Microsoft Country Manager Mr. Sherif Tawfik and H.E. Mr. Amin El Sharkawi.

UNDP and Microsoft collaborate for youth empowerment in education

Manama, Bahrain

Marking the first national collaboration of its kind, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UNDP and Microsoft in Bahrain was signed in a small signing ceremony, held in UN House. It was signed by UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, HE Amin El Sharkawi and Microsoft Country Manager for Bahrain and Oman, Mr Sherif Tawfik.

The UNDP has been actively supporting the wider UN Country Team, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, to develop programmes and initiatives in line with the Bahrain Government Action Plan 2015-18 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a result, the UNDP in Bahrain has been working to further the Government strategic priority area of human development by partnering with Microsoft Bahrain in the development of a youth innovation and empowerment initiative in education.

Accordingly, the UNDP and Microsoft have partnered to develop and introduce a computing curriculum to secondary students that also examines digital empowerment and online safety. The curriculum will include elements of coding, algorithms and processes and enable students to develop applications and software solutions. By fostering a creative environment for computer science training, computational thinking and programming, the partners aim to enhance Bahraini students’ opportunities in education and the marketplace by helping diversify the economy further.

‘The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without private sector support and their proactive contribution,’ commented HE Amin El Sharkawi, UN Resident Coordinator.  ‘I am very pleased to witness this critical partnership, which combines the knowledge of two leading international organisations that recognize the importance of a holistic approach to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.’

“Education and public safety are top priorities, but so is economic growth.” said Sherif Tawfik, Country General Manager, Microsoft Bahrain and Oman. “With rising numbers of youth and unemployment across the Arab world in the coming years, this programme with the technical skills introduced has been designed to provide children and young adults with increased resilience, knowledge and power to become the digital creators of tomorrow. We care deeply about inspiring and empowering people - and this aligns directly in our partnership with UNDP, allowing our efforts to drive economic growth, cultivate new multigenerational talent and capabilities for youth to achieve more in a rapidly changing marketplace”

This was reiterated by the UN Resident Coordinator who added that advances in technology continue to develop at a rapid pace hence requiring an alignment between educational programmes in IT and computer science with current and future market needs. ‘Youth capabilities must be enriched in order to take advantage of the expanding opportunities potentially available to them, allowing them more freedom to shape their futures and contribute to national development,’ said El Sharkawi.

Targeting Bahrain’s secondary school-age youth, the partners aim to begin programme implementation by the end of the year. In addition to a computing curriculum, the partners will host a series of awareness-building workshops for students, addressing a wide range of issues, ranging from digital security, cyber-bullying and technology addiction to the impact of women in the technology industry.

The UNDP is the UN global development network, working in 177 countries and territories. In the Kingdom of Bahrain, UNDP provides technical support and assistance to national institutions and civil society towards achieving national priorities and addressing local challenges. UNDP assistance includes the building of systems and capacities within the public sector and the parliament, support of social strategies, the promotion of women’s advancement, energy sufficiency and environmental sustainability. UNDP is continuing its work to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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