Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting, and business solutions organisation, recently concluded TCS Sustainathon Malaysia 2021/2022 – a competition that was a phenomenal success for the youth of Malaysia in showcasing their problem-solving talents. The Cuties team from University Malaya emerged overall winners from a finale session that saw five finalists pitching their innovative ideas for solving education-related problems to a panel of eight judges. In total, the competition attracted 66 submissions from individuals and teams from 40 universities and colleges, comprising a total of 216 students. The finale was officiated by Dato’ Shaharuddin Abu Sohot, Secretary of the Planning and Policy Research Division at the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.
With the theme ‘Reimagining Education’, TCS Sustainathon Malaysia 2021/2022 aimed to get tertiary students to solve problems related to digital learning through the implementation of innovative technology-based solutions. It forms the Malaysian segment of TCS Sustainathon – an ASEAN-level SDG initiative targeted at tertiary students, as a platform to aggregate ideas, technology and innovations for solving pressing real-world sustainability issues. TCS Sustainathon Malaysia 2021/2022 was opened to students from all disciplines in public and private institutes of higher education as well as technical education institutes, with submissions accepted from individuals as well as teams of up to five members. Participants also had access to experts to help them to refine their ideas and the opportunity to develop suitable winning ideas for real world implementation.
“Knowledge and education are key drivers of a nation’s economy and crucial for reducing poverty. While we have made good progress in recent decades, there remains gaps in access to quality and inclusive education, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. As an organisation that believes in using our combined abilities to achieve more, we decided to focus on education in TCS Sustainathon 2021/2022 to address the pressing need for more inclusivity and to reduce gaps in education accessibility. It is critical to reimagine, rethink and reinvent learning for a more sustainable future, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that call for ensuring inclusive and equitable education. We believe in building Ecosystem with our partners to achieve common goals for Malaysia. On this shared planet, we are not just in a race towards a better tomorrow but are also running a marathon towards a more sustainable future for the next generation. We owe it to them,” said Jeevan Rajoo, Country Head, TCS Malaysia.
In their winning entry, The Cuties proposed using their Qsee e-learning virtual assistant to ease the burden and pressure of e-learning among students, as well as parents and teachers. Meanwhile, the first runner-up, Capable Covidiots from the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation, proposed to introduce Edurealm as a digital learning platform that consolidates academic activities to assist the efforts of teachers and to provide the time to upskill themselves, through an interactive virtual educational environment with easier traceability of educational progress. The second runner-up, UM4Blind from University Malaya, proposed to set up an integrated online learning platform for blind students and teachers, with functions such as AI voice assistant, digital library, virtual classroom and read-aloud functions for e-books.
Two Special Recognition Awards were also awarded to the other two finalists namely HNM Crew from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, which proposed to increase engagement during online classes and track user activities using their Xpectre iris scanning technology and Chan Sue Wen of Methodist College Kuala Lumpur, who proposed to transform old school buses into mobile cyber cafes for the use of B40 students.
“What the pandemic has taught us is that every business is a technology business. When we started TCS Sustainathon, we envisioned a platform where young people could build and take care of their own future. The world is at an intersection of sustainability and digital transformation, and we have a collective commitment and responsibility of creating a sustainable world for our future generations. The finale is a fine example of what we can do when we put on our sustainability lens to address challenges – and judging from the quality of the ideas we saw, we can all be confident that we will be in safe hands with this generation of young talents,” commented Girish Ramachandran, President, TCS Asia Pacific.
The four challenge statements for TCS Sustainathon 2021/2022 were co-developed with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) and the University of Nottingham (UNM), as follows:
- Challenge #1: The Digital Divide and Disconnection, co-developed with the University of Nottingham, sought ideas to bridge the gap in digital connectivity and provide inclusivity, to enhance community engagement and provide access to high quality higher education in a more inclusive way during and after the pandemic, employing technology to create blended learning experiences that include the B40 group and people with disabilities.
- Challenge #2: Absenteeism in Remote Learning, co-developed with Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, sought solutions to drive behavioural changes in students and motivate them to be actively present in their online learning journey.
- Challenge #3: Integrated Digital Learning Platform, co-developed with Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, sought ideas for a one-stop digital solution for monitoring and managing online teaching and learning, to improve the quality of online teaching and facilitate communication among parents, teachers, and educational institutions in an integrated manner.
- Challenge #4: Accessible Education for the Blind, co-developed with the Malaysian Association for the Blind, sought ideas to leverage technology to enable inclusive education, with digital solutions enabling inclusive education for visually-impaired students and revisualizing traditional teaching practices.
“The idea behind TCS Sustainathon to crowdsource solutions among the exact communities impacted by education-related problems is visionary. At the Ministry of Higher Education, we greatly welcome this initiative that challenges students to solve problems in digital learning and look forward to potentially collaborating on implementing solutions. Young people are our nation’s future, and it is important to offer broader platforms for them to exchange and refine ideas, on the journey to becoming first-rate thinkers who contribute to nation building,” commented Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, Director – Academic Excellence Division, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia as head of the panel of judges.
The eight-person panel of judges for TCS Sustainathon 2021/2022 comprised Assoc Prof Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, Director, Academic Excellence Division, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia; Afizulazha Abdullah, Chief Operating Officer, Celcom; Aadrin Azly, Chief Digital Officer, PETRONAS Group Digital; Anis Azlinda Abdul Ghani, Head of Strategic Communications, PETRONAS Downstream; Muhundhan Kamarapullari, Chief Innovation Officer, MRANTI; Raymond Siva, Senior Vice President for Investment and Brand and Chief Marketing Officer, MDEC; Faroze Nadar, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network Malaysia & Brunei and Michele Lemmens, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Corporate Sustainability, TCS Asia Pacific.
The supporting ecosystem of partners for the TCS Sustainathon 2021/2022 included the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) and social enterprise innovation hub SEEd.Lab, as well as leading corporations such as PETRONAS, Celcom and Astro, NGOs such as UN Global Compact Network Malaysia & Brunei, Teach For Malaysia, as well as over 10 universities including University Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), University of Nottingham, Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Multimedia University (MMU), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and UNITAR International University.
For more information on TCS Sustainathon 2021/2022, visit https://www.sustainathon.tcsapps.com/
Visit www.tcs.com to learn more about the company.