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Microsoft to fund 1,000 Africans to study online

Non-profit online institution the University of the People will team up with Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative to offer 1,000 scholarships to students across Africa. The news follows recent research from eLearning Africa that reflects trends in the eLearning environment and shows HE stakeholders in the continent believe mobile technologies are a dominant “change driver” in Africa.

Sugata Mitra spoke at this year's eLearning Africa conference - he won the TED2013 prize and aims to build a school in the cloud

Graduates will be eligible for employment opportunities within Microsoft and its over 10,000 partners across Africa

Funding from Microsoft, which is investing significantly in the continent, will be provided for students to pursue associate degrees online in computer science or business administration. Funding will also be provided for technical training and mentorship by Microsoft employees from around the world.

“University of the People’s mission is to open the gates to higher education for everyone, believing that higher education is a basic human right,” said president of University of the People, Shai Reshef. “Through the 4Afrika Scholarship programme, Microsoft is helping us extend that possibility in Africa even farther.”

“University of the People’s mission is to open the gates to higher education for everyone”

The scholarships are available to any student over 18 living in an African country with proficient English and a certified academic transcript. UoPeople and Microsoft have confirmed they are actively encouraging women to apply to “help redress gender disparity in higher education in Africa”.

Students will also need reliable internet access for the classes that begin in November 2013. To help address connectivity issues, the company is making working space available in its Microsoft Innovation Centers in Tunisia, Tanzania, Uganda and Botswana for successful applicants near those locations.

While UoPeople is a tuition-free online academic institution, the scholarships will cover the costs it charges for application and examination processing fees.

To further support Africa to become globally competitive, Microsoft says graduates of the programme will be eligible for employment opportunities within the company and its over 10,000 partners across Africa.

“Together with participating education institutions, Microsoft’s goal with the 4Afrika Scholarship program is to level the playing field for talented young African minds who might not otherwise have the resources, enabling them to get the education and skills they need to thrive in technology-related fields,” said Patrick Onwumere, director of youth enablement at Microsoft 4Afrika.

Providing a unique snapshot of ICT developments across the continent, the eLearning Africa Report shows that while social media and mobility are becoming more popular, accessing online resources and supporting classroom learning are the most common uses of technology.

“The report confirms that mobility in learning and teaching is indeed on the rise in education and skills development in Africa but it has not yet eclipsed traditional ways of education delivery,” says Report editor Shafika Isaacs. “Addressing the challenges in education continues to be a critical priority as we deliberate the post-2015 development agenda.”

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