KUCHING: In conjunction with the International Youth Day, Microsoft Malaysia hosted underserved youth from various communities at its office with an aim to give them opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on technology workshops.
Known as the Microsoft pop-up Digital Skills Hub, the event saw 120 students from low income (B40) communities between the ages of nine to 17 years coming together to learn digital skills, as well as the basics of coding and computational thinking through the Minecraft Hour of Code session.
Commemorating the event, Dr Shanmugasiva, director, MySkills Foundation, said, “It brings us great joy to collaborate with Microsoft, to co-create opportunities for young people, and bridge the opportunity divide, with an initiative which is aligned to our vision to enhance the lives of Malaysian youth.
“This initiative is a good platform for children from underserved communities to learn the digital skills required to prepare them for the future workforce. We do hope that our efforts can continue to align in the future, to enable much needed betterment to the livelihoods of youth from underserved communities across Malaysia.”
The event is in line with the United Nations’ goal to create ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’ as well as the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at skills development, wellbeing, and gender equality, including essential psychological and physical development of young people.
According to UNICEF’s Report titled ‘Children Without’, almost seven per cent of children in Malaysia live in absolute poverty.
Initiatives like this pop-up Digital Skills hub provide safe spaces for urban poor youth, and help develop their skills for the future, allowing them to translate technology into economic opportunity.
Through this effort, Microsoft intends to continue partnering with interested parties on the creation of physical and digital safe spaces. The objective is to not only build essential cognitive and social skills but also help develop technological knowledge among the nation’s youths and equip them with skills to safely navigate digital spaces.
The key area of focus will be bridging the opportunity divide, by enabling exposure to digital skills.
The initiative was for-youth, by-youth and saw the attendees participating in a variety of fun and educational activities organized by Microsoft interns, with support from Microsoft employees and non-profit partners.
Besides the Hour of Code session, they also engaged in a Digital Safety session and heard about the journey of various speakers towards breaking the cycle of poverty, by leveraging the transformational power of education.
These sharing sessions provided insight into the positive impact of education, whilst raising awareness on the impact that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) can have in students’ lives, as it increases their future-readiness, and enables them to participate in the digital economy.
Among the speakers was Imagine Cup1 2018 Regional winner and Global Finalist, Yap Xien Yin, who spoke about his journey working with Team Pine, to develop a non-destructive sensing device that enables farmers to test the sweetness of pineapples non-invasively.
Marking the occasion, Dr. Jasmine Begum, director, Legal, Government and Corporate Affairs for Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets said, “We live in a time where we can no longer merely be technology users.
“As we head into a digital future, it is crucial that our youth are equipped with adequate knowledge, not just on manoeuvring through cyberspace, but also on being able to create and navigate digital spaces in a safe manner.
“As we transform towards becoming a generation of technology creators, at Microsoft, we believe in the democratisation of technology to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.