TWO years ago, 13-year-old Lim Wern Jie has already developed more than 50 apps.
It was then reported in The Star that the self-taught coding wizard received a total of 600,000 downloads, mainly from the United States and Britain, of 14 of his applications that were published on the Apple App Store, netting him over RM2mil.
Wern Jie, possibly one of the youngest app-makers in the country, was first featured in the national English daily in December 2015.
His story caught the attention of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) which then approached him to be a participant of the #mydigitalmaker movement, an initiative to produce future digital makers by exposing Malaysian youths to the creative and innovative aspects of digital technology – cool stuff like coding, app development, 3D printing, robotics, embedded programming and data analytics.
The #mydigitalmaker movement has gone on to see promising results, opening doors for young Malaysians everywhere.
Students Wern Jie’s age and younger are now encouraged to participate in a Digital Ninja programme. Yes, you read that right.
Take 14-year-old Mohd Akmal Hazim Hafizul Rasydan, for example. The SMK Shah Alam student is one of many youngsters who come under the Digital Ninja banner.
Digital Ninjas are Malaysian students aged 13-17 years who possess great digital-making talents and have shown tremendous potential in becoming future digital tech experts.
The Ninjas get to attend a specially tailored programme offering advanced digital making and upskilling, critical thinking, leadership, entrepreneurship skills and career awareness and immersion. At the end of the programme, Digital Ninjas will receive MDEC endorsement and guidance in applying for scholarship and placements in Premier Digital Tech University in Cyberjaya.
Mohd Akmal Hazim has to date garnered about 400 subscribers and earned over RM50,000 thanks to the software he created, Benchpoint.io, which provides remote speed test solutions and Internet benchmarking systems.
Then there’s Kavin Lugarajan, a Year 4 student from SJKT Fes Serdang, who has won gold medals at the International, Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX) 2019 and International Young Scientist Innovation Exhibition 2019. He invented a digital bottle using the Arduino embedded system.
SM Sains Tuanku Jaafar student Aiman Afiq Suradi brought home a bronze medal in the drone operating skills challenge at the junior skills category of the WorldSkills Competition (WSC) Kazan 2019 held in Russia.
Bernstien Villaroy, Aldo Bede and Myesterieo Marius are all digital ninjas too. The trio from SMK Tambunan in Sabah are the winners of the Young Maker Challenge 2019. They invented an electronic and fully autonomous device that can be positioned at any landslide area, accident or road repair area to control traffic flow and ensure safety.
These are but a few examples. Since the launch of this programme, there have been over 400 digital ninjas groomed all over Malaysia to become the movers and shakers of global digital companies.
The Digital Ninja programme is just one of the many activities that the #mydigitalmaker movement offers today’s youth.
The movement launched in August 2016 is a joint public-private-academia initiative that aims to create a nation of digital makers by transforming Malaysian youth from digital users to digital producers. It was established to address the need to equip Malaysian youths with the right skillset and mindset, so they remain relevant in the future workforce. After all, 90% of all future jobs will require digital competencies.
MDEC vice-president of talent and digital entrepreneurship Sumitra Nair says that jobs of the future will require critical thinking, problem-solving, programming, data analytics, knowledge about Artificial Intelligence (AI), to work alongside AI.
“Although 75 million job roles are expected to disappear by 2022 according to the Future of Jobs Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum, another 133 million new roles are expected to emerge,” Sumitra says, adding that Malaysia, like many other countries all over the world, is racing to equip her younger generations for the changing global job landscape.
Interestingly, Sumitra adds that our country is ahead the curve!
“Malaysia is amongst Asia-Pacific’s top three countries at developing, attracting and retaining highly-skilled professionals, according to the IMD World Talent Ranking 2018,” she shares.
In terms of speed of digital transformation, Malaysia ranked second, just behind China and way ahead of India, Singapore and Indonesia (Global Digital Evolution Index 2017). The World Bank puts Malaysia in the league of high income economies where digital adoption levels are high, and higher than roughly a third of OECD countries.
Sumitra says that MDEC as the Government’s developmental agency for the digital economy assumes the role of a one-stop digital economy agency which connects government to industry and supports collaboration between the public and private sectors to catalyse initiatives to drive innovation, expansion and investment in Malaysia.
The #mydigitalmaker movement was therefore established, because now, more than ever, there is the need to equip our youths with the right skillsets and mindset to ensure that they remain relevant in the future workforce.
Did you know that according to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs Report, 65% of children in schools today will end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist?
“We need to nurture a generation of talented and passionate young entrepreneurs who can bring new innovations and transform Malaysia’s digital economy,” says MDEC CEO Surina Shukri.
“As parents and teachers, we need to change our mindset today from envisioning the traditional ‘safe’ jobs for our children as emerging technologies will render many of today’s jobs irrelevant.
