Programme brings together Microsoft Singapore and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to collectively develop computational thinking skillsets for up to 500,000 students in three years
SINGAPORE – 1 July 2015 – Microsoft today launched Code for Change, a three-year nationwide initiative aimed at boosting next-generation talent development to support Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. Through Code for Change, Microsoft will be partnering the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to collectively lay the talent foundation to ensure our nation’s long-term competitiveness in the 21st century.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-Charge of Singapore’s Smart Nation Programme Office, launched the programme today at the NTUC Auditorium at One Marina Boulevard earlier today. Over 2,000 students and educators from pre-primary to universities participated in the launch event, with satellite launch locations also hosted by Institute of Technical Education, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.
Supported by IDA, Microsoft will spearhead specific programmes under the Code for Change programme to help young talents nationwide develop computational thinking skills. Defined as the ability to dissect problems and formulate solutions in a way that computers can understand and evaluate, computational thinking is an increasingly important skillset in a technology-permeated landscape. The programme has the bold ambition to reach 1.2 million individuals in Singapore. Of these, 500,000 youths will have access to a deeper experience through on-campus and off-campus curricula, events and competitions that impart the basics of writing coding instructions for software, applications and websites.
“While coding used to be an area of specialisation for STEM field students, Code for Change seeks to expand its reach to impact students across education levels and academic backgrounds. An interesting finding from our survey revealed that 59 percent of students in Singapore found coding to be relevant to all careers in the future, regardless of the areas of specialisation. Hence looking beyond the needs of today, we see a crucial need to empower our youths with skillsets of the future, so that they can build upon our current accomplishments and help bring our nation to the next level. By collaborating closely with IDA, we can now collectively leverage our strengths and resources to maximise impact nationwide and accelerate the realisation of our Smart Nation vision,” said Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore.
“Singapore is building itself into a Smart Nation. The opportunity now is to create a culture of experimentation in which students are both curious and confident when working with technology. IDA is excited to have industry leaders such as Microsoft support us in developing the young talent who will play a vital role in our Smart Nation journey in the years ahead.” Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA.
Findings from a recent Asia Pacific survey* conducted by Microsoft in February revealed that majority of students in Singapore recognise the value of coding in their education and the potential it creates for their future careers. According to the survey results, 76 percent of students in Singapore want to know more about coding and 72 percent of students say that coding is important to their future careers. Additionally, 59 percent of students also agree that coding will be relevant to all careers in the future, regardless of the areas of specialisation.
With survey results revealing an appreciation among students in Singapore about the impact of technology on their future careers, planned coding programmes under Code for Change will impact students across education levels and academic backgrounds, regardless of their knowledge of coding. This includes Kodu Coding Workshops for lower primary students, Hour of Code Programmes for upper primary and lower secondary students, Touch Development Programmes and Project Spark Workshops for secondary school and junior college students, and Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition for institutes of higher learning.
Students, parents and educators can also access through Microsoft’s YouthSpark, a community-based programme, industry-leading software development, gaming and design tools, as well as learning resources and tutorials. Through a computer with an internet connection, students can easily download the programmes to begin their personal journey in using their newly-learnt coding skills to build and publish games and applications. (Refer to Annex B for full list of programmes and descriptions.)
Besides equipping young talents with skillsets for the future, a secondary aim of Code for Change is to groom up-and-coming talents in technology fields and improve the perception of careers in infocomm media. To achieve this, tertiary students can leverage industry internship opportunities provided by Microsoft and other partner technology companies in Singapore through the Microsoft Student Partners Programme. To expand their IT skillsets, educators, students and staff from institutes of higher learning can also pick up fundamental technology skills for today’s dynamic lT landscape through the Microsoft IT Academy. Additionally, the Microsoft BizSpark Programme provides three years of free software, support and brand visibility to enable startups to scale their businesses quickly, while specialised programmes such as Women in Technology and DigiGirlz are being driven actively to harness diverse talents and encourage young women to take up careers in infocomm media.
In recent years, Microsoft has been actively involved in promoting coding as a language among youths in Singapore to equip them with computational thinking skills essential for the 21st century workforce. The Microsoft Imagine Cup introduced in 2003 provides tertiary students with a platform to collaborate and develop technology applications to bring to market. Over 500 of the brightest young minds in Singapore have since taken part in the Imagine Cup and gained a keen understanding of what it takes to develop technology applications for today’s dynamic world.
Microsoft is also a long-time partner of IDA, having collaborated with the agency and Nanyang Polytechnic to conduct pilot coding courses and create a scalable and structured framework of practical coding courses to nurture interest among young talents. Microsoft is also a partner for the IDA Lab on Wheels, which aims to bring a 40-seater bus housing different activities such as coding a game in an hour, programming a robot, tinkering with a gadget and learning how electronics work, to 80 primary schools and 16,000 students over two years.
* Conducted in February 2015 as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign, the survey polled 1,850 students under 24 years old from across 8 countries in Asia Pacific, including 250 students in Singapore, on their sentiments towards coding or software programming. 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.
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