I’m excited to be in Washington, D.C. this week among more than 700 of the most talented educators and school leaders from around the world at the 7th annual Partners in Learning Global Forum. This is one of my favorite weeks every year at Microsoft, because it’s actually happening with teachers…real people who are using technology in education to impact children’s lives and advancing students’ interest in learning. The opportunity to get inspired by, to learn from and to hear stories from teachers is amazing.
All these teachers have competed at local and regional events and have earned a spot to compete for 18 Global Innovative Educator Awards. Some of these teachers are leaving their country or village for the first time ever. Just to see them collaborate and share their stories…in many ways are kindred spirits…their innovation is amazing. One gentleman from Latin America had to walk five miles to catch a bus that was another three hour ride just to get to the airport to fly to D.C. These people are heroes back at home and we are so proud to put them on a stage and applaud their accomplishments.
The Partners in Learning Global Forum is not only a celebration of teachers, but it is also a demonstration of the need to cultivate innovative teaching practices. We not only need to help teachers get access to resources and best practices to make them more effective, but we also need to uplift their roles as leaders in their classrooms, their school, their state and country. We hope that in many ways this will help address what will be a huge epidemic of teacher shortages in the near future. The United Nations estimates that another eight million teachers need to be recruited into the profession by 2015. That is a huge gape. What we need to do is support existing teachers to advance and become leaders in their community and really apply the best education models for delivering results and use these teachers as an inspiration for others to enter the profession.
Teachers play a critical role in preparing the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow that will ultimately improve the world economy. A recent McKenzie study estimates by the end of this decade, two-thirds of the jobs that will be created don’t even exist today. New skills will be needed if people are to fill these new and even existing jobs. To help people obtain these new skills we have to start with educators…dedicated individuals who, through their own work, prepare and empower the future generations. If we want great students, we need to start by investing in great teachers.
One of the things we’ve been doing more with Partners in Learning is embracing the connection and working with like-minded partners to drive effective partnerships and scale opportunities to make a difference in education. We believe that when business needs merge with social responsibility, and you bring together organizations that are equally passionate about education…this can be a successful formula for preparing the next generation of leaders.
Today, we announced new partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education, the British Council and the Smithsonian Institution to not only encourage more people to enter the teaching profession, but to improve the quality and access in education and training and resources around the world.
I encourage you to join our global community of education thought leaders to share your best practices and learn from others. We must all work together to make sure every child has access to a quality education, and ultimately change our world for the better.