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Coding wanted as a core subject in schools in Asia Pacific: Microsoft

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 24, 2015
Even though majority of students in the region recognise the value of coding, they receive lack of support and opportunities to pick up coding skills in schools.

Coding seems to have shed its uncool image, suggests findings from Microsoft's survey conducted in line with its YouthSpark  #WeSpeakCode campaign.

The survey — which polled 1,850 students under 24 years old from eight countries across the Asia Pacific region — found that coding has the potential to capture the attention and imagination of students. Majority (85 percent) of the respondents indicated interest in coding, and three quarter of them wished that coding could be offered as a core subject in their schools.    

It was also revealed that students in the region understood the benefits of coding. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of them said that coding is important for their future careers, regardless of their areas of specialisation. Besides that, 51 percent said that coding could help them create apps while 39 percent said that coding teaches them to think logically.     

 "These youths fully recognise the importance of coding in helping them acquire fundamental 21st century skills and prepare them for success in the future," said Cesar Cernuda, President, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

Lacking support from schools
Despite the enthusiasm and interest in coding, only 53 percent of the students said that their schools offered coding as a core subject or an extracurricular activity. Moreover, 44 percent of the students claimed to have picked up coding on their own through online tutorials.  

This disconnect between the students' interests and support they are receiving from schools indicates the need for educators to better support the younger generation in taking their first coding steps, said Cernuda. "It is important for educators in the region to stop asking whether or not to offer coding as a subject - but how it can be integrated into the curriculum as soon as possible."

But not all hope is lost. The survey found that a few countries in the region are seeing increased momentum in the uptake of coding in schools. Majority of students in the Philippines (72 percent), Thailand (70 percent) and Vietnam (66 percent) report that they were given opportunities to learn coding in their schools.

#WeSpeakCode campaign
In support of growing student interest in coding, Microsoft will be running its YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign in the Asia Pacific region sometime this year.  Aimed at inspiring youth in the region to try their hand at coding and become creators, the campaign will connect aspiring student coders of all skill levels with the tools, resources, and experiences they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality.

"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," said Cernuda. "Through the Microsoft YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign, we're bringing the movement here to Asia Pacific and empowering youth here to innovate, create, and unlock the best opportunities for their future."


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