PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT: Microsoft Investment to improve connectivity in education – Microsoft’s Skype Communications Team installs Wi-Fi in 36 schools

Microsoft Malta, together with the Ministry for Education, today launched a newly-implemented project that saw the installation of Wi-Fi connectivity in 36 schools in Malta and Gozo. Initially, this investment was earmarked to cover public schools but arrangements were then made to extend this investment to Church and private schools.

The project was carried out by Microsoft’s internal Skype Communications Team who travelled to Malta over the past months purposely to work on all the necessary upgrades of the current infrastructure of classrooms in the 36 schools.

Microsoft’s investment provided 240 access points, supports network equipment such as routers and switches and the installation of all the equipment. Additionally, Microsoft will now provide additional software, monitoring, maintenance and support for the installed hardware for three years, following which, the management of the hardware will be handed over to the Ministry.

Addressing the media during an event at St Catherine’s School in Pembroke to launch this project, Country Manager at Microsoft Malta Panayiotis Ioannou said: “From an economic perspective, connectivity means productivity. Productivity, collaboration and education tools go hand in hand with better access to the internet, in order to achieve the full benefits that cloud computing can bring to schools and organizations.”

“This is why Microsoft is investing in innovative technologies to make connectivity more affordable and to optimize access to cloud computing solutions. Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Connectivity should be present in the lives of four billion people.”

“We are truly proud that once again, we have had another opportunity to collaborate with the Government of Malta in its vision to keep empowering the local educational sector. Through this connectivity project, Microsoft contributes in improving students’ digital skills in Malta. Those students represent the new generation that will lead the new digital era,” added Panayiotis Ioannou.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo thanked Microsoft for seeing this latest project through and commended the company’s constant commitment to Malta, especially to the education sector.

“Success is built on partnering with companies such as Microsoft that can lend their experience and know-how in turning opportunities into tangible and fruitful projects. We need to build more of these partnerships on which to base the investment we are putting into education. Most of today’s students are preparing themselves for jobs that perhaps do not yet exist, however, it is only through the best in technology that we can equip our students and make them employable,” said Minister Bartolo.

Head of St Catherine’s High School Sue Midolo explained that over the past five years, the school has been working to integrate digital learning into the competence-based curricular system that it has adopted for the primary level.

“The school also invested in IT devices and interactive whiteboards to assist students in their interactive digital learning and eTwinning projects with other European schools. The school also published an interactive book in collaboration with a school in Cyprus and our Digital Literacy teacher was also chosen to be a national Digital Ambassador, representing Malta and our school at various workshops and conferences”.

“It is, thus, in line with the school’s existing digital practices in education that the school decided to accept the invitation of Microsoft and make use of the free deployment of Wi-Fi access points for our Junior 4 classes in preparation for the distribution of the free tablets for the Junior 4 students this year. The school believes that this will be yet another step in the right direction: the aim being the setting up of good innovative and engaging learning journeys for our students via the acquisition of digital key competencies”, added Sue Midolo.

Connectivity remains an issue not only to developing countries but even to Europe. Since 2008, the European Investment Bank (EIB) lent $22 billion to finance connectivity projects. The EIB’s current exposure in telecoms is of more than $17 billion, making it one of the world’s largest lenders. Europe however, needs to spend $74 billion a year just to catch up with the US in broadband, data centre capacity and cyber security.

Source: Government of Malta.