Posted by Warren H. A. La Fleur, Regional Manager, Education Industry for Microsoft West, East, Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands
Across the African continent, growing evidence suggests that learning by using technology is essential to deliver good academic results and to supply a tech savvy work force pool, according to The eLearning Africa Report 2014. Up to date, educational institutions in 18 different African countries have introduced new ways of ensuring learners and students become more ICT-literate to guarantee these job seekers have equal access to tomorrow’s sough-after careers world-wide – an imperative in today’s market, where worldwide youth unemployment is continuing to rise.
With that said, and against a backdrop of ever increasing availability of broadband in Africa, eligible students and teachers in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Senegal and Zimbabwe can now get Office 356 ProPlus (formerly known as Student Advantage) which lets students and teachers install free Office when their academic institution are signed up. This brings an affordable productivity solution to students to collaborate online and to have access to email and 1 Terabyte of cloud storage, today.
Recent studies found that today’s education system is not adequately preparing students for the jobs of the future. In fact, IDC research commissioned by Microsoft found that this skills gap could be closed by focusing on communications, knowledge integration and presentation skills; combined with a solid competence in the Microsoft Office tools that facilitate 21st century work. And in a tight job market, having the right skills means a better chance at securing that dream job.
Moreover, academic institutions on the continent are dealing with shrinking budgets against growing requirements. We listened to those challenges. So when schools and tertiary institutions allow Microsoft to host collaboration and communication services, schools directly benefit from the latest world-class and secure technology while reducing costs.
Students on the other hand have quick and easy access to Microsoft’s familiar and secure collaboration tools from anywhere, and on any device by signing up using their school-specific email address. By familiarising themselves with these tools while studying puts them ahead of the digital pack when it’s time to enter the tech-heavy workplace. It is here where they are often required to know their way around tools such as Outlook, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Lync and are expected to have good presentation skills and collaborate effectively with colleagues.
According to the IDC data, the only software package called out within the top 20 skills in demand across all occupations is Microsoft Office. High-growth, high-salary occupations of the future consistently require a high level of competence in communication, knowledge integration and presentation skills. And many 21st century employers specifically require Microsoft Office or Microsoft Office-related skills.
With tools like Lync, they can seamlessly collaborate with students in classrooms around the world. And with OneNote, students can keep class notes, photos, and important information in one, easy-to-find location that’s available on all of their devices (PCs, Macs, Windows Phone, iPhones, iPads, Android Phones, Android Tablets) and now even wearables. Students can type directly into their notebooks, capture and convert photos of whiteboards and handouts, even record meetings or voice memos, and they’re all available from any device with a simple search. Using their Office 365 ID also means they can access the same Office content while on the go with the mobile apps on Windows Phone, iPhones and Android Phones.
In order to provide a historically familiar technology tool to students at no additional cost, an education institution needs to have an Office 365 ProPlus license in place for its staff and faculty. Institutions in these 18 African countries wishing to participate are encouraged to sign up for an academic agreement via a local Microsoft partner.
Through the YouthSpark initiative, we have to date provided education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for more than 227 million young people in more than 100 countries around the world since 2012, with plans to reach 300 million across the three year initiative.
To check your eligibility and learn more about Office 365 ProPlus go to office.com/getoffice365. For more information on the benefits of Office in education visit Microsoft in Education. Students can also explore additional deals and resources Microsoft has to offer specifically for them on the Microsoft Student Page.