“Most governments make investments in education because they see the long-term economic benefits of improving their education systems.” – James Bernard, USA

As you readers know, our focus at Daily Edventures is to shine a light on the heroes in education who work to innovate and bring change each and every day. While some of these heroes are working on the cutting-edge of technological development for education, others, like Martha Hewison and Samuel Avornyo, are simply working to make education accessible to children in their communities.

Access is a recurring theme here at Daily Edventures, and for good reason. While change is happening quickly in some parts of the world, it comes much more slowly to others. This has created a huge “opportunity divide” between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who don’t.

We firmly believe in the power of technology to help close this gap, but that can only happen when we work with partners, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to help bring digital access to those underserved countries, students and teachers worldwide.

Today, it is my pleasure to share my interview with James Bernard, director of Worldwide Education Programs here at Microsoft. As a key part of his role, Bernard works hand-in-hand with our NGO partners to bring digital access to emerging countries. One such program, the YouthSpark initiative, is a companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world, helping transform education and expand digital inclusion to empower youth to change their world. Most recently, Bernard worked with World Vision in Kenya to help launch the Spark a Child’s Digital Future program, which is a collaborative effort that unites World Vision, the British Council, Microsoft and Intel to link African youth with millions of potential donors.

“Just about every government around the world is looking at a national PC program or a large-scale device deployment or access program,” says Bernard. “And we need to make sure that they’re not just thinking about the devices, but that they are thinking about how those devices land effectively in the education system.” Bernard adds that governments want to invest in education when they see the economic benefits that an educated workforce can bring to their country. He also believes that strategic partnerships with global NGOs are what ensure a successful implementation. “Working together in partnership with the ministries of education, with the donor community, with the NGOs and the private sector, we can create coalitions that can institute change in countries all over the world,” says Bernard.

Here, Bernard shares how his work with emerging markets and NGOs began, his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that he sees globally, and how you can help change a child in Africa’s future by making technology accessible to all. Enjoy.


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