Photo - (From left to right: 4th from left) TKP Dato' Narander Singh, Kajang Prison Director; Jasmine Begum, Director of Corporate, External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets; TKJP Dato' Haji Hassan bin Sakimon, Deputy Commissioner General, Malaysian Prisons Department; Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies; and KP Dato' Jamaluddin Saad, Director, Management of Inmate Division, Prisons Department of Malaysia, pictured on stage together at the announcement.
Microsoft Philanthropies has recently formed a three year partnership with the Prisons Department of Malaysia (under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs), which should bring digital literacy to about 500 juvenile inmates.
During her visit to Malaysia, Mary Snapp, corporate vice president of Microsoft Philanthropies, said the collaboration will provide these 500 inmates, aged between 16 and 21 from 13 prison schools nationwide, with capacity building opportunities with Microsoft volunteers, student partners and NGO (non-governmental organisation) partners such as Yayasan Generasi Gemilang.
Snapp said the main objective was "to prepare these individuals for employability, and to pursue further educational opportunities upon their release."
Inmates from the prison schools will be trained to use basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
"Microsoft was founded on the principle that people can do remarkable things when technology is within reach," she added. "We want to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills - communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, character, citizenship and computational thinking - and supporting educators in guiding and nurturing student passions."
"We are excited about the partnership with the Prison Department of Malaysia on this program, which includes providing Digital Literacy, entrepreneurship, computer science and leadership amongst others, looks at employability and start-ups as an outcome for these 13 prison schools," said Snapp.
Capacity building programmes
This initiative follows the success last year of Microsoft Malaysia's Hour of Code initiative, which introduced more than 160 Henry Gurney Prison School inmates to a specially created "Minecraft" coding tutorial.
Jasmine Begum, director, Corporate, External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets, said: "Since our first humbling experience at Henry Gurney last December, we have been in discussions with the Prisons Department of Malaysia to make this collaboration a reality, and we are really pleased that this partnership will further solidify our commitment to equip and educate these individuals with the knowledge and skills that will be useful to them once they have been released."
Microsoft Malaysia is also looking at providing training to teachers from the prison in the areas of digital literacy, which would help them to impart the necessary skills required to improve leaning outcomes.
Dato' Sri Haji Zulkifli bin Omar, commissioner general, Prisons Department of Malaysia, said: "The participation of the private sector in collaboration with the public sector is important in realising our vision of being a high-income economy by 2020," said
"This growth must be holistic, and the main ingredient to this is human capital," said Zulkifli. "This is where I believe that the capacity building programme is of importance, and I am pleased to note that Microsoft has put in place sustainable programmes that encourage youth capacity building in IT within the community."
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