Transforming education worldwide with digital access

29 May 2012 | Joice Fernandes, Senior Director, Microsoft Worldwide Public Private Alliances

​Around the world and across governments, priorities vary widely. But one of the few things that policymakers and government leaders have in common is the pressing need to reform education and bring the learners of the world into the 21st century by equipping them with access to the tools and technologies of the digital age. Microsoft shares this vision and passion and believes in every student’s right to have access to the best possible digital learning experience.

To help achieve that vision, in 2007 Microsoft launched a program called Shape the Future. By bringing together the vast network of Microsoft assets designed for education and learning and focusing them on digital inclusion solutions, the Shape the Future team works with governments and education leaders to create and implement comprehensive digital access solutions for all types of learners. In the brief five years since it began, Shape the Future has provided innovative digital access solutions to over 10 million learners in over 50 countries. 

As a Microsoft program, it’s easy to assume that Shape the Future is all about PCs and software, but it’s much more than just that. At the heart of Shape the Future are partnerships that bring together a massive ecosystem of stakeholders who work together to implement comprehensive digital inclusion solutions in their respective countries. In any given country, a Shape the Future initiative involves dozens of partners, including telecoms, banks, retail partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government ministries, local software/hardware companies, and education organizations—to name a few. Together, these public-private partnerships are crafting unique digital access solutions that are specific to individual governments and the needs of their citizens.

And, each partner brings a unique element to the table, such as financing, local educational expertise, program support, initial funding, providing credit facilities, and more. These components – when combined with Microsoft’s leading education assets such as world-class teacher training and educational capacity-building from our Partners in Learning program, local language assistance from our Local Language Program, customized IT training from our IT Academy curriculum and many other programs—result in solutions that can make a real difference, which so many governments want to see in their educational systems.

In many ways, Shape the Future achieved critical mass with a nationwide solution for the government of Portugal. In 2008, the Portuguese government saw the need to alter the course of the digital literacy and workforce readiness of school-aged children. Working with Microsoft and a variety of public and private partners, the team created a solution that resulted in 500,000students receiving Internet-connected laptops, as well as training for teachers, customized curriculum development and targeted educational applications for these laptops. Together, this solution has energized digital learning across all of Portugal. Learn more about this solution.

Shape the Future works in all regions of the world and in all countries, from large, developed markets like the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe, to developing and fast-growing regions such as India, Latin America and Asia Pacific. From Azerbaijan to Zambia and almost everywhere in between, we find students hungry for educational opportunities that digital inclusion can provide. 

While Shape the Future is a government program, it is our passion to help children realize their full potential that drives us every day. Nowhere is that more evident than on our Facebook page for Shape the Future, which has more than 600,000 fans and is growing every day. Take a second to visit our page and catch the momentum of this movement.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Joice Fernandes
Senior Director, Microsoft Worldwide Public Private Alliances

About the Author

Joice Fernandes | Senior Director, Microsoft Worldwide Public Private Alliances

Joice leads a worldwide team that provides millions of new users with access to digital technology. In this role, he often serves as a trusted advisor to governments, helping them realize the full potential of their digital inclusion citizen initiatives.