BANGALORE, INDIA (06/04/2008) – Microsoft is planning to spend US$20 million on its education programs in India over the next five years.
The company said Wednesday that it had already spent $20 million since 2003 on its education program for teachers, called Project Shiksha.
The project involved training over 240,000 government school teachers in India on teaching methodologies and the use of technology as a support in education, said Suneet Sethi, program manager in India of Microsoft’s “Partners in Learning” program.
In the next phase, Microsoft plans to train more teachers, with a target of 50,000 teachers to be covered under this program in the first year.
The program in the new phase will also address schools and students. The company will, for example, work with government, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and other partners to provide affordable and reliable software for primary and secondary school students, giving under-served students access to computing platforms for education, it said.
The computer hardware for the program will come from a variety of sources including government programs and corporate donations, Sethi said. The computers will run Microsoft Windows operating systems, and the choice of version of the Windows operating system will depend on the hardware available, he added.
Microsoft is already offering its Windows and Office Suite in Indian languages. The company and its partners plans to localize for this project educational and other relevant software. It is working for example with the governments of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan states to develop educational software in local languages, that is tailored to the states’ school curriculum, Sethi said.
Microsoft’s education programs have been criticized by open-source advocates, as an attempt to build a pool of people trained on its technologies. The Indian government has not indicated so far a preference for either open-source or proprietary technologies, leaving the choice to various government agencies.