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Microsoft Bahrain Earns Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its 'Partners in Learning' program

A long term joint venture with the Ministry of Education to improve learning experiences through ICT and help schools, educators and students build 21st century skills
Microsoft Bahrain won the 'Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award' in the Kingdom of Bahrain 2013; the announcement was made during the opening ceremony of MEET ICT Conference & Exhibition. The award was handed out by H.E. Kamal Bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation to Hamad Al-Saie, Public Sector Manager, Microsoft Bahrain.

The award comes to recognize Microsoft's commitment to the development and empowerment of the educational sector in Bahrain which includes the long-term Partnership in Learning (PiL) agreement with the Ministry of Education.

Congratulating Microsoft on their achievement, Ahmed Alhammadi, Director of Information Systems, Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Education applauded Microsoft's efforts in helping Bahrain in its quest to education reform; he said "we applaud Microsoft's efforts to bring technology into classrooms and empower the teachers and students ICT skills to match the 21st Century requirements." He explained that "the education reform is one of the main pillars of Bahrain Vision 2030 which manifested in the establishment of 'King Hamad School of the Future' project, and through the PiL program, we have witnessed a great success in the adoption of technology inside the classrooms and astounding improvement in skills of both teachers and students throughout the last few years". Alhammadi confirmed that a big number of teachers and students in Bahrain had benefited from the PiL program's different platforms in the last decade.

"We are honored to have earned such a valuable award in Bahrain this year," said Tareq Hijazi, Regional Country Manager for Microsoft in Bahrain and Oman. "This is a very special year for Microsoft 'Partners in Learning' program as we celebrate this unique initiative's 10th anniversary globally and in Bahrain." He explained the importance of such program by saying that "technology in the classroom enables better learning which aims to empowering students to cooperate effectively in the classroom. At Microsoft, we are committed to providing educators and students with access to technology that can support learning innovation and provide students with skills and capacities that enhance the transfer of knowledge."

Hijazi applauded the vision of Bahrain and their continued efforts to education reform stating that the Kingdom was one of the first adopters of the 'Partners in Learning' program in the region and the world; "We are very proud to have seen the way these schools embracing technology innovation in the classrooms. The creative adoption of collaborative technology that allows teachers to transfer knowledge and students to collaborate better fosters a creative learning environment. Microsoft is committed to continuing this synergy to support transforming learning and teaching styles in conjunction with ensuring students meet the requirements of an evolving matrix of workforce, skills requisites and increasing student engagement."

Each year, BTECH awards companies, organizations and individuals who have positively contributed in the development of the ICT industry development, products and services, on a regional and global level. The selection of the winners is carefully handled by a group of international judging panel.

Ubaydli Ubaydli, President, Bahrain Technology Companies Society (BTECH) congratulated Microsoft on the award and praised the role they are playing in the development of the education ecosystem in Bahrain. "Microsoft has always been an influencing factor in the reform process in the Kingdom, especially in the areas of education and social development. This award comes to recognize Microsoft's continued support to Bahrain. We applaud their efforts in supporting the transformation of the Kingdom into a digital society and thank them for their on-going commitment to Bahrain."

"We are honored to have been chosen by such esteemed international jury and we thank BTECH for recognizing our commitment to Bahrain, government and people, and for recommending us with such valuable award" concluded Hijazi. He also congratulated the MEET ICT conference and exhibition's organizers for successfully hosting another session and wished them prosperity for the future.

In month 2004, the Ministry of Education and Microsoft Bahrain signed the first 'Partners in Learning' 5-year agreement that was renewed in 2008 for another 5 years after a thorough review by the MoE on its outcomes and in-depth assessment of its benefits to the educational system and academic society in Bahrain. The partnership between Microsoft and the Bahraini Ministry of Education is based on two key pillars:

"Innovative Schools" which aims to provide schools the resources, training, expertise and technologies education professionals need to better prepare their students for the 21st century.

"Innovative Teachers" which aims to provide educators with the tools and resources to encourage them to effectively integrate ICT in their teaching methods and training.

Throughout the last decade, a number of training workshops specially tailored for Bahrain's educators' community were organized such as: Training of Trainers for Master Teachers (April 2010, April 2011 and February 2013); Building the capacity of educators in Bahrain on using Windows MultiPoint Server technology (November 2012).

The PiL program also provided the teachers, educators and school administrators in Bahrain a number of opportunities to represent Bahrain in regional and international educational gatherings where they got to meet peers from around the world and create communities dedicated to innovative teaching, learning, and professional development. These events allow them to share advice, discover best practices, learn new ways to utilize technology in the classroom and gain unparalleled access to education experts. Such events included: School of the Future World Summit - USA (December 2008); Innovative Schools Regional Workshop Arabia - Dubai, UAE (March 2009); Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum - Oman (September 2009); Transforming Education at the Arabian Education Forum - Tunisia (October 2010); MEA PiL Forum - Morocco (September 2012).

The program also allowed teachers in Bahrain to participate in the "Innovate, Teach, Inspire" project that aims to change the way teachers teach and introduce master teachers to innovative teaching practices and tools in the classroom. After attending the two-day training of trainers, 70 master teachers got the chance to transfer the knowledge to their peers by organizing similar sessions within 35 schools and therefore training over 1,500 teachers that were given the possibility to participate in a competition and submit their projects by using the new set of practices and tools.

'Partners in Learning' program in Bahrain had its effect on the students too as more than 10,000 students benefited, in a direct and indirect way, from the different opportunities one of which being "DigiGirlz" (March 2010 and April 2012), an event that is organized over one-day to give high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops.

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