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Microsoft launches coding initiative to develop computational thinking skills among Singapore students

Zafirah Salim | July 1, 2015
This initiative, in partnership with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), aims to nurture next-generation talent development to ensure that the country remains competitive in the 21st century.

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, shares a moment with a student attempting to code on Kodu at the Code for Change launch event. (Photo credits: Microsoft)

Microsoft launched today (July 1) a three-year nationwide initiative, called Code for Change, which aims to help nurture next-generation talent development to ensure that the country remains competitive in the 21st century.

In line with Singapore's Smart Nation vision and supported by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Microsoft will be spearheading programmes to help young talents in Singapore develop computational thinking skills.

At the launch event held at the NTUC Auditorium earlier today, Jessica Tan, Managing Director of Singapore, described 'computational thinking skills' as the ability to dissect problems and formulate solutions in a way that computers can understand and evaluate.

Tan also pointed out that it is now an increasingly important skillset in a technology-permeated landscape. In fact, an Asia Pacific-focused study released by Microsoft in February 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.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-Charge of Singapore's Smart Nation Programme Office; along with over 2,000 students and educators from pre-primary to universities also graced the event.

"What sets individuals apart is not their paper qualifications — in fact that is no longer the case today — but rather it is your skills and what unique things you can create which makes you special. That's where the opportunities lie," said Dr Balakrishnan.

Code for Change seeks to reach out to 1.2 million Singaporeans. Under this initiative, 500,000 students across all educational levels and academic backgrounds — regardless of their knowledge of coding — can partake in on-campus and off-campus curricula, events as well as competitions that impart the basics of writing coding instructions for software, applications and websites.

For instance, there are 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.

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.


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