Wednesday, 30 October 2013

UN, Facebook and Microsoft root for science education


Children browse the Internet at the summit in Kigali on Tuesday. The New Times/T. Kisambira

Officials from the United Nations, Facebook and Microsoft have pledged to support science-based education in Africa and Rwanda in particular.

Matt Perault, Facebook’s head of global policy development, said the social networking media is currently looking at ways of reducing the cost of accessing data on the African continent.

He said the company welcomes the idea of supporting innovative projects, especially in data efficiency and data application right at the student level.

“We would like the public on this continent to understand that they can use information to drive the outcome on the African continent and more specifically in Rwanda,” Perault said.

“Giving the young generation robust kinds of activities that will keep them connect in the areas of knowledge will strengthen growth in this country.”

Robert Kayihura, the Microsoft legal and corporate affairs director, also affirmed the company’s commitment to support over 200,000 youth within the circles of ICTs, including fresh graduates in other science disciplines in a bid to develop African talents in areas of technology and innovation.

“We hope to partner with government and other stakeholders in building the youth capacity in science and technology through supporting science subjects,” Kayihura said.

He said Microsoft has so far established about 10,000 partners on the African continent and looks forward to scaling up this partnership.

“We are looking at scaling up our support on the African continent through our partners through our African strategy which we launched seven months ago,” he said.

Microsoft has more than 600,000 partners across the world.

The US global IT firm announced in April that Rwanda was among few countries in Africa which were selected as the beneficiaries of “Microsoft 4Afrika initiative” which seek to put one million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online.

The initiative is worth $75 million (about Rwf47 billion).

Microsoft intends to help 75 per cent of fresh graduates in the select African nations get job placements.

The government is considering five key areas where to partner with the Microsoft initiative, including services such as e-government, e-health, e-agriculture, e-education and the growth of SMEs using the power of information and telecommunication technology.

Tapping the fabrics

Rodrigo Arboleda, the chair and chief executive of One-Laptop-Per-Child project, tasked the companies to create an more impact by extending the service to rural Africa to grow the continent’s ability to innovate.

The move, considered the only plausible way to develop Africa’s innovative talent, will create millions of jobs across the continent, according to Lamin Manneh, the United Nations resident coordinator.

Manneh, who was addressing the transform Africa Summit 2013 in Kigali, yesterday, said the UN is committed to supporting innovative curriculum   intended to equip the youth with the required market skills.

“We are already working with government entities such as Rwanda Development Board where we have supported the establishment of electronic investment web site for investors to access information about investments in country,” he said.

Manneh said the UN is also ready to continue supporting Rwanda, especially in the areas of capacity building and science education.

“This is where we believe opportunities for Rwanda’s future generation lie,”  he said.

source:The New Times

UN, Facebook and Microsoft root for science education


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