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August 17, 2004
2 Min Read
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Software giant Microsoft and the Philippine government launched a project Tuesday to help thousands of Filipino overseas workers and their families acquire computer skills to be able to keep in touch through the Internet.
The project, called "Tulay," or "Bridge," is Microsoft's response to the "two pains" faced by millions of Filipinos working abroad--racial and cultural discrimination at their workplaces and the disintegration of their families, said Antonio Javier, managing director of Microsoft Philippines.
"The idea behind this is to be able to train our (overseas Filipino workers) ... and the objective of which is to be able to give them skills so that when they go to their place of work, they have value-added skills," he said.
Sanjay Mirchandani, president of Microsoft Asia-Pacific, said the project is part of Microsoft's worldwide "unlimited potential" program that aims to provide "underserved communities" access to technology in about 50 countries.
Initially, 3,000 Filipino workers in Singapore and Malaysia and their family members back home will be trained on using Microsoft's word processing and spreadsheet software, and sending and receiving E-mail and browsing the Internet.
The company said it has provided $71,400 in cash and $53,700 in software and training for the first year of the project.
The government will provide a training venue as well as computer centers for Internet and E-mail users in the Philippines and at its embassies in Singapore and Malaysia, where workers and their relatives can chat or conduct videoconferences.
Labor Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas said the project will result in "closer family ties, a better informed worker, and thus less vulnerable worker, and a highly competitive Filipino work force that is attuned to modern technology."
There are about 8 million Filipino workers abroad who send home an average $8 billion in remittances every year, providing crucial economic support for the poor Southeast Asian country.
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