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Microsoft supports rural education in China
Latest Updated by 2006-04-12 10:11:06

Improvements in rural schools hold the key to advancing education in China.

Indeed, 400,114 primary and junior schools, or 93 per cent of the total on the Chinese mainland are located outside city areas, according to "Essential Statistics of Education in China: 2005," a document report by the Department of Development and Planning of the Ministry of Education.

These schools have a joint enrolment of some 143 million rural students, which accounts for 84 per cent of the total enrolment.

To improve the efficiency and quality of rural education and boost the sharing of educational resources between urban and rural areas, China started a strategic national educational project in 2004 called the "Modern Distance Education Project in Rural Primary and Secondary Schools."

The investment amounts to 10 billion yuan (US$1.23 billion) from both central and local governments.

It is against this project that the "Partners in Learning" (PiL) Programme was launched by the Ministry of Education, in co-operation with Microsoft China to support rural education in information technology.

PiL is one of the most important co-operative programmes with leading overseas companies for the Ministry of Education, Tang Jingwei, an official with the ministry, said.

"The Ministry of Education welcomes leading global companies to support the reform and development of Chinese education," said Tang.

Microsoft is just one of many IT companies who have participated in Chinese educational reform, Tang added.

"As a leading software company, Microsoft would like to help more people who do not have enough access to information technology change their lives and fulfil their dreams by making use of its resources and technological advantages," said Zuo Jingyun, director of education in charge of PiL in Microsoft China.

Huang believes that PiL actively involves itself in solving practical educational problems in the rural areas.

"PiL is a creative way of adapting the energetic IT industry into the conservative education field," Huang said.

By the end of 2005, 100 computer classrooms had been put to use mainly in underdeveloped rural areas, spreading into 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions throughout China.

To make sure that 100 computer classrooms can be fully used by these rural schools, Microsoft China has developed a training programme for teaching staff.

Three modes have been adopted for training: a DVD curriculum, which forms the basic level, followed by traditional classroom instruction, which completes the secondary and advanced training. This is integrated with an online support platform to achieve continuous learning.

By the end of 2004, three training centres had been established in Huazhong Normal University in Hubei Province, Northwest Normal University in Gansu Province and Yunnan Normal University in Yunnan Province.

Meanwhile, a series of fundamental, secondary and advanced training course books have been developed, and more than 20,000 teachers have undergone training with the programme.

To further help rural teachers develop their ability to apply computers in teaching, 37 university graduates with a specialty in education technology were invited to offer volunteer services to schools, with Microsoft providing computer rooms in 11 provinces during the 2005 summer vacation.

PiL programme is one of Microsoft's most important ways to "contribute to society as a corporate citizen," Zuo said.

Editor: Wing

By: Source:China View website
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