2015 marks the second year of Microsoft’s WeSpeakCode campaign in Malaysia, which is also called Code For Malaysia locally; whereby more than 2,000 youths from all walks of life, ranging from underprivileged and disabled communities to those from educational institutions such as schools and universities all come together to learn how to code and program.

Microsoft Malaysia hosted a range of activities for a week, from 25th of March to 2nd of April, in collaboration with schools, universities, government and non-government agencies. These include the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) Taylor’s University, MySkills Foundation, as well as YWCA Kuala Lumpur, with the main theme this year being “inclusiveness”.

The children get to learn about programming from professionals who were there every step of the way

The children get to learn about programming from professionals who were there every step of the way

Microsoft Malaysia, together with YWCA Kuala Lumpur conducted a coding session for 70 girls from the underserved community, and with UNICEF, the company tutored youths from the disabled community to code in only a few hours – demonstrating how simple it was to learn coding – who in turn showed their newfound skills to the delegation from UNICEF’s Executive Board who were present at the event.

In conjunction with the campaign, Microsoft also released the results from a new Asia Pacific study which revealed that the majority of students in Malaysia recognize the value of coding in their education and the potential it creates for their future careers. However, the study also found that students feel relatively unsupported in their interest for coding, signalling an urgent need for educators to look deeper at integrating it as a core subject in the school curriculum.

Disabilities are no hindrance when it comes to learning how to code and program, as this child demonstrates

Disabilities are no hindrance when it comes to learning how to code and program, as this child demonstrates

The survey, conducted in February 2015 polled 1,850 students under 24 years old from across eight countries in Asia Pacific, including Malaysia, on their sentiments towards programming. The respondents came from a variety of academic backgrounds, including arts & humanities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), business, and other general fields of study.

According to the survey, 88 percent of students in Malaysia want to know more about coding, and 68 percent wish that coding could be offered as a core subject in their schools. This suggests that coding has the potential to be a highly engaging subject that can capture the attention and imagination of students, leading to positive learning outcomes.

“As our world continues its evolution into one that is mobile-first and cloud-first, it is important for educators in the region to seriously consider offering coding as a subject and how it can be integrated into the curriculum as soon as possible. Youth with 21st century skills such as coding will find themselves better qualified for new employment in all areas, not just technology. Remember, it’s in the playing that the learning comes for free.” Said Dinesh Nair, Director of Developer Experience and Evangelism, Microsoft Malaysia.