The second year of Asia Pacific’s #WeSpeakCode campaign, part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, came back bigger than before! The regional effort succeeded in challenging thousands of youth to do their first hour of code and got many experienced coders to share their love of programing across the region between 23-29 March. From colourful India to the sunny Philippines and back to bustling New Zealand, here’s what each country did in its efforts to get everyone to Speak Code!
First up, Microsoft Hong Kong kicked off with more than 2,000 local students from 22 primary and secondary schools engaged in hands-on coding experiences through courses on TouchDevelop and Code.org. The week culminated in a grand total of 3,000 coding hours, representing Hong Kong’s largest-ever, territory-wide coding event, and an exciting introduction to the fun of coding.
Microsoft India partnered with YouthSpark-Project Jyoti (YSPJ) to conduct community training centre coding sessions, not just for students and the local communities, but also, with thanks to the Aga Khan Rural Support programme, for tribal children to try their hand at coding! It’s even more remarkable that for many, this was their first time operating computers. With just 21 trainers at seven centres, the coding sessions engaged 400 participants through various activities like Kodu Game Lab, Angry Birds and Frozen. The centres plan to conduct more sessions during the upcoming summer break through schools and other educational institutions across the area.
‘When Arts Meet Coding’ challenged non-IT creatives to use code as a means to impact their industries. Microsoft Indonesia partnered with Coding Indonesia to train two people from different creative industries to create apps, all in only 15 hours. This resulted in an app that displays a variety of dress patterns by Fashion Designer Ayu Dyah Andari’s called Technoethnic, and Musician Dwika Putra’s Song Flake, a real-time app that forms unique visualisations based on the instruments played. This set-up the premise for multiple Code.org workshops, involving 35 educators, 30 nonprofits and 270 youth. Support came from Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, YCAB Foundation, TechSoup Asia, US Embassy of America and @america.
Microsoft Japan’s DX Team involved the Microsoft Japan MVP community to conduct a series of IT events (MVP ComCamp) in eight different cities across the country, from Sapporo to Fukuoka, for more than 4,000 attendees. From programing workshops mentored by university students and the technical community to events covering topics such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Azure Machine Learning and programming with Visual Studio, participants also learned more about careers in the Computer Science and IT Industries. A big highlight included the Hiroo Gakuen High School in Tokyo, which had 115 students participate in a 3-day programming camp at the Microsoft Shinagawa office.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Microsoft Korea and Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in February 2015, to provide coding education with a special focus on underserved youth and young women in Korea. This was then followed by 44 events in 25 academic institutions and 20 community centres, impacting nearly 2,000 students with first-hand coding experience. The #WeSpeakCode Splash with Imagine Camp on 21 March, done in partnership with Junior Achievement Korea, introduced students to the Internet of Things (IoT) through Arduino, an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software.
Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal kicked off #WeSpeakCode with a Briefing and Train the Trainer Session where MSPs and volunteers learned the importance of getting code into the school curriculum, and also how important it is to encourage youth to take their first step towards coding. The following week saw 70 volunteers and MSPs conducting more than 124 events at colleges and schools across the country, with more than 9,700 students, between the ages of 9-21, learning to code. Some Nepali celebrities, comedians and educators also participated to add to the fun!
Twelve-hundred people attended the inaugural Microsoft New Zealand Student Accelerator (MSA) Showcase, inspiring high school and tertiary students to pursue careers in the IT industry. Following which, eight High Tech Youth Studios across New Zealand and Fiji participated in a simultaneous ‘Coding for Change’ event over Skype. A highlight was a recorded video message by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in support of all the young New Zealanders participating in #WeSpeakCode.
Through Microsoft Philippines, the country was taken by storm with over 2,300 youth from 12 cities across the island of Luzon taking part in the campaign. Launched with a real-life Minecraft castle, young children and friends from the media joined the event to learn the basics of coding. All hands were mobilised to spread the message further with Microsoft Philippines General Manager Karrie Ilagan, speaking to disadvantaged young women about her inspiring career in the tech industry at the Coding Class for Girls. Moreover, Microsoft Philippines Student Partners (MSP) spread #WeSpeakCode to schools and colleges alike, while NGO partner Gawad Kalinga plans to take #WeSpeakCode to indigenous communities and post-disaster, post-conflict areas in the future.
Microsoft Sri Lanka set the Internet abuzz as youth from all over the country watched the Hackanix Facebook Page, to see if they had qualified to attend the ultimate code party on 27 March, with 15 teams qualified for the 24-hour hackathon. The winners used augmented reality to steal the show and each walked away with a notebook from Microsoft. Elsewhere, the hype was kept up with 40 Maldivian students coding extensively at the Microsoft Sri Lanka office on a study tour, while other students made their way to Colombo’s SLANA Centre to get their share of coding.
A gathering of both professional and aspiring coders was hosted by Microsoft Thailandon 21 March, where nearly 200 Thai youth and representatives, spanning industries and professions, took part in a symbolic effort to highlight the importance of coding for today’s youth. Distinguished guests included Associate Professor Dr Piniti Ratananukul, Secretary General of the Office of the Education Council; and Mr. Alongkorn Laowngam, Assistant Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology. With joint efforts from various Microsoft teams, more than 50 coding sessions will be held to target at least 2,000 youth at schools, universities and community centres across Thailand.
Last but not least, Microsoft Vietnam delivered training to more than 12,000 university and K-12 students, with multiple Sponsorship Agreements to be signed with the various academic institutions. During these on-campus trainings, learning tools from Code.org were used by the Microsoft Vietnam DX team and Microsoft Vietnam Student Partners, with even the teachers and educators taking part to learn how to teach code to their students in their IT-related classes.