A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed, between the British Council and Microsoft. The MOU, signed by Adrian Chadwick, Regional Director, British Council, Middle East and North Africa and Samer Abu Ltaif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft will see both parties collaborate on opportunities that seek to develop the 21st Century skills of young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The partnership builds on Microsoft and the British Council’s complementary expertise in education, technology, and cultural relations. Microsoft brings its expertise in delivering cutting edge technology and digital training; and the British Council brings its world leading English content and teaching, access to UK education sector and track record of managing large scale education reform from its 76 years of work in MENA.
This partnership will see both organisations collaborate across several focus areas of mutual interest, in which programme opportunities will be explored and developed to complement the expertise of each organisation. The objective is to provide young people in MENA with the key 21st Century skills employers seek, in particular English and ICT.
The key focus areas include:
1) Support technological innovation and learning in schools
Both the British Council and Microsoft will utilise their superior content and platforms to develop assets, programs and initiatives that will provide teachers and learners with the tools, resources and knowledge to use technology that supports learning in schools.
Microsoft will supply its content and programs for Innovative schools; in particular, the Innovative School framework, the Self Reflection Tool, the Innovation workshops as well as the School Research tool: www.PilSR.com. The British Council will supply content from Connecting Classrooms, that will link UK and MENA schools to share experience, knowledge and skills between pupils and teachers across the globe.
2) Support the professional development of teachers in MENA
The British Council and Microsoft will work together to align their professional development content for teachers where possible. In doing so they will be able to amplify the impact and ensure it reaches as many teachers in MENA as possible.
3) Supporting improvements to standards of English in MENA
Both the British Council and Microsoft will explore the promotion of English Language to education stakeholders. Partnering to improve the English teaching and learning for education institutions and for employment.
Commenting on the significance of the signing, Adrian Chadwick, Regional Director, British Council MENA said: “This is an important partnership that aims to provide tens of millions of young people in the Middle East and North Africa with the opportunity to learn and develop important 21st Century skills that are needed to propel economies, namely English and ICT.
Microsoft Regional General Manager, Samer Abu Ltaif said; "It is through better preparing our learners for work and life that we enable the new generation in our region to have a brighter future and be a positive catalyst in economic growth and prosperity. The partnership with British Council, as expressed in this MoU, is a step in this direction and illustrates our joint commitment to our region and its youth".
Economic growth and job creation remains one of the most pressing challenges for governments in the region. The OECD estimates that 4 million young people enter the jobs market every year in MENA, and the League of Arab States research shows that MENA economies will need to create 50 million new jobs by 2020, just to stop the current rate of unemployment from rising.
Speaking on how such a partnership will support greater employment opportunities and economic growth, Adrian Chadwick added; “We live in a globalised, knowledge-based, technology driven world, in which the hunt for jobs is highly competitive, especially here in MENA. This partnership brings together two leaders in their fields to generate new ideas, solutions and products that will equip young people with the 21st Century skills of English and ICT. These skills are in high demand and are important skills that any globally competitive work force must have.”