Advancing a future for everyone
Today, Thailand stands as one of the most dynamic territories in Asia’s technological landscape, and Microsoft Philanthropies is continuing its longstanding commitment as a long-term partner of the country. Under its mission to empower every person and every organization to achieve more, Microsoft Thailand has strived to use technology as an empowering force that provides equal access to newfound capabilities made possible by technology itself.
Advancing a Future for Everyone: We believe in a future where everyone has the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to achieve more
Microsoft’s priority is to ensure that digital technology and digital knowledge is accessible to every single person, regardless of their background, physical abilities, and location.
Under “Thailand 4.0” plan, the country is undergoing extensive reformation in all socio-economic areas including promotion of technology, creativity, and innovation, creating new opportunities for social and economic mobility in Thailand. With more than 20 years of philanthropical heritage, Microsoft Thailand reaffirms its commitment to turn technology into an empowering force facilitating the Kingdom’s transition to the digital era and making 70 million lives better through continuous work with the government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.
However, rapid growth can be a double-edged sword, as there is a risk that millions of people are left behind. Becoming a value based and innovation-driven economy is only possible through equipping each and every person in Thailand with the necessary skills to use information effectively, as well as promote digital literacy. In the past 4 years, Microsoft has developed and implemented a range of training programmes and digital literacy initiatives for over 56,000 people in Thailand. In 2018, we are doubling our efforts and plan to extend these trainings to over 20,000 people by year’s end.
Empowering Thai youth to be ‘Future Ready’
Skills and education will be key to tapping into the job market for the next generation, and digital skills will become essential to the future workforce.
In the next three years, 95% of jobs in Thailand will be transformed, and 65% of next-generation jobs do not even exist today. With computer science now playing a major role in defining what these future jobs will look like, today’s youth will find it undeniably beneficial to develop their skills and careers in this field.
This sentiment is echoed by industry leaders across the Asia Pacific region, including those working in the education sector. According to Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Survey, 87% of education leaders show urgency in embracing the change that technology brings, and believe that they must transform to a digital institution to enable future growth.
That’s why Microsoft Thailand has made its mission to ensure that every young person in Thailand regardless of their background is Future Ready, and is equipped with the digital skills and knowledge required to succeed in the tech-fuelled world and become the driving force of Thailand Digital Economy.
Enhancing educators’ skills
In February 2018, we announced the expansion of #YouthSpark programme with THB 3 million grants, with the aim to increase the number of teachers and youth-serving organizations that can bring in-demand digital skills to youth in and outside of the classroom by extending the availability of digital education to every young person through a long-term systematic change, as well as enhancing the capacities of organizations that work with young people with disabilities and youth from underprivileged communities.
The announcement was made at a computer science workshop for underprivileged and disabled youth.
Under #YouthSpark2018, Microsoft together with its partners, will provide digital literacy and computer science trainings for 18,000 unemployed, underprivileged youth from rural areas, and train 1,200 young community trainers.
“I was congenitally diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis which normally makes it very difficult for me to study with other children. However, the training was different as it started with teaching on the systematic thinking which allowed me to solve problems by coming up with practical solutions, and made it easier for me to learn to code. Using games like Minecraft as a learning tool also makes coding more fun. I felt much more motivated as I enjoyed the whole process and didn’t feel bored or stressed at all. This approach helps a lot to speed up my learning process on digital skills.” – Ms. Phinyaphat Junsoton, Student from Information System Development (ISD) Curriculum, The Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities
The first of many similar initiatives planned for 2018, the workshop was held under ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, ChangeFusion, as well as the two-year collaboration with the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai).
To support computer science teachers across Thailand, who are currently facing challenges due to the change in this year’s curriculums that require them to be able to teach additional digital skills including coding to their students, Microsoft organized “MakeWhatsNext with MakeCode Thailand 2018” training with the theme “Dream it, Do it, Code it!”.
The workshop introduced ways of integrating Microsoft’s Micro:bit into the computer science education and skills related computational thinking in 4.0 era – just in time for the new academic year. The event equipped over 300 teachers with knowledge of the basics of Micro:bit coding, which they can now pass on to Thai youths.
Additionally, in partnership with the National Council for Child and Youth Development Association (NCYD) and Kiatruammitr Foundation we held an Advanced ICT and Computer Science skills training session for 120 teachers and youth leaders from Sakeaw and Bangkok.
This training equipped them with the digital knowledge and skills that they will now share with 1,600 youths from their communities.
Equipping all students with digital skills
Providing the education and training Thais need to succeed in the digital economy isn’t an easy task, as students today face a future workforce unlike that of any previous generation. Digital skills, STEM education, and knowledge of computing are becoming essential to the jobs of today and tomorrow. In 2017, Microsoft Thailand reached out to more than 40,000 students through a series of connected education initiatives to ensure that all young Thais are future-ready and have access to the digital skills that employers seek.
