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UNESCO and Microsoft Sign Accord

United Nations News Service
November 17, 2004

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, today joined the coalition of major private sector partners supporting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) global strategy to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to boost education, social and economic development.

"We are excited by and welcome this new relationship," UNESCO Director-General Koí¯chiro Matsuura said at the signing ceremony at the agency's Paris headquarters with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at his side. "It provides an opportunity for UNESCO to put into practice the international strategic partnership advocated by the United Nations to bridge the digital divide."

The agreement defines eight areas in which UNESCO and Microsoft will work together, exchanging experiences, know-how and developing projects.

These are: education and learning; community access and development; cultural and linguistic diversity and preservation; digital inclusion and capacity; promotion of best practices on the use of ICT for socio-economic development; fostering web-based communities; facilitating exchange of information and of software applications; and sharing expertise and strategies.

"We have a greater chance of accelerating social and economic development if we work collectively than if each organization works in isolation," Mr. Matsuura stressed. "We know we live in a world where poverty, conflict and exclusion destroy hope for far too many people.

"The effective use of information and communication technologies can play a major role in building human capacities for sustainable livelihoods, including supporting education and learning," he added.

Mr. Gates emphasized the shared goal of enabling people around the world to realize the full potential of technology. "Technology is a crucial resource in today's world, but remains beyond the reach of millions of people," he added. "We hope to play a part in changing that."

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