24 November 2004

Nigeria: Why Microsoft Endorsed MOU On PiL - Ilukwe

Lagos — COUNTRY Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, has given reasons why his firm endorsed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Partners in Learning (PiL) programme last Monday.

Speaking at the end of the ceremony in Abuja, Mr. Ilukwe said that it would help in setting the future standard in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in education in the country.

Business Champion notes that government and Microsoft, penultimate Monday signed on November 15, 2004, MoU to bring skills to education, in the spirit of what has become a global digital society.

With the MoU, Nigerian students would gain experience of information and communication technology (ICT) while in school, just as schools must be supported in their endeavours to provide this education.

"PiL is a strategic programme for us here in Nigeria ... it helps us to bring ICT directly into the classroom and to provide a platform for the digital, intellectual and socio-economic growth of this populous country," Ilukwe explained.

With PiL, he said, Microsoft focuses initially on training and developing the ICT skills of the teachers. Once that is completed, they can lead training and effectively enhance the experience had by their students.

"We work closely with those teachers and other educational leaders - such as SchoolNet - to help develop the curricula such that technology can play a greater role. And we offer the support and resources necessary to underpin the success in the classroom," said Ilukwe.

A press statement from Microsoft Nigeria and endorsed by the Marketing Manager, Mrs. Uloma Umano, said, the MoU was signed by Mallam Mustapha Jaji, the executive secretary of the Education Tax Fund (ETF) on behalf of the government, said the programme would be effective in raising awareness and experience of ICT in educational institutions across Nigeria.

He also called for other private sector organisations to emulate Microsoft and partner with the public sector in similar ventures.

With the launch of this programme, Nigeria is the ninth African country to become part of the Microsoft PIL roll out.

Each country's programme is customised to take into account and meet the specific needs of students and teachers. Where appropriate, those students and teachers are also afforded an opportunity to become software developers through the Microsoft Assisted Developers Support Skills programme.

In addition to supporting schools with technology and training, the ETF and Microsoft would be seeking to establish a forum of strategic organisations that can help develop a roadmap for increasing ICT literacy among Nigeria and such a forum would naturally support the technology drive in the education sector. It would also be help to develop a Teacher Training Methodology (TIM) that could act as the future standard for schools across the nation.

"This is not about the sporadic donation of technology or the one-off signing of a document of intent. We are here to create sustainable long-term models for the transformation of technology's role in the education sector by bringing our resources, practices and programmes together in partnership with the efforts of the Nigerian government," Mr. Ilukwe asserted.

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