In December 2017, we partnered with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and Change Fusion, to host #HourofCode2017. The full-day event was aimed to spur Thai youth’s interest in computer science and basic coding through engaging and fun activities, and saw more than 146 youth aged 8 to 16, as well as youth with disabilities, NGO representatives and educators come together to learn basic computer science skills and get inspirational advice from industry leaders.
To break the “difficult and not so much fun” stereotype and show the youth that learning computer science can be fun and engaging, Microsoft Thailand invited an IT influencer and Thailand’s most popular game streamer, to lead a live stream of a new Minecraft tutorial Hero’s Journey, that uses game elements to present computer science in a fun and creative way.
“Minecraft” Hour of Code tutorials have introduced more than 85 million people globally to coding and computer science.
The session was just one of many initiatives that Microsoft Thailand held under its Future Ready #HourOfCode2017 campaign to inspire the young generation to try and pursue computer science. In just a year, Microsoft Thailand conducted basic computer science trainings in 34 schools reaching 4,120 students via Skype-a-thon to inspire the young generation to try and pursue computer science.
Microsoft believes that youth is the driving force behind innovation and progress.
The Imagine Cup competition brings this belief to life, providing young technologists with opportunities to pitch their innovative ideas to industry professionals and acquire essential technical and entrepreneurial skills that will turn their vision to reality.
Thailand already has an exceptional record of four global victories at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle; World Champion 2007 and 2010 Software Design Category, World Champion 2012 and 2016 Games Category. This year, team BeeConnex from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) won the ticket to represent Thailand at Imagine Cup 2018 APAC Regional Finals in Kuala Lumpur, marking the 16th anniversary of the Imagine Cup programme in Thailand.
“Bees have a great impact on the ecosystem economy, as they are used commercially for large-scale pollination. We discovered from our installed sensor device that bees send countless patterns of signals with different meanings or called ‘Bee Dance’ which operates using Microsoft Azure in line with our intention to put everything on the cloud. With the ability to analyse and anticipate problems, Azure can also prevent the Colony Collapse Disorder by providing live notifications once bees begin to exhibit abnormal behaviours.” – Mr. Boonrit Boonmarueng, a BeeConnex team member
Team BeeConnex took home the first-runner up in the 2018 Imagine Cup Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and will take their innovation journey to the next level at the Imagine Cup World Finals. Held in Seattle this July, the World Finals will gather more than 50 student teams from all over the world, all vying for the top prize of up to US$100,000, mentorship opportunities with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, as well as Azure grants and credits to bring their winning solution to the market. Watch team BeeConnex and other aspiring young innovators in action at the Imagine Cup here: [LINK]
Closing the gender gap in STEM
Today, the number of women pursuing STEM education and careers is still low despite technology making tremendous progress over the last few decades as many girls are held back by biases, social norms and expectations that influence the subjects they study.
This gender disparity in STEM education and the IT industry hinders progress towards the digital future, not just in Thailand, but all over the globe.
Microsoft has a long history of supporting young women talents and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. In 2017, Microsoft Thailand held its first ever DigiGirlz event, a global Microsoft initiative to show Thai girls the value of STEM.
This year, we took a big step forward by kicking off a series of events and programs to launch the global #MakeWhatsNext campaign to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM.
In March only, we hosted two external events that saw a total of 104 participants gather to celebrate the power of girls in STEM.
One of them was DigiGirlz 2018, a half-day programme with two inspiring sessions aimed to advise middle and high school girls about benefits of education in STEM, and encourage them to participate in STEM related hands-on workshops.
Another reason for gender imbalance in STEM subjects is the lack of role models for young women to be inspired by, and grow confidence in the ability to pursue careers in those sectors.
Only 1 in 4 girls aged between 12 to 19 years of age in the region know a female public figure in the field of STEM.
This year, DigiGirlz participants had a chance to hear from some of Thailand’s female industry leaders and role models including senior executive at Johnson & Johnson, founder of Ooca, and others.
“I’ve never been interested in coding before, but participating in #MakeWhatsNext – DigiGirlz changed that. It was so inspiring and now I have the courage to learn and try without fear of failing. I thought coding would be very difficult, but this initiative makes it so much easier to understand that now, I’m actually considering to study coding in the future.” – Chanunchida Khaepen, a student participant of #MakeWhatsNext – DigiGirlz
Additionally, we partnered with UNESCO Bangkok and The Social Technology Institute, to hold Hackathon for ASEAN Culture of Peace. The Hackathon was open to mixed teams of female (70%) and male (30%) web/mobile application developers, who want to make a difference through technology, peace, and cross-cultural dialogue.
Each of the five finalist teams received THB20,000 to develop full working versions of their proposed apps to be presented at the Finalist Showcase on May 21. The winner of the Hackathon will receive a trophy from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, a gift from Microsoft and an opportunity to showcase their work at UNESCO Symposium on South-East Asian Shared Histories for Intercultural Dialogue and Culture of Peace in October 2018.
At Microsoft we also believe that to fulfil our company’s mission and truly empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, we, ourselves, need to do more. That’s why this year, Microsoft Thailand decided to highlight our brilliant women talents who are passionate about their work and inspire every one of us to achieve more.
