Microsoft’s commitment to capacity building is highlighted through programmes that have empowered citizens at their workplace, schools and homes. A massive investment of over Rs. 450 million in cash and over Rs. 4 billion of free software donations to deserving communities and students have paved the way for many Sri Lankans to increase their IT literacy and adopt cutting edge software, the company noted.
Special emphasis has been placed on the education and training sphere, to catalyse the promotion of global knowledge standards across the country, touching the lives of 25% of the current student population. With investments reaching over Rs. 166 million in cash and much more in software donations, the company has so far trained over 12,000 teachers and reached over 34,000 lives through this initiative.
Microsoft revealed that the Innovative Teachers and Students National Competition conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Education began with just 125 entries in 2005, and in 2010, it attracted as much as 80,000 entries with over 95% of winners coming from areas outside of Colombo, igniting a passion for IT among students even from the farthest corner of the island.
The company identified Uva Province as one of the most indigent areas of the country back in 2005 and initiated its own ‘Uva Revolution’ by training over 3,000 teachers in IT in that area within a very short time. In addition, via the installation of 400 Multipoint technology-enabled classrooms across the country, in partnership with the MOE, through the EKSP project, Microsoft helps create an affordable solution that allows each student to simultaneously experience IT using just one computer and a projector.
According to Microsoft, it has reached a wide range of people, through its training programmes done in partnerships with SLANA, the Vocational Training Authority, the Foreign Employment Bureau, NGOs such as Sarvodaya, Infoshare and corporate giants like HSBC.
The investment in this area reaching over Rs. 175 million was channelled to train over 45,000 individuals including migrant workers and youth, whilst indirectly affecting over 135,000 lives. Most recently, a partnership with the National NGO Secretariat under the patronage of the Ministry of Defence saw registered NGOs in Sri Lanka obtaining Microsoft software worth over Rs. 100 million for free, which would help them serve the communities better.
The tertiary education component of Microsoft’s outreach focuses on undergraduates and academia with programmes such as Imagine Cup and Software for the 21st Century. The Software for the 21st Century program has 16 State and 6 private universities having access to free genuine Microsoft software to install on their university laboratory, work or personal computers.
Imagine Cup, the largest student competition in the country, has placed Sri Lanka on the global IT map with 11 teams representing the country at the Worldwide Finals where over 325,000 students from over 100 countries participate.