By Patrick Onwumere, Director of Youth Enablement, Microsoft 4Afrika

 When we think about technology in education, we don’t just think about putting devices into the hands of teachers and students. We think beyond it. We think about education, training and infrastructure – vital investments needed to support the effective integration of ICT into the classroom. We want to deliver experiences that students and educators love. And so hardware isn’t the main priority. A relevant, valuable and practical education is.

With that in mind, today Microsoft, Intel and the Kenya Private Schools Association have all joined forces to launch the 4Afrika Youth Device Pilot Program in Kenya. We’ve set out to create a bundle offering, to provide affordable devices, educational applications, online services, affordable data plans and smart financing to Kenyan learning institutions. This forms part of our Microsoft 4Afrika Youth Initiative, which was unveiled last year to provide scholarships, fellowships and internship opportunities to thousands of African youth.

Here’s how the Program works.

Affordable devices                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
The 4Afrika Youth Device Program will be providing a range of affordable devices to learning institutions. These devices include smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs and the Intel Classmate. Intel Corporation East Africa, together with Mitsumi Computer Garage, have played a huge role in designing customised, rugged devices for this Program. The devices are water-resistant, dust-resistant and built to fit a classroom setting, and are also optimised for the provision of digital textbooks with Skype installed, to enable students and teachers to collaborate between classrooms and from home. "The devices all come with Intel® Education Software, a suite of eLearning tools including the newly launched Intel Explore and Learn, designed to promote deeper engagement with content, plus apps that enable science exploration, data analysis and promote creativity," says Alex Twinomugisha, Business Development Manager for Intel Corporation East Africa.

Educational applications
Each device in this Program will come pre-loaded with the latest versions of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and the cloud-based Office 365 suite, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition to this, each device will have a range of educational applications, games and digital books installed, including:

  • The Khan Academy suite
    A personalised learning solution with over 100,000 exercise problems and over 4000 micro lectures via video tutorials. The suite covers mathematics, history, physics, chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, business and computer science and more.
  • Intel Explore & Learn Marketplace
    A mobile application where learners can find and download free and paid for textbooks, worksheets,  instructional videos and exam preparation materials.

 Training
In addition to affordable devices, Microsoft and Intel will be training educators on how best to integrate technology into their classrooms. This will be done through the Intel Teach program – a series of courses designed to help educators teach critical digital skills – and Microsoft’s Teach with Technology course, which leads to the Microsoft Certified Educator Accreditation.


Infrastructure

Bandwidth is a top ICT priority, and so each user in our Program will be provided with affordable and tailored data packages from Safaricom. These include 5GB and 10GB bundles for PCs and laptops, to ensure teachers and students stay connected.

With regards to financing for Kenyan institutions, bank loans and contributions will be made available from Equity Bank and M-Changa, a mobile money-based way to contribute towards the purchase of devices.

We’re so excited to be launching this 4Afrika Youth Device Program, and to be supporting efforts in e-Learning. Based on the success of this pilot in Kenya, we hope to soon extend the Program to South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. There are 209 m
illion students and 6.7 million educators across Africa. Our goal is to offer affordable devices, educational applications and online services to as many as possible, through strategic cost ownership, education partner ecosystem and training support.

For more information on the Microsoft 4Afrika Youth Program, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/africa/youth4afrika/