PRAGUE, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. today kicked off its annual Partners in Learning Global Forum and reaffirmed its commitment to education with a US$250 million, five-year renewal of Microsoft Partners in Learning, bringing Microsoft's total investment in the program to US$750 million over 15 years. Microsoft aims to grow the Partners in Learning community to 20 million of the 75 million teachers worldwide by 2018 with the renewal and to continue preparing students for the changing global workforce. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) Microsoft plans to expand Partners in Learning beyond the 119 countries that currently participate with a continued emphasis on driving community, developing networks, and allowing educators to share innovations and learn from each other. "So many of us have a great teacher to thank for our achievements," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. "That's why I am so proud that Microsoft Partners in Learning continues to support innovative teachers. We started this program nearly 10 years ago based on the belief that education is a fundamental human right and the single most important investment in our collective future. This has never been more true, and I'm really pleased to see the continuing commitment to innovations that can help all students and teachers reach their full potential." "We see a significant opportunity to invest in the economy of tomorrow by working with educators today to teach 21st century skills," said Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. "Studies have shown the measurable impact that a great teacher has on a student's potential, future earnings and contribution to a global economy. Our focus on PiL is the cornerstone of Microsoft's commitment to empower youth, spark innovation in the classroom and improve learning outcomes globally." Microsoft's commitment to education centers on providing training resources and building community to support the teaching of 21st century skills that prepare today's youth for the competitive global workforce. Research shows a strong connection between education and economic growth, and Partners in Learning is Microsoft's global initiative to partner with educators and governments to advance student success through digital inclusion and innovative teaching practices. Partners in Learning is a key program within Microsoft YouthSpark, a companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. Through the Partners in Learning program, Microsoft has trained more than 11 million teachers and reached more than 200 million students since 2003.