By Balford Henry,
Education Minister Fayval Williams yesterday announced a partnership with Microsoft to provide 500,000 of the company’s 365 education software licences to local students.
Williams said the approximate annual value, assuming all 500,000 licences are downloaded, is US$15 million, or J$2.1 billion.
“For its part, Microsoft has affirmed the partnership and its commitment to education in Jamaica, underscoring mutual benefits,” she told applauding legislators at the sitting of the House of Representatives at Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
She said the partnership is an effort to make technology readily available to students and expose them to a suite of skills and applications that enhance their learning experience whilst preparing them to be part of the 21st century workforce.
She noted that the 500,000 free Office 365 EDU A3 licence plans include full office suite with Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher (PC only), Access (PC only), and services that include Teams, SharePoint, Forms, et cetera. The licence also allows the students to download the Office Pro Plus (Word, Excel, et cetera) to any of their home PCs, so that they enjoy the same experience at school and at home.
Williams quoted Microsoft Jamaica Country Manager Yamile Bustamante as saying, “Microsoft will contribute to generate more efficient and safe educational environments for Jamaica’s students through Office 365, a complete set of tools that will allow teachers and students to connect and continue their learning paths.”
She said the ministry will be distributing these licences to teachers, principals and students at the secondary level, as well as students at teachers’ colleges, community colleges, and other multi-disciplinary institutions, including Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, College of Agriculture, Science and Education, GC Foster College, Caribbean Maritime University, Knockalva Polytechnic, and students in the equivalent of grades 10 – 13 at independent schools as well as children in primary schools.
Williams said, since Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based platform, students will always have the most current and secure version.
“The ministry is pleased to note that students who use Office 365 Education Software in the classroom, are exposed to and ultimately become conversant with a suite of skills and applications that are highly valued by employers, giving them a head start not only in their career paths, as seekers of employment, but also creators of employment,” she stated.
Students will have access to the Microsoft Office 365 Education Software as long as they are students at the participating educational institutions, the minister said.
“We are only just beginning the technological journey with our children as we empower them to make the grade in the global economy, think their way through abstract problems, work in teams and distinguish good information from bad. We are on the journey to equip our students for the complexities of the 21st century. Our Jamaican children will not be left behind,” Williams added.