500,000 Office 365 Education Software licences to be provided free of cost
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is partnering with American computer software giant, Microsoft to enhance the learning experience in the country.
The announcement, which was made in Parliament this afternoon, will see Microsoft proving free of cost, 500,000 Microsoft Office 365 Education Software licences to students in educational institutions. This is being done in an effort to make technology readily available to Jamaican students and expose them to a suite of skills and applications that will enhance their learning experience while preparing them for the 21st Century workforce.
Education Minister Fayval Williams, who made the announcement, said the partnership is a continuation of her ministry’s drive to make Jamaica’s children digitally ready for the 21st Century.
Williams told Parliament that “the free 500,000 licences of Office 365 EDU A3 licence plan for students in Jamaica, include full office suite with Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher (PC only), Access (PC only) and services that include Teams, SharePoint, Forms etc. This licences also allow 500,000 students to download the Office Pro Plus (Word, Excel, etc.) to any of their home PC’s, so they enjoy the same experience at school and at home”.
The ministry will be distributing these licences to classroom teachers, principals, students at the secondary level, as well as students at teachers’ colleges, community colleges and other multi-disciplinary institutions.
INSTITUTIONS AND GROUPS TO BENEFIT
The minister, in her statement to Parliament, singled out Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Agriculture, Science & Education, GC Foster College, the Caribbean Maritime University, Knockalva Polytechnic, students in the equivalent of grades 10 – 13 at independent schools and children in primary schools.
The approximate annual value of the 500,000 Microsoft Office 365 Education Software licences (assuming all 500,000 licences are downloaded), is US$15 million or J$2.1 billion. Since Microsoft Office 365 is a Cloud-based platform, students will always have the most current and secure version.
Williams pointed out that her ministry has taken 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. This, she explained, gives them a head start not only in their career paths as seekers of employment but also creators of employment (entrepreneurs).
“It should be noted that students will have access to the Microsoft Office 365 Education Software as long as they are students in our participating educational institutions,” the education minister said.
She added: “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.”
For its part, Microsoft has affirmed the partnership and its commitment to education in Jamaica; underscoring mutual benefit.
Country Manager for Microsoft Jamaica, Yamile Bustamante stated that, “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.”