While Indonesia’s economy is fast rising to be the largest in Southeast Asia, its education sector is still struggling hard to catch up with its economic improvements. The lack of funding and infrastructure continues to challenge the educational progress of many Indonesian children who make up nearly 30 percent of the archipelago nation.

Despite these difficulties, Nura Uma Annisa, teacher and information and communications technology (ICT) manager at pre-school KB-TK Islam Al-Azhar 22 Semarang in Java, persevered so that her school and its 200 students, aged between five and seven years old, would enjoy early years education on par with better-equipped pre-schools.

As an advocator of technology in education, Nura is no stranger to Microsoft. In 2011, she won the Most Edutaining award in the Microsoft National Innovative Teachers Competition, and attended the 2012 Partners in Learning (PiL) Global Forum in Prague. Driven by her passion for better educational outcomes, Nura led her school to participate in the Microsoft IT Makeover Contest Asia Pacific, which saw entries from sectors as disparate as agricultural equipment manufacturing and handicraft-making, and successfully pulled ahead of the other eight finalists to emerge champion.

“Our school’s IT facilities were very outdated. We were using old computers and doing administrative work manually. What we could do was limited, as some computers were running on older Office versions like Microsoft Office 2003,” explained Nura. “That’s why I jumped at this opportunity, for if we were to win, we could transform the way our school operates and advance our teaching methods.”

As the winner, KB-TK Islam Al-Azhar 22 Semarang received US$15,000 worth of Windows 8 Pro devices, Office 365 Small Business Premium seats and Microsoft Support Services. School operations have become more systematic, collaborative and cost-effective; paper usage has been reduced; and staff have increased their teaching productivity.

“Now, the headmaster and teaching staff are able to easily share study plans using OneDrive and Office 365, and are collaborating with the Al-Azhar Pre-School headquarters in Jakarta on the curriculum and study materials. Most importantly, our children are enjoying Windows 8 immensely, as they get to learn and play at the same time!” enthused Nura.

Started in May 2013, Get2Modern SME IT Makeover Contest is aimed at encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which include educational institutions, in Asia Pacific to enhance their management and simplify increasingly complex business operations with the use of technology.

According to Lucky Gani, Business Group Head, Windows Division, Microsoft Indonesia, “Through this competition, we want participants to look at technology as an essential means of boosting operational productivity, not just an added, optional feature. It is all about modernising their operations and focusing on what matters most for their organisations.” Nura using Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 to teach her early years class