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Diplomacy in Action

Case Study: Global Connections and Exchange Program in Azerbaijan


Global Partnership Initiative
June 16, 2009

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 Background Information

Partnership Name: Global Connections and Exchange Program in Azerbaijan
Partnership Type: Resource Sharing
PPP Life Cycle Phase for Learning: Definition/Formation
Bureau or Post: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
State Department Strategic Goal: Investing in People
Major Partners: Intel Corporation, Relief International Schools Online program
Resource Contributions: $50,000 by ECA and hardware from Intel
Dates of Partnership: Launched December 2008
Problem/Challenge Statement: ECA wanted to expand the Global Connections and Exchanges program in Azerbaijan by partnering with an information technology corporation that could provide regional experience and networks as well as hardware.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs had been interested in expanding its Global Connections and Exchanges program for secondary school Internet connectivity and curriculum development to more rural parts of Azerbaijan. By 2008 ECA had already established Internet computer centers in fifty schools among seventeen regions in the country, but the bureau also wanted to increase its programmatic and training presence. ECA works with Relief International’s Schools Online program in different countries, although not in remote Azerbaijan. At the same time, Intel was looking to increase its corporate social responsibility investments in the region. Both institutions already knew and admired one another’s efforts in the country, such as the Intel Teach program, making partnering a natural fit.

In mid-December 2008, the State Department and Intel announced that they were partnering with Relief International to establish Internet training projects for secondary school students and teachers in twenty schools in Azerbaijan, starting in 2009. Building on ECA’s virtual classroom learning program, Global Connections and Exchanges provides students and teachers specialized training on computer applications, web development and the use of the Internet, as well as the opportunity to develop skills needed to participate in collaborative activities with U.S. schools. As part of the new partnership, Intel and Relief International will lend their expertise to a range of collaborative projects. Schools will utilize Intel’s web-based teaching and learning programs and Relief International’s school-based online learning modules to train participants on new curriculum techniques and to encourage interactive linkages between U.S. and Azerbaijani schools. Intel will also provide participating schools Intel Classmate PCs and expertise on Web 2.0 technologies, with the goal of supporting computer literacy and international student networking.

“Intel’s leadership in information and communication technologies, and its commitment to educational development through “Intel Teach” and other signature learning programs, makes it an ideal partner to support key ECA exchange programs focused on teacher and student training,” said a State Department spokesperson. For its part, ECA is contributing $50,000 to the project and taking the lead on oversight. A Memorandum of Agreement has been signed between ECA, Intel, and Relief International. In the MOA, the roles of the partners are clearly outlined, as are the deliverables, which can be easily measured to see if goals have been met. Intel will provide funds or equipment directly to the schools, while ECA will give directly to the implementing partner, Relief International.

Intel has hired a project manager for its CSR portfolio in Azerbaijan, which allows the company to be very involved at every level of the process. The three partners have an active dialogue, with each contributing to the design of the program, though Intel and ECA are the lead points of contact for programmatic issues, as per the MOA. In addition, the government of Azerbaijan has joined the initiative and exploring funding future efforts.

Conclusion

This program was just announced and has a two-year timeframe. Currently the partnership is exclusive to Azerbaijan, but the goal, as stated in the MOA, is to expand to other countries. Any expansion would occur only after a careful evaluation of program impacts and next steps. The evaluation will in part focus on the program’s ability to reach target communities, adequately train teachers and students , and achieve sustainability. If these goals are reached, then the three partners may seek to broaden the partnership to other countries.

Key Take Aways:

  • Finding partners who not only have the right expertise and infrastructure, but who are already aware of each other and have a strong presence in the targeted region facilitates planning and more rapid implementation.
  • A clear MOA creates a stable dynamic, particularly when there are more than two partners, and it lays out clear goals to ease future evaluations.
  • If there is interest, think big with partners by piloting initiatives/projects with an eye towards future expansion.
  • Technology is fertile ground for partnership. Certain programmatic goals like education synchronize easily with business interests of technology companies (e.g. market penetration).



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