Microsoft Malaysia takes the Hour of Code journey from prison school to International schools, and beyond

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Kuala Lumpur (21 December 2015) — Malaysia had the honor of being the launch country to the third-annual Hour of Code in Asia Pacific – a campaign by Microsoft Corp. and Code.org to broaden global participation in computer science. With the theme “Code4Good” continuing the Company’s emphasis on inclusiveness, Microsoft Malaysia hosted Hour of Code events spanning 247 locations across Malaysia. The partnership with nonprofits and international schools, including outreach to underrepresented youths in the country, saw more than 25,000 children and youth participating in the Hour of Code.

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For this year’s Hour of Code, Microsoft Corp. and Code.org unveiled a specially created “Minecraft” coding tutorial which introduces students and educators to basic coding within the fun and popular “Minecraft” environment. The tutorial – available at https://www.code.org/mc – introduces players to basic computer coding concepts, allowing them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a two-dimensional “Minecraft” world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code.

The Hour of Code campaign had an early start in Malaysia at the 1st ASEAN Entrepreneurship Summit (1AES) on 21 November – where young Malaysians representing the 10 ASEAN countries partially created a code with “Minecraft”. This code was then completed by the Minister of Finance 2, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Bin Mohamad Hanadzlah to officially launch 1AES.

The highlight of the campaign, however, was the Hour of Code event held at the Henry Gurney Prison School in Malacca, where over 150 of its students were shown how easy it was to code. They were taught coding with “Minecraft” by over 20 Microsoft Student Partners, comprising of undergraduates from across Malaysia along with employee volunteers from Microsoft Malaysia who shared their passion and knowledge for technology with these inmates, making coding fun, relatable and enjoyable.

“A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world,” said Jeff Bullwinkel, Associate General Counsel and Director of Corporate External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Asia Pacific and Japan, who was at Henry Gurney to officiate the event. “With ‘Minecraft’ and Code.org, we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun – and this extends to everyone including the students here at Henry Gurney.”

Yusni Bin Habibullah, Deputy Superintendent of Henry Gurney Prison School, was thrilled with the program. ”Our inmates rarely get opportunities to be involved in such an engaging program, more so one that exposes them to 21st century skills that will prepare them for success in the future. They really enjoyed themselves and got to experience a truly exciting time learning how to code in a unique and fun manner through “Minecraft”. We hope this program will inspire the participants to fulfill their potential and to make use of the knowledge they gained today when they leave school.”

This successful collaboration is the first of such effort in the long-term partnership Microsoft is looking to undertake with the Prison Department of Malaysia to equip and educate the inmates of Prison Schools across Malaysia with the knowledge and skills that will be useful for their future careers.

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The Hour of Code campaign this year also saw the participation of children and youths of all ages from schools in the Federal Territory and Selangor, including students and participants from the Help International School, Tenby International School and Nation Building School. Separately, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) in partnership with Microsoft, conducted Hour of Code sessions open to the public and children of Microsoft employees. Keeping to the theme of “Code4Good”, the children who attended the Hour of Code sessions donated food and essentials to the victims of the recent floods in Malaysia.

Jasmine Begum, Director, Corporate External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets said, “At Microsoft, we believe every young Malaysian should have the opportunity to learn computer science, giving them the power to create with technology. We want to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills and supporting educators in guiding and nurturing student passions. Therefore it is with great pleasure that we welcome the announcement by Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Secretary General, Ministry of Finance at 1AES to introduce coding in primary schools as a pilot project next year.

“With the Hour of Code campaign, we continue to create real impact in Malaysia, equipping the younger generation with computer science knowledge and basic programming which are skills that will form the foundation for many jobs in the future,” she added.

In a recent survey that Microsoft conducted, at least four out of every five students find that “coding is cool”, and yet despite this enthusiasm and interest, only half of them (53% of youth in the Asia Pacific) feel that they have an opportunity to learn coding in school.

Jasmine continued, “As technology has become an integral part of people’s daily lives, we’re seeing a growing demand – from students, parents, teachers, governments, and nonprofits – to teach youth how to use and create technology to help them become the innovators and drivers of growth in their communities. That is what Microsoft has been doing in Malaysia for more than 20 years – working together with the government and education institutions, the corporate sector and nonprofit organizations to come together and make a difference for the future opportunities of youth in our region, to inspire the next generation of Malaysians to propel the country towards our vision of a developed nation by 2020.”

 

Learning coding with Minecraft

Created by “Minecraft” game designers together with Code.org, the tutorial features Steve and Alex from “Minecraft” and “Minecraft”-inspired challenges that will be familiar to its more than 100 million players around the world. The “Minecraft” tutorial is designed for ages 6 and up, and introduces players to basic coding skills, encouraging them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a 2-D “Minecraft” world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code. Players are offered a set of 14 challenges, including free play time, to explore coding concepts they’ve learned through the tutorial.

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This year’s ‘Minecraft’ tutorial will empower millions of learners around the world to explore how a game they love actually works and will inspire them to impact the world by creating their own technology or apps.

To date, more than 100 million students across 180 countries and 40 languages have participated in the Hour of Code. This year, the campaign expects to exceed 100,000 events during 7-13 December globally and to continue introducing more girls and underrepresented students of color to this foundational 21st century field.

In support of Code.org and the global Hour of Code campaign, Microsoft will also lead thousands of Hour of Code events in more than 50 countries around the world. Events will take place at Microsoft stores, offices and innovation centers as well as facilities of Microsoft’s YouthSpark nonprofit partners and schools. They will be led by over 7,000 Microsoft Student Partners, Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and employee volunteers. In addition, Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide.

 

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