Microsoft is bringing an additional focus on cyber security to the three-year renewal of its pre-existing agreement with the Ministry of Education to provide the country’s schools with its software and services.
The renewed agreement will provide all state and state-integrated schools with free A3 licences for core Microsoft software such as Microsoft 365, including Teams, OneNote, Forms and other applications, along with Minecraft: Education Edition, and Windows 10 and above.
Additionally, schools that have already adopted cloud security and protection technologies can apply for fully-funded A5 licences, which provide more intensive security management and advanced compliance on all school-owned devices, with additional analytics tools – the latter through Power BI.
In terms of cyber security coverage, the A5 licences include Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, with the cloud-based solution expected to help school networks prevent, detect, investigate and respond to advanced threats.
“This agreement paves the way for every state and state-integrated school in the country to enjoy world-class, enterprise-level security on every device,” said Emma Barrett, public sector director at Microsoft New Zealand.
“As more schools and kura across Aotearoa embrace secure cloud platforms and new technologies such as cloud telephony over the next few years, that’s going to give educators even more confidence to innovate in the digital space. That’s great news for teachers, for students, and for the future of New Zealand,” she added.
The renewed Microsoft schools agreement takes effect from 1 January next year and will run until 31 December 2024. However, the Defender for Endpoint security features have been made available to eligible schools with immediate effect.
At the same time, Microsoft said it was also working with the Ministry of Education to provide free security training and certifications to its technology partners in a bid to help schools roll out enhanced cybersecurity faster.
Dedicated online sessions are planned to update school IT administrators and leaders, as well as sessions for school IT service providers and integrators. Local IT service providers have been invited to attend the first free webinar, set for 1 October.
“Throughout our long relationship with the Ministry of Education, we’ve worked together to identify the issues that matter most to schools and teachers and provide the tools they need to deliver the best educational outcomes,” Lydia Kronawetter, Microsoft New Zealand education industry executive, said in a statement published on 29 September.
“With today’s online and blended learning models, security is a top priority. It’s vital to ensure not only that digital education is useful and engaging, but that schools’ data is protected and teaching continues to happen in a safe and secure environment,” she added.
It was announced in late 2018 that the Ministry of Education had renewed its Microsoft software agreement providing schools with free access to Office 365 and other learning and collaboration tools, extending the arrangement up to the end of this year.