“Developing a foundation for nurturing digital age talent relies heavily on the layering, embedding and integrating technology learning into our education system right from the beginning when our children start to learn, and to encourage this mindset throughout the whole of their lives.”
Surina feels that one of the most important moves we are making today as a nation is preparing our children for the 4th Industrial Revolution.
“We must expand the availability and supply of tech talent,” she says, adding that the #mydigitalmaker movement continues to expose Malaysian students to cultivating creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communications skills.
MDEC has always been at the forefront of unearthing Malaysia’s digital whiz kids, inspiring them and giving them a platform to build up their skills.
“That’s how the #mydigitalmaker movement came about not so long ago. The grassroots initiative is to create a nation of digital makers by transforming Malaysian youth from digital users to digital makers,” Surina says, adding that in addition to skills such as data science, software development and cybersecurity, the digital world is increasingly looking for well-rounded tech professionals who can think creatively, solve problems and help build for a new world.
The movement consists of more than 60 partners comprising MDEC, Education Ministry (MoE), public and private sectors, universities, tech companies and NGOs, and to date more than 700,000 students are taking part in digitalmaker activities via formal curriculum and after school programmes.
The two key strategies of the #mydigitalmaker movement are:
> Supporting MoE to integrate computational thinking (CT) and computer science (CS) into the national school curriculum. Teaching modules developed by MDEC and MoE to support the implementation of new KSSR and KSSM that begins with Year 1, Form 1, and Form 4 were rolled out in 2017.
> Partnering industry and academia to nurture and groom talented young Malaysian to become future digital innovators.
The #mydigitalmaker movement aims to transform youth to become digital producers by focusing on three levels: providing general awareness and exposure to all students; encouraging students to pursue their interest in digital creativity and innovation; and, growing and sharpening digital talents.
As part of this process, MDEC and its partners run various programmes for students to experience hands-on activities such as the Hour of Code campaign (one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify coding). It also has introduced teaching modules jointly developed by MDEC and MoE to make teaching and learning more effective, and conducted training for teachers. #mydigitalmaker’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Centres, located in 12 universities across the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak, were established to prepare teachers and ensure they have the right teaching approach.
To-date, 1,530 master teachers have been trained for computer technology and computer science, and 500 master teachers trained for design and technology, and these master teachers in turn have trained more than 88,000 other teachers.
“To help teachers expand their access to learning tools and further training, an educator network has also been established.
“Short courses and certification programmes on programming/coding, embedded systems, digital making and more offered by #mydigitalmaker partners and university-based teacher-training hubs are available during weekends and school holidays to support educator readiness. To-date more than 30,000 teachers are part of this network,” says Sumitra.
There are also Digital Maker Club modules for co-curriculur clubs and piloted in 69 schools across Malaysia, and Digital Maker Hubs, which are spaces that have digital making facilities open to the public, students, teachers and parents. There are already 75 hubs to date all over the country.
Then there are champion schools which act as a nucleus to support neighbouring schools in cultivating digital creativity and innovation. The champion school consists of Digital Maker Hub, Digital Maker Club, Digital Maker Champion Students, professional development for educators in computer technology and computer science, participation in digital making competitions, workshops and awareness for surrounding schools – all in line with the direction of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
MDEC and the MoE co-developed a Digital Competency Score (DCS) to gauge the digital competency level of the Malaysian youth towards preparing them for the future of workforce, while the #mydigitalmaker Hero is an open-source digital badge platform to capture students’ digital making skills and achievements.
#mydigitalmaker Fair 2019 is the flagship event of the #mydigitalmaker movement and is well on its way to becoming the premier digital tech education exhibition in the country. The fair celebrates what the movement has accomplished throughout the year, and hopes to further inspire Malaysians to learn about the latest tech skills and job opportunities that are available in the industry.
The fair is a physical manifestation of the movement, giving life to the ecosystem by bringing together industry players, academicians and the Government under one roof. Designed for students, teachers and families, the two-day fair provides hands-on experiences for all. If you’re interested to know more about MDEC’s #mydigitalmaker movement, then this is surely the place to be.
The fair takes place today and tomorrow (Sept 14 and 15) at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC), Kompleks Kerajaan, Kuala Lumpur. There are hands-on workshops and talks from some of Malaysia’s best tech talents.
Visitors will be able to immerse themselves into the realm of robotics, coding, Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality and Internet of Things. Students will also get the chance to assess and plot their education path to better prepare them for the careers of tomorrow. There will also be competitions to participate in, and 45 exhibitors to view. Suffice to say there will be more than enough to keep you suitably entertained and occupied. Entrance fees are RM5 for those aged between seven and 17 years, and RM10 for adults. Children below seven get to enter free.
Go to Mydigitalmakerfair.com for more information.
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