IF you think learning how to code, develop applications and build websites is too complex for primary school students, think again.
An initiative implemented by the Ministry of Finance through the National Strategy Unit using the National Malaysian Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) approach, the programme saw students from the first group taken through in a step-by-step manner to explore the Internet and learn to communicate with the computer during a four-month period from February to May.
They can put their new skills to the test by taking part in the first National Code Challenge 2016 (NCC) that will be held at the International Conference on Blue Ocean Strategy (ICBOS)/ National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) Day at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) from Aug 14 to 18.
Speaking at the launch of NCC in Putrajaya, Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said with the 4 billionth person going online anytime in the near future, the Internet provides huge economic opportunities to developing countries to leapfrog ahead.
He said the [email protected] programme, which is aimed to introduce and sensitise primary school children to the world of programming, is hoped to encourage them to become contributors and creators for the Internet rather than mere consumers. He added that it is important they acquire problem-solving and computational thinking skills that would enable them to build tomorrow’s start-up companies.
“These children could be the next generation of game changers and enterprising individuals who are equipped with the relevant skills to create successful and sustainable ventures. At one point in time, Malaysia was ahead of many Asean countries. Today, we are falling behind because we not only don’t possess the skills to innovate faster but we are also not ‘hungry’. I think we can become great again if we empower the young and that is why we want to go to the schools to teach kids these skills. We will carry out this programme until we reach a critical mass of Malaysian kids who can code and embrace the idea of being venture creators,” said Irwan.
The NCC is the finale for the [email protected] programme with 500 students selected from the first cohort of [email protected] Immersion Camps as well as participants from lower secondary schools competing in the open category.
There will be a second intake for the [email protected] programme that will run from July until October comprising another 1,500 students from another 50 schools — 30 from each school, respectively. The selection of the schools and students are done by the Ministry of Education (MOE), just like in the case of the first group. Once the second intake’s programme has been completed, participants will also have the opportunity to partake in a contest similar to the NCC.
The first batch of schools are located in Sarawak, Federal Territory of Labuan, Sabah, Malacca, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Selangor , Putrajaya, and Kuala Lumpur.
Irwan said with an allocation of RM10 million under Budget 2016, the [email protected] programme was initially projected to run for only one year in 100 schools. But the Finance Ministry has proposed for the programme to continue even after year-end and to involve more schools.
“We are also discussing with MOE on ways we can include coding/programming in the school syllabus — if not as a subject, as part of existing subjects in the curriculum,” he said.