Five Microsoft Initiatives Improving Education in India
With 372,601 people under the age of 14, India’s school-age population demonstrates a massive market for scholastic innovations. The country has been working to build the level of technology-infused education throughout the eight years of compulsory education. Only 3.8 percent of India’s GDP is currently being used for education, so outside companies also work to contribute to the educational system.

Microsoft initiatives have influenced STEM education throughout the country. Microsoft has partnered with many schools and government programs to improve education in India. Five Microsoft initiatives improving education in India include Project Shiksha, Project Shaskam, Showcase Schools, Microsoft Academia Accelerator and Microsoft Innovative Educator.

Project Shiksha

Project Shiksha was founded in 2003 to target classrooms lacking technology to aid education. Teachers participate in a six-day intensive program to build computer skills for classrooms and administrative duties. Incorporating technology into Indian classrooms helps to build a more effective learning environment and engage a wider range of students.

As of 2018, Project Shiksha has impacted more than 430,000 students in India. The program has trained 9,246 teachers throughout the country to better incorporate technology into the daily curriculum. Additionally, in the Karnataka region, Project Shiksha has impacted eight districts, 992 schools, 5658 teachers and 3,13,748 students since the project began. In that region alone, the program has instilled three different IT centers to improve computer education and technology literacy.

Project Shaskam

Project Shaskam helps fund professional development classes to train faculty in technological skills for the classroom. The program helps educators to digitize classrooms and bring more technology-based learning lessons to students. This can drastically improve the level of education in India. Less than one in five teachers in India are qualified to teach, as demonstrated through the dwindling numbers of teachers passing evaluation tests in Maharashtra. In 2015, only one percent of teachers tested passed the end of year evaluation tests. Project Shaskam ensures teachers in public education sectors are sufficiently trained to educate students in India.

Since 2011, Project Shaskam has trained more than 4,228 teachers in more than 148 Indian universities. The educators that participated in the program have since trained 1,126 other teachers in these skills. Teachers are trained to use multiple Microsoft programs, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook, Sway and other programs. The institutes involved in Project Shaskam include SRM University, Geetanjali Girls College, NIMS University, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Jai Narain Vyas University and Integral University. As of 2018, the program impacted 931 teachers at 25 universities.

Showcase Schools

Showcase Schools focuses on building and maintaining leadership skills throughout globally recognized schools to enable educators to create a more effective learning environment in Indian classrooms. The program emphasizes one to one learning techniques. This helps teachers build more personal relationships with students in the classroom and push students to be more successful. Showcase School leaders work together to create a collaborative space to explore teaching ideas and methods to heighten the usage of technology in Indian schools.

More than 126 schools are currently working under the Showcase Schools initiative to impact more than 4,000 students. The Microsoft Showcase School Leaders Forum, hosted in 2016 through a partnership with The Aga Khan Academy, featured multiple Showcase School leaders who shared new ideas for innovative education platforms using technology. One example of the program’s impact on education in India is the two-day INFINITUS Fest held at Delhi Public School in Ghaziabad. The event, in collaboration with Microsoft India, also impacted 17 other schools.

Microsoft Academia Accelerator

The Academia Accelerator program began in 2014 to create a long-lasting relationship between Microsoft and programs benefitting education in India. The program helps facilitate developments in Indian schools and universities to ensure the programs continue to modernize. Furthermore, Academia Accelerator works to improve student understanding of newer technology and ensures that computer-based skills are retained throughout classes.

Academia Accelerator has partnered with 18 different schools throughout India to improve education systems. Microsoft sponsors Code.Fun.Co, an annual event featuring a 20-hour hackathon for the students at partnered universities. This event allows students to address real-world issues through technology and coding programs. The program also hosts AXLE, a Microsoft Academia Accelerator showcase in India, to discuss the impact of AI and technology in learning. This showcase includes keynote speakers, the Code.Fun.Co competition and innovative new technology designs. These activities help inspire students to dive further into STEM education in India and tackle large-scale issues in the community.

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Of the five Microsoft initiatives improving education in India, Microsoft Innovative Educator program seeks out educators who are going above and beyond using technology to reach students in new and exciting ways. The program works as an advocate for technology-infused schools, bringing in outside sources to merge the traditional educational system with more modern technology to strengthen the level of material in schools.

Innovative Educator reached 443 teachers in 2018 to create an educational group that encourages technology use in Indian classrooms. At the 2019 Education Exchange (E2) conference in Paris, India’s representative group was the largest to date with 10 Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts, six school leaders and three MIE Fellows. Six of the Indian educators and fellows also participated on winning teams at the conference, showing their unique approaches to adding technology into the classroom.

Five Microsoft initiatives improving education in India are Project Shiksha, Project Shaskam, Showcase Schools, Microsoft Academia Accelerator and Microsoft Innovative Educator. These programs reinforce technology-based education and improve the level of materials in classrooms throughout the country.

– Kristen Bastin
Photo: Flickr