I was fairly shocked when I was made aware of this press release from the Department of Education. Twenty graduates of technology or teacher training college courses are to get work placement positions in Microsoft Ireland to help develop digital material for the school curriculum as part of a deal signed by the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD.
The 20 graduates, who will be based in Microsoft Ireland headquarters in Dublin, will develop digital content to support the curriculum in primary and post-primary schools through the NCTE.
Now, on the face of it, this seems like a very noble gesture by both the DES and Microsoft. However, without needing to scratch the surface very much, this little arrangement must not be doing Microsoft’s pockets any harm. I’ve nothing against Microsoft but I think using the ineptitude of our government for their personal gain isn’t very fair on smaller companies, especially those already involved in educational content.
There are a number of very small companies in Ireland making a living from selling educational software. Some of these are: Rainbow Education, Learning Horizons, Edware and Flúirse. Why weren’t these companies with excellent reputations and fantastic work ethics given the opportunity to have graduates funded to work for them?
Worse yet, this isn’t the last of this newMicrosoft-DES love in. According to the press release, the graduate training places are among a number of key elements in the ‘education alliance’ agreed between Microsoft Ireland and the Department of Education and Science.
So for all those who haven’t seen it coming, what’s the catch?
The education alliance agreement will bring extra benefits to schools using Microsoft products under a yearly licensing agreement. Let’s repeat that… “under a yearly licencing agreement”.
I foresee profits.