Coding, from prison schools to regular schools
By Digital News Asia January 5, 2016
- Hour of Code aims to broaden global participation in computer science
- APAC leg kicks off in Malaysia with 25K participants in 247 locations
MALAYSIA kicked off Microsoft Corp and Code.org’s third-annual ‘Hour of Code’ initiative in Asia Pacific last month with a series of events that even saw juvenile criminals learning how to code.
Hour of Code aims to broaden global participation in computer science, with the theme ‘Code4Good.’ As part of the event, Microsoft Malaysia hosted Hour of Code events across 247 locations across Malaysia.
The partnership with nonprofits and international schools, including outreach to under-represented youth in the country, saw more than 25,000 children and young people participating in the Hour of Code, Microsoft Malaysia said in a statement.
The highlight of the campaign was the Hour of Code event held at the Henry Gurney Prison School (pic above) in Melaka, where over 150 of its students were shown how easy it was to code.
They were taught coding with Minecraft by over 20 Microsoft Student Partners, comprising undergraduates from across Malaysia along with employee volunteers from Microsoft Malaysia who shared their passion and knowledge for technology with the inmates.
For this year’s Hour of Code, Microsoft and Code.org unveiled a specially created Minecraft coding tutorial which introduces students and educators to basic coding within the fun and popular game.
The tutorial – available at https://www.code.org/mc – introduces players to basic computer coding concepts, allowing them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a two-dimensional Minecraft world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code.
“Our inmates rarely get opportunities to be involved in such an engaging programme, more so one that exposes them to 21st century skills that will prepare them for success in the future,” said Yusni Habibullah, deputy superintendent of Henry Gurney Prison School.
“We hope this programme will inspire the participants to fulfill their potential and to make use of the knowledge they gained today when they leave school,” he added.
This successful collaboration is the first of such effort in the long-term partnership Microsoft is looking to undertake with the Prison Department of Malaysia to equip and educate the inmates of prison schools across Malaysia with the knowledge and skills that will be useful for their future careers, the company said.
The Hour of Code campaign this year also saw the participation of children and youths of all ages from schools in the Federal Territory and Selangor, including students and participants from the HELP International School, Tenby International School and Nation Building School.
Separately, national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), in partnership with Microsoft, conducted Hour of Code sessions open to the public and children of Microsoft employees.
Keeping to the theme of Code4Good, the children who attended the Hour of Code sessions donated food and essentials to the victims of the recent floods in Malaysia.
“At Microsoft, we believe every young Malaysian should have the opportunity to learn computer science, giving them the power to create with technology,” said Jasmine Begum, director of Corporate External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets.
“We want to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills and supporting educators in guiding and nurturing student passions,” she added.
In a recent survey that Microsoft conducted, at least four out of every five students find that ‘coding is cool,’ and yet despite this enthusiasm and interest, only half of them (53% of youth in Asia Pacific) feel that they have an opportunity to learn coding in school.
To date, more than 100 million students across 180 countries and 40 languages have participated in the Hour of Code, according to Microsoft.
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