By Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education
For the first time this week, a Microsoft in Education Global Forum was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This Forum was important for many reasons – first and foremost, to highlight the achievements of some amazing teachers and schools in the Middle East, Africa and India. The 450 educators and leaders we met at the event were integrating technology in their classrooms in fresh ways, and making a big difference in a region where access to quality education can be especially inconsistent, and where preparation for the workforce is key to competitiveness, stability and economic growth.
These Microsoft Innovative Educators and Showcase Schools represented 35 countries in the region. They were joined by government leaders, inspiring speakers and top Microsoft Education technology partners including Intel, Dell, Promethean, All Prints, Sayegh, McGraw Hill and ITWorx Education – all with a common goal: to make the technology needed for college and career readiness available to as many students as possible.
To that end, I was proud to represent Microsoft in announcing the global expansion of our ground-breaking Office 365 ProPlus Benefit, which is already providing millions of students and teachers with the powerful capabilities of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Access on up to five PCs or Macs and mobile devices — including Android, iPad and Windows tablets. Now, millions more deserving teachers and their students at eligible schools can download – at no cost – this business-class productivity platform.
For education leaders gathered at the Dubai Global Forum, the ProPlus benefit is a game changer. According to Mohammed Gheyath, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme, "We've chosen Microsoft for its ability to provide end-to-end solutions that meet all our needs and for helping us to crystallize the UAE's vision and the objectives of the Ministry of Education for a high quality education system. From innovative, secured devices and best-in-class productivity to collaboration apps and comprehensive management capabilities, Microsoft has shown great commitment to empowering our youth with a balanced set of skills required in today's very competitive work environment."
Bringing the Office 365 ProPlus benefit to the world narrows the opportunity gap between those who have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not. This helps to tackle the growing problem of youth unemployment, and along with programs like Microsoft's YouthSpark, it represents a significant step in reversing the inequality that results in so many of mankind's most pressing problems.
Microsoft is committed to transforming education around the globe. Providing a platform like the Global Forum to recognize and reward progress is an important part of that commitment. But at the end of the day, transformation at scale requires the broad distribution of critical resources and tools like Office 365, so that every community and every school has what they need to prepare students for the challenges of a competitive global marketplace.