Microsoft bolsters Africa education programs

Free versions of Windows are now within the reach of educational institutions throughout Africa after the launch of a Microsoft Corp. initiative to donate licensed copies of Windows 98 and Window 2000.

The initiative, launched Monday and dubbed Fresh Start for Donated Computers, is part of the company’s Partners in Learning Programme, which provides technology and training for educational institutions, according to Microsoft West, East and Central Africa (WECA) Education Programmes manager Reza Bardien.

“Our fundamental goal is to ensure that the latest technology is made available to students and teachers. Through the Fresh Start for Donated Computers initiative, we’ll be helping schools to reinstall Windows on computers that we donate at no charge,” Bardien said.

“The program will be implemented in conjunction with the Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers (MAR) program,” Bardien explained. “Through the MAR program, Microsoft works with computer refurbishers to provide a cost-effective way to reinstall the Windows operating system on donated pre-used computers destined for education institutions and noncharitable organizations.”

Through the MAR program, donors’ computers are picked up for free. Microsoft then gives them to refurbishers for an overhaul before donating them to schools.

The initiative will also support the E-School Programme, which operates under the aegis of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The objective of the NEPAD E-School Programme, which is run by participating governments in conjunction with public and private schools, is to ensure that every African youth leaving school has the information and communication technology skills necessary to compete in the digital age.