More than 222,000 students and youth in Asia Pacific now speak code. Do you?
— by Clair Deevy, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft Asia Pacific
Imagine a future where young children in Asia Pacific go home after school gushing about the puzzle-solving computer algorithm they wrote in class, or brainstorming at the dinner table about their latest homework project that requires them to design a mobile app for an upcoming carnival on campus.
Sounds far-fetched? Not at all.
At Microsoft, we believe that this future is closer than you may think. Computer code already serves as the digital building blocks of our world today, where smart devices powered by the cloud are changing the way we live, work, and play. And just as a ship requires capable sailors to explore the uncharted seas, the captains of tomorrow will have to be skilled coders if they are to successfully navigate the frontiers of this new economic opportunity.
As a result, educators and students alike are starting to realize that a strong foundational education in this area is key to cultivating a new generation of innovators. This applies not just to science and technology, but to all sectors – from the arts and humanities to business and finance.
In fact, new research conducted by Microsoft has revealed that three out of four of students in Asia Pacific want coding to be a core subject in school. This strongly suggests that coding has the potential to be a highly engaging subject that can capture the attention and imagination of students in school, leading to positive learning outcomes.
Over the past two months, we’ve witnessed this passion and enthusiasm first-hand through the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign, which returned this year for its second season after a successful first run in 2014.
Inspired by Code.org, the YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign aims to promote code as a language for everyone in our Asia Pacific home, and dispel the notion that coding is too difficult, or only for a small group of computer science or engineering geeks.
From colourful India to the sunny Philippines to the pristine beaches of Australia, more than 222,000 students and youth put their collective brains and fingers to work this year, the majority of them whipping out lines of code for the first time in their lives.
Serving as their inspiration are our numerous YouthSpark stars and other personalities featured in the #WeSpeakCode spotlight, all of whom have displayed extraordinary energy and entrepreneurial spirit through their love for code. These amazing coders come from all over Asia, not just the high-tech cities that you’d expect!
Nepal’s Sonam Singh, for example, succeeded in her dream of pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering at the Himalaya College of Engineering despite the difficulty she faced in accessing resources and educational materials.
Still not convinced that coding is not just for geeks? Then the winners of the #WeSpeakCode Photo Contest may just win you over. Regular folks from all walks of life showed us just how passionate they are in sharing their love of code for the others on social media, blowing us away with their creativity.
The bottom-line is, everyone can code. More than 222,000 participants in this year’s #WeSpeakCode campaign can’t be wrong! As they have shown, jumping into code is easy, fun, and the foundation to a better future in today’s digital world.
But our work isn’t done. We’re continuing our push to drive out the misconception that coding is an activity suitable only for computer geeks or science nerds, and to show educators and students all over Asia Pacific what coding can do for them. With your help to spread the word, we may even be able to turn this 222,000 number into 2 million!