UK event aims to transform education for millions of students around the world

Microsoft has joined the UK Government at an event in London to work towards transforming education in lower-income countries.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) organised the event, which was attended online and in person by Heads of State from countries including Ghana, Afghanistan and Nigeria, as well as several European nations, and parts of the private sector. It was hosted by the UK Government and President Kenyatta of Kenya.

In lower-income countries, hundreds of millions of girls and boys have not learned basic reading skills by the age of 10, and nearly a quarter of a billion children are still completely excluded from education.

During the event, governments and the private sector committed $5 billion to education funding over the next five years, while GPE nations also agreed commitments on domestic financing for education.

The event included a roundtable focusing on the growing role business partners and philanthropy play in addressing challenges related to girls’ education and data. Led by Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia, and Helen Grant, the UK’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education, the discussion included Steve Beswick (left), Microsoft’s Education Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Beswick said: “Microsoft is proud to be working with Global Partnership for Education for this new phase of education transformation. We are excited to engage in the Education Data Leadership program (EDLP), an important initiative to enable education systems to gather more accurate education data, analyze it and make use of it in effective decision-making. It will capitalize on the existing investment we are making in countries supported by GPE.”

Alice Albright, CEO of GPE, said: “Microsoft is one of our highly valued allies in the drive to address partner countries’ needs for strong, clear and actionable education data. Colleagues from Microsoft contributed their expertise to the Education Data Solutions Roundtable, including in developing guidelines for strengthening education management information systems. Now this business partner is similarly providing in-kind its technical know-how to the new Education Data Leadership Program, which will boost the data skills/capabilities of education ministries. Those skills can be game-changing, and we’re delighted to have this strong working partnership with Microsoft to help advance education system transformation.”

The EDLP aims to support partner countries to strengthen data competency and enhance its education data management systems. Collaborating with business and country partners, the EDLP will provide a Data Bootcamp to the Ministry of Education data teams – professional development sessions that will elevate skills and produce data leaders. The bootcamps aim to develop a generation of high-performing education data scientists in GPE partner countries. For the EDLP, the initial key countries identified are Kenya, Uganda, Tajikistan, Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Microsoft is already supporting GPE beneficiary countries by providing Microsoft Office 365 A1 for Education at no cost to education systems.  The EDLP will enable Ministries of Education to leverage data available to them in Office 365 to gain insight into teaching, learning and administration taking place in schools using the platform.

Microsoft will also bring together training and support based around the company’s platform for digital skills training, Microsoft Learn, as well as Open Edu Analytics, a fully open-sourced data integration and analytics architecture and reference implementation for the education sector.