Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF representative, Malaysia, said, "In line with UNICEF's #disable2enable campaign, we are thrilled to be working with Microsoft for Code for Malaysia - extending work they've done with children elsewhere to include children with disabilities. In doing so, it helps us promote the idea that we need to see the child before the disability and create opportunities for children of all abilities to grow, learn and contribute. We hope to multiply this effort in Malaysia and export the idea to other countries in ASEAN and around the world."
Microsoft also released results from a new Asia Pacific survey, which noted that the majority of students in Malaysia saw the value of coding in their education and future careers. However, the study also found that students feel relatively unsupported in their interest for coding, signalling an urgent need for educators to look deeper at integrating it as a core subject in the school curriculum.
The survey - conducted in February 2015 - polled 1,850 students under 24 years old from across eight countries in Asia Pacific, including Malaysia, on their attitudes towards coding or software programming.
According to the survey, 88 percent of students in Malaysia want to know more about coding, and 68 percent wish that coding could be offered as a core subject in their schools.
Dinesh Nair, Microsoft Malaysia's director of developer experience and evangelism, said the study showed students in Malaysia were aware of the impact of technology on businesses and society - '74 percent of students said that coding was important to their future careers, and 72 percent agreed that coding will be relevant to all careers in the future, regardless of areas of specialisation. '
"The world is increasingly dependent on technology," said Nair. "In order to reach their full potential, young people need to have an understanding of how technology works, and how to make it work for them. It's no different in Malaysia - our youth fully recognise the importance of coding as a fundamental 21st century skill and how it would prepare them for success in the future."
"As our world continues its evolution into one that is mobile-first and cloud-first, it is important for educators in the region to seriously consider offering coding as a subject and how it can be integrated into the curriculum as soon as possible," he said. "Youth with 21st century skills such as coding will find themselves better qualified for new employment in all areas, not just technology. Remember, it's in the playing that the learning comes for free."
Microsoft's Begum added: "At Microsoft, we believe that code is a language that anyone can learn and computational thinking is an essential foundational skill that should be taught in all schools - regardless of age, gender, or your current field of study. Writing code and creating a program of your own is not complicated or difficult, and more importantly, it's fun! More than 82 million people of all ages around the world already tried coding last year through the global "Hour of Code" event."
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