Microsoft Thailand and the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide eight million students and 400,000 teachers across Thailand with free access to Microsoft Office 365 for education.
Covering a five-year period from 1 June 2014, to 31 May 2019, the agreement is the biggest cloud service deployment for Microsoft in the education sector globally.
All schools under OBEC jurisdiction will gain access to Office 365 for education, giving students and teachers the ability to collaborate on a secure, enterprise-ready cloud platform.
“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,” said Haresh Khoobchandani, managing director of Microsoft Thailand. “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 ten million.”
Adding that Microsoft has invested US$5.2 million in Thai education over the last 20 years, Khoobchandani said: “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 secured and trusted environment.”
Microsoft and OBEC have also extended their existing Partners in Learning initiative to 2019 as part of the deal. Developed in 2003, the global programme aims to foster innovative use of technology in education and has provided training to more than 12 million educators and improved 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 eight million students across 39,000 schools nationwide.
“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.”
Partners in Learning is also a key element of Mircrosoft’s YouthSpark initiative, which aims to provide young people across the world with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship skills. Through the programme students and teachers can access Microsoft’s academic and technical resources, such as free educational materials through the Microsoft IT Academy and various teacher and school development programmes. They can also access technical guidance through Microsoft DreamSpark and tech startup support through Microsoft BizSpark.
“The 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan states that Thailand’s top priority is to develop its human resources through improvement in education,” said Anek Ratpiyapaporn, senior advisor in technology for teaching and learning, OBEC. “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.”
Microsoft has previously provided four million students with Office 365 via the Sao Paulo State Department of Education, as well as 7.5 million Office 365 seats that the All India Council for Technical Education deployed across 11,500 technical colleges and institutions in India. In addition, the company provided 4.5 million seats that the Catholic International Education Office deployed globally in 2012.
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