Microsoft and partners underline importance of human trafficking issues

 |   Pornravee Suramool

Creative activity held to foster understanding among youths

Microsoft, led by Somsak Mukdavannakorn, Public Sector Director, Microsoft (Thailand) Limited, recently provided youth computer literacy training under the company’s “Microsoft YouthSpark – Computer Science and ICT Education to Empower At-Risk Trafficking Youths” program in a joint effort with UN-ACT, World Vision Thailand, IOM X, and the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NYCD) at Pradit Thorakan community, Bang Khen district.
Microsoft, led by Somsak Mukdavannakorn, Public Sector Director, Microsoft (Thailand) Limited, recently provided youth computer literacy training under the company’s “Microsoft YouthSpark – Computer Science and ICT Education to Empower At-Risk Trafficking Youths” program in a joint effort with UN-ACT, World Vision Thailand, IOM X, and the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD) at Pradit Thorakan community, Bang Khen district.

Bangkok 28 March 2016 – In Thailand, human trafficking is an issue we cannot afford to overlook. In 2015, the country designated as a Tier 3 nation, which is the lowest level in the world, in the United States’ annual report on Trafficking in Persons – dropping down from Tier 2 classification in 2011-2014. Last year alone, the Thai judicial system handled 317 domestic human trafficking cases involving 720 victims[1], spanning crimes such as child labor, prostitution, and forced labor and beggary.

To address this important issue, Microsoft initiated the “Microsoft YouthSpark – Computer Science and ICT Education to Empower At-Risk Trafficking Youths” program in a joint effort with the United Nations Action for Cooperation Against Trafficking in Persons (UN-ACT), World Vision, International Organization for Migration (IOM X), and the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD). The program provided children with training sessions on computer literacy, providing them with access to valuable tools and knowledge as well as opportunities to create sharable content that raises public awareness of the human trafficking problem, builds in-depth understanding in the issue, and enables participants to better protect themselves and their communities.

Somsak Mukdavannakorn, Public Sector Director, Microsoft (Thailand) Limited, said, “With various criminal groups operating in large networks, human trafficking is a highly alarming threat that is close at hand. Microsoft stands ready to support all efforts against human trafficking in Thailand with the power of technology. Our YouthSpark activities allow at-risk youths to access useful information while also putting to work their creativity, analytical thinking, and problem solving skills. Ultimately, we hope that these opportunities will allow them to discover the potential within themselves, which in turn will open up new career opportunities that enable them to contribute to society.”

Participating youths received training in media creation – including posters, videos, and websites – for the purpose of raising human trafficking awareness with tools such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Sway. Once completed, each piece of work was shared on social media or across their own communities. The training session also encompassed information on human trafficking risks and dangerous situations that could pose such a threat, giving them adequate understanding to make the right decisions in the circumstances. Furthermore, a coding lesson inspired by Minecraft gave the young learners a chance to develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills – all of which are key requirements in their future careers.

“Engaging with youth and the private sectors are important priorities for UN-ACT. Youth are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. UN-ACT is pleased to support the YouthSpark Project, which equips young people with essential computer skills that will enhance their professional opportunities and reduce their risk of exploitation,” said Kaori Kawarabayashi, Regional Project Manager, UN-ACT.

Tara Dermott, IOM X Program Leader, added, “As a regional campaign that leverages the power of media and technology to help prevent human trafficking, IOM X believes that YouthSpark provides a valuable opportunity for young people to gain tech skills and knowledge that they can apply in their own lives and to wider community efforts to counter trafficking.”

“World Vision Thailand aims to defend against the threat of human trafficking through the “End Trafficking in Persons” program. Our goal is to reach out to locals in six border provinces where youths generally find it difficult to achieve computer literacy. With support from Microsoft YouthSpark – Computer Science and ICT Education to Empower At-Risk Trafficking Youths program, young community leaders are able to develop ICT skills that can be passed on to their friends. The program’s inspiring content was met with great enthusiasm from our young learners, and they are able to use this newfound knowledge to build upon our accomplishments in protecting youths from human trafficking,” said Dr.Bunjongsek Supsopha, Marketing and Fundraising Director, World Vision Thailand.

“Since March 2013, Microsoft and the National Council for Child and Youth Development have collaborated closely to empower youths in Thailand with IT and computer science skills essential for young people in the modern world of digital economy. This year, our focus is on youths at risk of trafficking. With IT and computer science skills ensuring better accessibility to useful information, they will be able to protect themselves from this risk, pursue their career path to achieve self-reliance, and make use of new technology to transfer the skills to their peer later on. We look forward to enjoyable and fruitful partnership with Microsoft and we are confident that our coordinated efforts will result in providing at-risk youths with better live and brighter futures.”, added Srisak Thai-aree, Director of National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD).

“The program gave us an understanding of the human trafficking problem, which means we can protect ourselves better. We learned not to trust strangers in our community as they might be part of a human trafficking movement. In fact, even information found on the internet is a possible threat that we have to be wary of. Through this activity, my friends and I were able to create posters and websites to highlight the problem for my friends to see. On top of the fun activities, we realized that we are actually better problem solvers than we thought we were, and this encouraged us to spread the word for others’ safeties,” added Jeerawan Pornbanchongkul, a participating youth.

The “Microsoft YouthSpark – Computer Science and ICT Education to Empower At-Risk Trafficking Youths” program will expand into ten at-risk provinces to help over 1,300 at-risk youths stave off the threat of human trafficking with ICT skills and computer literacy. It is part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, which seeks to provide youths worldwide with technological skills that open up new career possibilities and opportunities to make positive social contributions.

[1] Data from United Nations Action for Cooperation Against Trafficking in Persons (UN-ACT), 2015

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About Microsoft

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.

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For further information, (press) please contact:

Pornravee Suramool or Nilawan Meedech

Hill+Knowlton Strategies Thailand

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