On March 8, we turned one of our meeting spaces into a photo studio inviting everyone to be that trailblazer, role model, hero, and role model who can inspire the future generation of Thai women.
INVESTING IN COMMUNITIES
In over 20 years of committed diversity and inclusion efforts, we’ve learned that diversity is not a finite goal; it is a journey that requires constant self-assessment and recommitment. Microsoft Thailand has long-standing philanthropic history with numerous NGOs that receive technology and training from Microsoft and help ensure that technological benefits can be enjoyed by everyone in the Kingdom, regardless of their abilities or location. This year, we are reaching even further as we plan to increase our charitable initiatives to THB60 million.
Modern and inclusive workplace trainings
In 2017, Microsoft Thailand and Bankers’ Association CSR Club donated 550 computers and essential operation and productivity software worth 27 million Baht to the Thai Red Cross Society to enhance performance of physically challenged employees that work in 76 provincial Red Cross chapters and 240 Red Cross district branches across Thailand.
This year, we are expanding support for non-profits beyond providing computers and software to helping them use technology to transform the way they work, and most importantly, share the acquired digital knowledge and skills with the community.
In March 2018, we continued the empowerment initiative by providing Office 365 trainings and introducing Microsoft Accessibility, a programme that helps those with disabilities, to more than 100 physically challenged employees working at Red Cross. The trained employees will now be able to pass on the computer skills to additional 848 employees with disabilities from local Red Cross chapters.
Business applications deployment
As a company at the forefront of the digital transformation, it’s our duty to provide technology that people, organizations and the government can utilise to create solutions that create positive impact on our country, empower people, and bridge the inequality gap.
In 2017, Microsoft partnered with NEEDeed, an organization that assists NGOs to increase their productivity, and implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Social Innovation Foundation (SIF), a Thailand-based non-profit that connects people with disabilities with employment opportunities. Transitioning from a paper-based filing system, the NGO used Microsoft Dynamics 365 to facilitate a smooth transition to a centralised cloud database, streamlining all accompanying processes and ensuring that all beneficiary and sponsor information is well-documented, easily accessible and can be updated in real time. Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics 365, SIF’s capacity to process cases rose from just a few hundred cases per year to 3,000 cases in 2017 with an aim to reach 10,000 cases in 2018.
“Thanks to my employer the Minor Group company, I have forgotten about my condition. Because of their support and encouragement, I feel confident to leave my house and have a normal life – just like everyone else.” – Mr. Mongkol Phunsook, Minor Group employee hired through the SIF programme. Watch his story here: [LINK]
ADVANCING SYSTEMIC CHANGE
Microsoft firmly believes that true change is only possible through collective effort, persistence and creativity and we feel humbled and honoured when we see how our talented and resilient partners use Microsoft’s technology to create positive social impact.
Empowering nonprofits to build solutions for social impact
In 2017, Microsoft Thailand gave the power of Microsoft Azure to Earth Net Foundation’s Organic Coffee for Sustainable Forest project. In partnership with Betimes Solutions Company, we developed Internal Control System – a cloud-based app that shortens data collection and processing time from four to one month, 75% decrease, and allowing the staff to focus on coffee yield inspection system management and productivity.
The foundation extended the collaboration to Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and 350 families of farmers in 9 villages that cultivate coffee. Aimed to revitalise and conserve 20,000 Rai of watershed forests in Khun Chae National Park and Kok River, the ongoing initiative equipped the community leaders and farmers with technological skills that allow them to farm in a sustainable way.
This year, Microsoft’s cloud technology helped the winning developer team of The Emergency Disaster Mitigation Hackathon held by Change Fusion and The Asia Foundation, develop a disaster response app ‘Varee’ which available now on mobile application and www.varee.info
Created to help Thais commute during floods, ‘Varee’ uses Microsoft Azure to provide real-time updates on water levels during floods, and recommend the best commute routes.
Under the partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment, and the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Ministry of the Interior, the app also gathers data from the public who can report floods via Twitter, and has an integrated chatbot assistant that gives information on flood situation in given areas.
‘Varee’ is expected to benefit over one million users within the next two years.
Empower young entrepreneurs to innovate for social good
As a technology leader, Microsoft has been continuously supporting startups and researchers to encourage healthy competitiveness among young entrepreneurs.
This year, in partnership with Digital Ventures and seven leading universities with renowned engineering faculties, we announced “U. REKA”. The new project encourages lecturers, students, researchers, and everyone else interested in deep technology to join forces as startups enterprises, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Clouds and Security, Big Data / Internet of Things, Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR), and Quantum Computing, into innovations. Selected startups will receive full support from partners to bring their ideas to life – including Microsoft software technology and cloud resources required for development as well as advice from technical experts who can provide relevant advices to the participating startups. Microsoft is excited to see the power of Thai startups and researchers in writing the new future, all made possible through our cooperation programs.
There are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it. As technology moves forward, no one should be left behind. At Microsoft, we believe nothing is more important than this and will continue working towards providing Thailand and the rest of the world with solutions to drive growth and inspire positive change.