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Microsoft spends big on Carib technology on Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:47 pm

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Written by jamaica-gleaner.com

Information technology giant Microsoft has earmarked US$10 million per year over the next five years for the upgrade and further expansion of the use of technology in education systems across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Fransisco Moises, education industry director for Latin America and the Caribbean, told journalists at a media briefing here yesterday that the spending reflects Microsoft's commitment to the development of literacy in the region.

The company said it has spent US$30 million in the last six years on an education programme dubbed 'Partners in Education'.

"Education is a priority area for us at Microsoft," Moises told The Gleaner after the start of the Latin America Innovative Educators Forum in which Jamaican teacher Andrae Lyons is participating.

Wants to represent region

Lyons, the Jamaican champion, is seeking to represent the region at the world's final in Brazil later this year.

"I feel very good about my presentation. My project has been warmly received; I have got some great feedback and I am looking to see what happens from here going forward," said Lyons.

On day one of the Latin America Innovative Educators Forum, Lyons defied language barriers and captured the imagination of many persons attending the forum with his project, 'Learning to Read from Basis'.

The project, which he conceptualised and designed as a teaching aid, helps children to identify letter sounds, pronounce words and make sentences.

The images of local heroes Usain Bolt and Marcus Garvey have been used in the child-friendly software, which also has games built in for recreation.

Andres Vazquez Faustino, a Mexican educator, told The Gleaner that Lyons' software programme was "inspiring and encouraging".

"It is very easy to use, it is interactive and it is something that I would use in my school," he said.

For his part, Lyons said he was very happy to be participating in the competition. He bemoaned the fact that he was not able to understand some of the presentations but said that he has been encouraged to return home and incorporate greater use of technology in his classroom.

Results today

The results of the competition, which is taking place among 150 participants from 19 countries, will be announced today.

Meanwhile, Moises has said that he is looking forward for continued success for Jamaica in Microsoft's competitions. He pointed at the performance of Jamaicans at the Imagine Cup in the last few years as evidence of great Jamaican technology talent.

The Argentinian parliament has declared the ongoing forum an event of national importance. Maria Ines Vollmer, secretary for education in Argentina, said that the move towards personalised education with the use of technology could close the gaps between social classes.

"Let us hope that it is an opportunity that we feel we are building a fairer society with the equality of opportunity of education for all," Vollmer said.


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