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Microsoft donates R20m to support students

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Microsoft South Africa has announced a software donation to the value of nearly R20-million to the Maharishi Institute, which provides students with access to financial assistance and other support, to complete a tertiary degree via distance education, as well as the opportunity to gain workplace experience.
“One of the most important and toughest roles every educator plays is preparing students for their next step in their careers; whether that is tertiary education or the workplace,” says Zoaib Hoosen, MD of Microsoft SA . “With a mission to empower every student to achieve more, Microsoft is constantly looking for ways to assist educators in this mission – with the help of technology.”
In order to be successful in the modern workplace and tertiary studies, learners need to master a number of skills that form part and partial of 21st century learning design – namely collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. When the right tools are used to reinforce these broad-based, cross-functional skills, learners are not only able to find work, but become empowered to do impactful work from the start.
“We are incredibly grateful to Microsoft for the fantastically generous donation of over $1,3-million (more than R20-million) worth of software. This will be turned into billions of rands in lifetime incomes for the young people who will be educated using this software. We truly value our partnership with Microsoft,” says Dr Taddy Blecher, CEO of the Maharishi Institute.
The Institute and its founding organisation has assisted 15 250 unemployed South Africans to be educated, and placed into employment. These formerly unemployed youth now have combined salaries of just under R1-billion per annum, expected life-time earnings in excess of R23-billion.
In order to benefit from the software solutions, South Africans need to apply to the Maharishi Institute to access Skills Courses and Degree Programmes through partner institutions. The organisation offers access to a four year degree programme via distance education, alongside work experience, and also plans to offers shorter skills programmes where non-students will be able to benefit from the donation.
According to Blecher, the Institute will utilise the software for developing the IT and computer literacy skills of people who would not ordinarily have access to this type of training. This should help address the local skills gap and assist in raising the level of workplace readiness of graduates.
The donation is for the standard Microsoft products (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, etc.) and Windows 10 licenses along with the associated training courses. This will ensure that MI is able to install licensed versions onto all the PCs on campus, and provide training courses to students.
The latter will be used to upskill students and will be offered to non-students on Saturdays as a way for them to learn how to use the Microsoft products and become PC literate. Through this initiative, MI will be able to make young, unemployed, computer illiterate South Africans more equipped with better skills and ultimately more employable. Students will not be able to install the products on their computers, but will have 100% available access to computers with the programmes at MI.