Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) and Microsoft (Thailand) Ltd have signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide 8 million students and 400,000 teachers across Thailand with free access to Microsoft Office 365 for education.
The agreement, which also includes the extension of the Partners in Learning initiative to 2019, represents the single biggest cloud service deployment for Microsoft in the education sector globally.
“OBEC and Microsoft have enjoyed 10 years of collaboration for the betterment of Thailand’s future under Partners in Learning,” said OBEC Senior Advisor in Technology for Teaching and Learning Anek Ratpiyapaporn.
“The 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan states that Thailand’s top priority is to develop its human resources through improvement in education. Microsoft’s support will ensure that educators and students are empowered with solutions and platforms that are aligned with their needs.
“This initiative will play a key role in our preparations for ASEAN Economic Community integration and drive the development of 21st century skills that are vital to the Smart Thailand 2020 strategy, whose key objective is to foster sustainable national growth and raise the standard of living through technology,” Ratpiyapaporn added.
Conceived in 2003, Partners in Learning is a global Microsoft program that fosters innovative use of technology in education to help students and teachers around the world maximise their potential.
In Thailand, Partners in Learning has reached out to more than 164,000 teachers and 8 million students across 39,000 schools nationwide.
Haresh Khoobchandani, managing director of Microsoft (Thailand), said, “This memorandum of understanding underscores our long-term commitment to Thailand and our vision of a holistic transformation of the Thai education system. Throughout Microsoft’s 20 years in Thailand, we have invested $5.2 million (156 million THB) in Thai education as part of our vision of We Make 70 Million Lives Better.
“Two million university students and staff members are already taking advantage of cloud technology through Office 365 for education, and this landmark partnership with OBEC will increase the number of users to more than 10 million,” Khoobchandani said.
“This enables schools and universities across Thailand to create massive repositories of knowledge that can be accessed and shared anywhere, anytime, and on any device in a secured and trusted environment.”
Under the deal, schools under OBEC jurisdiction will gain access to Office 365 for education, giving students and teachers alike the ability to create, connect and collaborate on an advanced and enterprise-ready cloud platform that is safe and secured.
A 2013 IDC study commissioned by Microsoft found that proficiency with Microsoft Office applications ranks high at No. 3 of the top 20 in-demand skills globally. The study also found that 29 percent of high growth or salary occupations call for Microsoft Office or Microsoft Office-related skills, such as word processing, spreadsheets and financial reporting.
“With young people between the ages of 15 and 24 forming the largest segment of the unemployed in Thailand, there is a pressing need to drive transformational change in education,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft.
“The full impact of Microsoft’s partnership with OBEC is not simply in the millions of students that will have access to the most compelling and engaging technology for education and collaborative learning. It will be seen in how we are able to effectively integrate technology into the classroom to help prepare these students with the skills of the future.”