Microsoft’s celebrity-fuelled ‘Code for Malaysia’ kicks off

  • Week-long coding campaign to prepare youth for 21st-century global workforce
  • Youth unemployment rate in Malaysia about 11%, 8x adult unemployment rate
Microsoft’s celebrity-fuelled ‘Code for Malaysia’ kicks off

MICROSOFT Corp announced it is bringing the ‘Hour of Code’ campaign – spearheaded by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Shakira – to Malaysia and other parts of Asia during the Asia Pacific Week of Code from April 21-27.
 
Dubbed Code for Malaysia, the local campaign which runs from April 19-27 will see Malaysian celebrities such as actress Sazlini Shamsul Falak, national youth icon Michael Teoh, EPIC Homes founder John-Son Oei and former Miss Malaysia (both Universe and World) Deborah Henry collaborate with Microsoft and three higher learning institutions.
 
The week-long nationwide campaign will introduce coding to students of all ages, ranging from primary to university students, Microsoft Malaysia said in a statement.
 
Microsoft said the campaign was inspired by Code.org, is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to expanding participation in Computer Science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and less fortunate students.
 
Microsoft’s celebrity-fuelled ‘Code for Malaysia’ kicks offMicrosoft is a founding partner of Code.org and supported the organisation’s Computer Science Education Week and ‘Hour of Code’ movement in the United States last year.
 
“By 2020, there will be 1.2 million computer science jobs available worldwide with only 400,000 students learning to code,” said Microsoft Malaysia managing director Carlos Lacerda (pic).
 
“There is a great opportunity to be filled against a backdrop of a highly competitive workplace. It is therefore imperative that young people understand computer science and basic programming as those skills are the foundation for many jobs today as well as the future,” he said.
 
Echoing Lacerda’s sentiments, youth icon Teoh said that while coding was important, it was equally essential to make it accessible to children and youth of all ages.
 
“People generally think of coding as some sort of foreign high-tech language which can only be understood by nerds and geeks. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
 
“Not only is coding available to all, it is also surprisingly fun! This is essentially what the Hour of Code is – making coding relatable and enjoyable for young people,” Teoh said in the statement issued by Microsoft Malaysia.
 
“Coding should be fun and easily understood, and thanks to Microsoft and Code.org, it actually is,” said beauty queen Henry.
 
“Through ‘Code for Malaysia,’ there are tonnes of tutorials, lessons and mentoring programmes that anyone can take advantage of to learn the fundamentals of coding, and the best part of all this is, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand code.
 
“If I can do it, anyone can,” said Henry, who was also on the Forbes’ list of top Asian philanthropists in 2013 for her work in helping Somalian refugees in Malaysia.
 
Code.org's ‘Hour of Code’ aims to introduce computer programming to 10 million students and encourage them to learn programming. It is a one-hour basic introduction to Computer Science, designed to demystify ‘code’ and prove that anyone can learn the fundamentals of computer programming, Microsoft Malaysia said.
 
The Asia Pacific Week of Code extends the ‘Hour of Code’ by dedicating an entire week across the region to encourage people, particularly young people, to hold basic coding training or hackathons in schools, community centres or universities.
 
“The Week of Code will be a great and fun week when people can either celebrate their coding skills or take their first step towards learning to code by doing one of the interactive coding courses provided by Microsoft and Code.org,” said Cesar Cernuda, president of Microsoft Asia Pacific.
 
The campaign, with the catch phrase ‘We Speak Code,’ aims to give millions of people from all over the region a taste of what coding is, demonstrate how accessible learning coding can be, and create interest in expanded programming and computer science courses and activities in schools.
 
In the lead-up to the week, young people are encouraged to share their coding stories, images, thoughts and events via social media such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WeSpeakCode), Twitter, Instagram and tumb.lr using the #wespeakcode hashtag.
 
Microsoft will be providing coding kits to the first 50 events registered on the campaign website www.wespeakcode.net .

Equipping future generation
 
According to the Global Employment Trends 2014 report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), youth unemployment remains a major challenge in Malaysia and other countries in South-East Asia, Microsoft Malaysia said.
 
In 2013, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Malaysia was slightly above 11%, which was almost four times that of the total unemployment rate, and even more alarming, nearly eight times that of the adult unemployment rate.
 
Comparing Malaysia’s figures to that of the region, Malaysia’s youth-to-adult unemployment ratio in 2013 was almost 8:1, whereas the region’s average was approximately 5:1.
 
The report finds that given the young demographic profile of many of the countries in the region, equipping youth with education and skills to obtain productive jobs is likely to remain key policy concerns for many governments.
 
“By focusing on one simple, achievable campaign – Code for Malaysia – and tying it to the younger generation’s innate love of gadgets and apps, we hope to channel the energy of youth into a loud demand for more resources, education and skills training in coding, which we hope will empower these young people with the 21st century skills they need to face a very competitive global workforce,” said Lacerda.
 
Microsoft’s celebrity-fuelled ‘Code for Malaysia’ kicks offA report by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) released last year found that the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 12.8% by 2018. As the technology sector continues to drive economic growth in Asia, youth with ICT skills will find themselves better qualified for new employment and entrepreneurial activities.
 
“The Government is committed to supporting training programmes that grant youth the necessary skills required to face the challenges of a competitive global workforce,” said Khairy Jamaluddin (pic), Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia.
 
“This role is not exclusively the Government’s but also a shared responsibility with the private sector and other key stakeholders.
 
“We are glad that Microsoft has taken the initiative to produce Code for Malaysia as it supports the Government’s push towards an innovation economy,” he added.
 
Beginning April 19, Microsoft Malaysia will be hosting a range of activities and events across the nation in collaboration with local partners to celebrate Code for Malaysia.
 
Students are invited to participate in the educational institutions listed below and to take advantage of tutorials, lessons and mentoring programmes which will be provided during this period.
 
Interested students are encouraged to register at http://aka.ms/codeformalaysia. Code for Malaysia kicks off promptly at 9am for all locations below:

Microsoft’s celebrity-fuelled ‘Code for Malaysia’ kicks off

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