledge delivery, in-country and institutional policy review and support, collaborative materials development and capacity building and competency measurement and certification.

Schools will also have digital access to low-cost software through future Microsoft School Agreements and students will be able to access free e-mail addresses through Microsoft’s Live@edu, a suite of online hosted services designed for and offered to educational institutions at no cost to the institution.

Sir John Daniel, President and chief executive officer of COL, said that the LOU highlighted the importance of cultivating leadership, collaboration and teamwork through digital communication and productivity tools and that this agreement “not only serves to strengthen collaboration between the Commonwealth of Learning, the Secretariat and the private sector, but also ensures alignment with the Commonwealth’s larger goals and objectives as it pertains to providing access to ICT in classrooms within developing countries.”

“Many countries are experiencing an increased level of global competition for tourism dollars and foreign direct investment. One of the key enablers to retain and attract investments is to develop an ICT literate society and ICT knowledgeable workforce. The partnership agreed will work together to educate teachers on using ICT in the classroom to help schools better prepare students for life and work in the twenty-first century,” said Anthony Ming, ICT Adviser and Head, Commonwealth Secretariat.

The LOU is part of an agreement signed by the three organisations in October 2010. The parties have also identified other areas of joint collaboration, including: providing advocacy and policy support to governments, universities and teacher training institutions in the Caribbean region to promote integration of ICT into teaching and learning; developing the programme for other Commonwealth countries; increasing access to education through the use of ICT for people in underserved regions of the Commonwealth, including the provision of Open Educational Resources; and promoting and facilitating online communities to share expertise and good practice.

Note to Editors:

The Commonwealth Secretariat is an intergovernmental organisation, which implements decisions agreed by Commonwealth Heads of Government through technical assistance, advice and policy development.

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

Press Contact:

Judette Puglisi-Coward

Mango Media Caribbean

judette@mangomediacaribbean.com

Tel: +1 (868) 224-3491

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