Microsoft Pakistan and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) have signed an Education Transformation Agreement (ETA) to support the country’s education through digital means.
The agreement was made at a virtual meeting between the Chairman HEC, Dr. Tariq Banuri, and Mark East, the Vice President of Education, Microsoft, Europe, Middle East & Africa. It was also attended by key executives from both sides to help academic institutions leverage new technologies in the learning process.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Pakistan, the HEC has continued to provide remote learning solutions to facilitate the continuity of academic activities at universities. To support this initiative, Microsoft has collaborated with the HEC to bring more than 100 universities and above 500,000 students to a digital hub of the Microsoft Teams to form a nationwide academic ecosystem.
There are multiple programs in this framework for both the students and teaching faculty including the Student Hackathon, focused technology boot camps, the Imagine Cup, and multiple online training sessions for more than 200 institutions across the country.
Dr. Banuri stated,
COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges for educational sector in Pakistan but with the help of Microsoft, we have successfully turned them into opportunity and embarked on the journey to transform education system through digitalization. ETA, with Microsoft, depicts our commitments to gearing towards revolutionizing the learning process with a number of initiatives. These interventions will introduce modern technological tools to enhance faculty to student interaction at all level and provide easy access to knowledge. This cooperation has long way to go till the fulfillment of Digital Pakistan vision.
Through this agreement, the cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure, will be made accessible to students, and aspects related to cybersecurity will also be supported by Microsoft through their cloud-native SIEM.
According to Jibran Jamshad, the Education Lead for Microsoft Pakistan, Microsoft will use its Machine Learning management solutions and innovate on-premise applications using Artificial Intelligence and related technology. He remarked,
We have seen how this new normal has completely changed the way we interact with technology. We are witnessing the rise of remote and blended learning solutions by integrating technology in way we teach and educate.
While discussing the integration of company software with Pakistan’s academic curriculum, Jamshad said,
With Microsoft 365, Azure and our productivity suite including Microsoft Teams, institutions can keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and design classrooms that foster innovation and inspire students to achieve more.
He added that the Microsoft Teams platform also works well with Moodle, a software that universities use as their Learning Management System (LMS).
Microsoft recently introduced new features to the Teams software that allow the teaching faculty to manage online examinations in a secure environment, thus enabling digital transformation according to the defined objectives.
Under the ETA framework, Microsoft helps universities securely connect their campuses. It will also provide consultancy to universities for the adoption of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform with their Finance & Operations and Campus Management systems.
The agreement also aims at promoting state-of-the-art teaching and learning activities, and creating opportunities for academic research while increasing chances of students’ success through the required access to knowledge and the latest tools.