SINGAPORE, March 23, 2015 – Microsoft today released the results from a new Asia Pacific study which revealed that the majority of students in the region recognize the value of coding in their education and the potential it creates for their future careers. However, the study also found that students feel relatively unsupported in their interest for coding, signaling an urgent need for educators to look deeper at integrating it as a core subject in the school curriculum.
Conducted in February 2015 in line with the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign, the survey polled 1,850 students under 24 years old from across 8 countries in Asia Pacific on their sentiments towards coding or software programming. They were also asked about the learning opportunities for coding that are currently available to them. The student respondents came from a variety of academic backgrounds, including arts & humanities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), business, and other general fields of study.
According to the survey, 85 percent of students in Asia Pacific want to know more about coding, and three out of four students (75 percent) wish that coding could be offered as a core subject in their schools. This suggests that coding has the potential to be a highly engaging subject that can capture the attention and imagination of students, leading to positive learning outcomes.
The study also underscores the broad understanding amongst students in Asia Pacific about the impact of technology on businesses and the society – 77 percent of students say that coding is important to their future careers, and 74 percent agree that coding will be relevant to all careers in the future, regardless of areas of specialization.
“The results from the Microsoft survey clearly show that the majority of students in Asia Pacific no longer question the value of coding. These youth fully recognize its importance in helping them acquire fundamental 21st century skills and prepare them for success in the future,” said César Cernuda, President, Microsoft Asia Pacific. “As our world continues its evolution into one that is mobile-first and cloud-first, it is important for educators in the region to stop asking whether or not to offer coding as a subject – but how it can be integrated into the curriculum as soon as possible.
Other noteworthy results from the study include:
- On the benefits of coding, 63 percent said coding helps them better understand the digital world that we live in today, and 41 percent said coding can make it easier to find a job in the future;
- Although commonly regarded as a male-dominated field, the survey nevertheless shows that a high proportion of both boys (80 percent) and girls (75 percent) in Asia Pacific think of coding as important to their future careers.
- Reinforcing the finding that students in the region are fully aware of the growing importance of an education in technology, as much as 83 percent of students who specialize in the arts and humanities – an area that is conventionally far removed from science and technology – wants to learn more about coding.
However, despite the widespread enthusiasm and interest in coding, only 53 percent of students in the region said they have an opportunity to learn coding in school, whether as a core subject or an extracurricular activity. Furthermore, only 54 percent of students say their parents think coding is important to their future.
This indicates a severe disconnect between the students’ interests and the support that they are receiving from schools and at home. There is a need for educators and parents in the region to quickly reflect on how they can better support the younger generation in taking their first coding steps, especially when 74 percent said they would be willing to take up coding classes outside of regular school hours. In fact, 44 percent of students have already looked beyond the classroom and picked up coding on their own through online tutorials.
On a more positive note, a few countries in Asia Pacific are seeing increased momentum in the uptake of coding – the majority of students in the Philippines (72 percent), Thailand (70 percent), and Vietnam (66 percent) report that they currently have an opportunity to learn coding in school. This is an encouraging trend that other countries in the region should aspire to emulate.
To help educators tap into growing student interest in coding, the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign is back for its second year in Asia Pacific. Kicking off today, this year’s movement promises to be more exciting than ever, with local events in more than thirteen countries throughout the region. Aimed at inspiring youth in Asia Pacific to try their hand at coding and become creators, the campaign will connect aspiring student coders of all skill levels with the tools, resources, and experiences they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality – whether they only have an hour, a whole semester, or an entire year’s worth of time to invest.
In addition to the resources available on the official #WeSpeakCode website, Microsoft is also inviting everyone in Asia Pacific to help make a big splash on 25 March through participating in the YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode Thunderclap social media event. Supporters of the Thunderclap will be able to lend their voice in promoting the case for coding and create a rolling thunder of support focused on the importance of learning to code.
Trina Liang-Lin, President, Singapore Committee for UN Women, also expressed her support for the #WeSpeakCode campaign and said, “More girls and women in Asia Pacific are increasingly receptive to STEM as an education and career path, putting them in a great position to acquire the skills that future jobs will demand, including jobs that may not even have been created yet. Microsoft’s effort to accelerate this progress and mentor girls in the technology space by supporting Girls2Pioneers and through the YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign is enormously significant to our commitment to celebrate and encourage what women can achieve with the right opportunities.”
Mr. Cernuda added, “At Microsoft, we believe that code is a language that anyone can learn and computational thinking is an essential foundational skill that should be taught in all schools – regardless of age, gender, or your current field of study. Writing code and creating a program of your own is not complicated or difficult, and more importantly, it’s fun! More than 82 million people of all ages around the world already tried coding last year through the global Hour of Code event. Through the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign, we’re bringing the movement here to Asia Pacific and empowering youth here to innovate, create, and unlock the best opportunities for their future.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
About Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode
In partnership with Code.org, Microsoft Asia Pacific’s #WeSpeakCode campaign aims to promote coding as a language for everyone in the region. The movement connects aspiring student coders of all skill levels with the tools, resources, and experiences they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality. Visit www.wespeakcode.net to find out more.
For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft Asia Pacific, please visit the Microsoft Asia Pacific News Center at https://news.microsoft.com/apac/.