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Microsoft SA, partners launch online portal to empower students

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Microsoft South Africa, together with Intervate and 2enable, have created a portal for young South Africans called Mahala.ms. Through this portal young people can activate licenses for the Microsoft Office 365 suite and OneDrive cloud-based storage services free of charge.
The main objective is to enable learners from grade R to 12 to become more productive and better prepared for the next phase of their academic careers or the workplace, by gaining free access to Office 365’s services, including Microsoft Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint.
In addition, students receive one terabyte (1 000Gb) worth of free OneDrive online storage to save their documents, class notes, assignments, research, podcasts and vodcasts. An IDC study that scanned 16,4-million job postings found that high-growth/high-wage jobs want employees with a range of skills that include a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications.
Peter Reid, executive head of Intervate, notes that for some time Microsoft’s Student Advantage programme has been in place, giving students free access to the Office tools. “But in many schools the problem has been limited capacity to activate the licenses and provision the services.”
Through the Mahala.ms portal, students and parents are able to self-provision their licenses and install the software on up to five devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Students can organise their school and personal data in one secure location, and are able to create and share content as well as collaborate on documents in real-time. Moreover, they can access useful educational resources.
Says Lionel Moyal, office business group lead at Microsoft South Africa: “There are around 12-million learners and students in SA, but only a fraction of them have access to digital tools. As such, there is an immense opportunity to change the fortunes of millions of young people through the Mahala.ms portal, enabling many more students to master the use of technology and acquire 21st century learning skillsets such as collaborating within groups and delivering captivating presentations.”
Reid points out that education is of “fundamental, structural importance to the future of our nation. Wherever we can, we should find ways to make our education system more robust, so students can have better access to technology and to opportunities.”