Saturday, October 5th marked World Teachers’ Day, an annual celebration established by UNESCO in 1997 to highlight the accomplishments of educators and the serious challenges they face. According to UNESCO, 29 countries won’t have enough teachers by 2030 unless 3.3 million primary and 5.1 million secondary teaching positions are created and filled. These significant gaps threaten progress for all aspects of society and require all of us to redouble our efforts to reform education.
Here at Microsoft, through our education programs, people, technology, devices and services, we’re committed to those efforts 365 days a year. And if the response to our call for applications to the Microsoft Expert Educators and Mentor Schools programs is any indication, teachers and school leaders around the world are just as committed to the future of education. As of the September 30th application deadline, 22,000 educators from over 150 countries were engaged in those programs. I see this kind of response as a clear sign that education innovation is alive and well all over the globe.
I want to thank each and every one of the educators and school leaders who applied for these programs and a chance to join us in Barcelona from March 11 – 14, 2014. For me, the response was both humbling and inspiring, and I cannot wait to see who will win!
We’re also thrilled to announce a new name for the event: the Microsoft in Education Global Forum. Formerly known as the Partners in Learning Global Forum, we wanted to fully emphasize how this unique event will represent the depth and scale of Microsoft’s commitment to education. And this new name signifies the exciting evolution of this year’s Global Forum. Winning Expert Educators and Mentor Schools will experience the most impactful and biggest Global Forum ever with attendees from more than 80 countries, an expanded scope, and what we believe will be an even greater impact on education innovation around the globe. We knew we had to “go bigger” based on what we’ve heard from global education heroes and experts to address the big needs and opportunities we face in education. As we all know, education is the most effective agent of positive change and only our collective efforts will build a better future for our students. Throughout the year, we partner with all education stakeholders, helping people around the world to empower students through the meaningful use of technology, and allowing them to reach their full potential.
Our teams of global judges are carefully reviewing each application and we will be announcing the winning applicants in early November. Stay tuned! At that time, we’ll also begin to share – via this blog and others — more details about our event in Barcelona. But here’s what we can tell you today: As always, the event promises to be a life-changing experience for the teachers, education leaders, higher education faculty, policy-makers and partners in attendance. I think Croatian teacher Arjana Blazic, a previous Global Forum attendee, fully captured the spirit of the event, noting, “The Global Forum opened up a whole new world for me – a world of lifelong learning, sharing and above all, connecting and collaborating with enthusiastic like-minded teachers from all over the globe.”
In the months leading up to the Microsoft in Education Global Forum, we’ll be hosting lively discussions about teaching innovation and technology on our Partners in Learning Network Community Forum. We’ll also be sharing many more details about what we’ll see, hear and experience in Barcelona. We encourage you to take part in this great community, whether or not you’re joining us in Barcelona this March. I will also share some insightful stories on my blog www.dailyedventures.com so that we can all get inspired and ready to celebrate the best education event of the year. I look forward to hearing your ideas – in the community forum, on Twitter @AnthonySalcito, or in person at the event. I’m sure you’ll agree that together, we ARE partners in learning, and we can make a significant and meaningful difference in the world, giving us all something to celebrate on future National Teachers’ Days.