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Microsoft taps into Kenya education sector

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – Giant software developer Microsoft is looking towards product innovation to grow its foothold in the sub Saharan market.

Microsoft Corporate and Social Responsibility East and South Africa Manager Mark Matunga said it was important for the company to create links with a wide array of customers to guarantee continued sales in the region.

“As a business you want to sell to an educated market one way or the other. Look at the way technology has transformed the world,” Mr Matunga told Capital Business.

One way Microsoft intends to create the links is getting involved in local education systems. It recently collaborated with Safaricom, Equity bank, the Kenya Literature Bureau, Kenya Institute of Education and the Teachers Service Commission to provide laptops loaded with the syllabus to about 240,000 teachers.

Mr Matunga said this was a major launch pad for the software developer to anchor itself in the technology transformation that has gripped the nation.

Microsoft is working together with the Kenya Institute of Education in developing digital content that is mapped into the current curriculum.

Mr Matunga said creating an educated market that is ready to embrace use of technology would be key to the company’s success.

“We look at how we can work all those in the education system to promote e-learning and the net effect is that two, three years down the line we will have an educated market that knows and appreciates technology,” he said.

He however believes that more partners ought to join in taking ICT to the education sector.

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While initial efforts have been made between the government and the private sector, he said the lack of adequate funding is slowing down the speed at which technology is used in teaching.

“We don’t expect that Microsoft will be funding this all the way and have to call in more partners to chip in,” he said.

Mr Matunga said faster adoption of ICT in schools had the potential of leveling the education in rural and urban areas.

The comments were made during three days of interactive workshops, teacher exhibitions and judging by a renowned panel of African education experts, at the Pan-African Innovative Education Forum.

Microsoft Partners in Learning announced the regional winners of the 2010 Innovative Teacher Awards at the Forum, which took place at the Aga Khan Academy, in Mombasa.

The teachers awarded first place in each category are:

Innovation in Community
•    Best Practice: Samuel Avornyor (Ghana), “Rural Food Processing Industries”

Innovation in Collaboration
•    Best Practice: Linda Bradfield (South Africa), “Trash to Treasure”

Innovation in Content
•    Best Practice: Warren Sparrow (South Africa), “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

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Educators’ Choice Award
•    Best Practice: Lilian Ofori-Asare (Lesotho), “Amazing Maize”

Judges’ Award

•    Best Practice: Berlina Mokhakala (Lesotho)

The winners will next meet at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum on 25-30 October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Held for the first time on the continent, the Worldwide Forum will host approximately 150 teachers from over 100 countries to help create global communities of educators that can share ideas and best practices with their peers.


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