Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Multinational software corporation Microsoft has embarked on a mission to make its technology more accessible to Jamaican students through its information technology (IT) academies.
On Tuesday, the company launched its second-such academy at the HEART Trust Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), located in Gordon Town, St Andrew.
The first academy was opened at the HEART College of Innovation and Technology in Montego Bay, St James.
Speaking at the opening of the academy, Microsoft's country manager, Marcelle Smart, said teachers and students would benefit from the initiative.
"What the IT academy programme does is provide curriculum support to the teachers so that their existing courses can be modified in such a way that they can include practical Microsoft-oriented technologies," Smart said.
She noted that students, on the other hand, would have access to online courses, and their regular courses may be modified to fit into the programme.
Smart said students who complete the programme would be able to take exams that would allow them to receive internationally recognised Microsoft certifications.
benefits of certification
"Microsoft certification is independent of any school-leaving certificate that they would get from HEART Trust or even from a high school or college. If you consider the level of certification students have when they leave high schools, if they could also leave with a Microsoft Certified Professional certificate, it says to the companies that are hiring that the student is ready for the working world," she added.
Smart said Microsoft IT academies could be established at all levels of the education system and more schools should take the opportunity to get involved with this relatively affordable method of incorporating technology in classrooms.
Not willing to divulge how much it would cost to set up a Microsoft academy in a school, Smart said, "It is not expensive. It is something that parent-teachers' associations could do for their respective high schools across the island."
She said the process to set up an academy in a school was relatively easy and would require only a minimal annual fee after its initial set-up.
Meanwhile, director of the VTDI, Delize Williams, said some 200 students at the institution would benefit from the IT academy.
"We will have access to a lot of resources, instructional material, and resources for the students as well. There will also be access to much-needed software and, as you know, the costs attached to some software can be very prohibitive," Williams noted.