The ASEAN Foundation and Microsoft have announced the launch of the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme, at the ASEAN Secretariat office here on Thursday, that is aimed at equipping underserved ASEAN youth aged between 15 and 35 years with future-ready skills.
"I am very pleased to witness the launch of this ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme that aims to create future-ready ASEAN youths. This is a very good program," ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi stated at the launch event.
The secretary general stated that the program is in line with the ASEAN's current focus on industrial revolution and in accordance with the theme of Thailand's leadership this year in the ASEAN -- "advancing partnership for sustainability" -- that emphasizes cooperation with sustainability and the spirit of leaving no one behind.
The youth, accounting for more than 33 percent of the ASEAN's population, undoubtedly play a key role in bringing the region closer to its aspirations as outlined in the ASEAN Community blueprints.
All 10 ASEAN member states have intensified their efforts to develop and empower youth under the realization that the future of ASEAN lies in the hands of its youth, as they become ASEAN's future leaders and catalysts for economic, social, and cultural development.
The ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme aims to reach out to 46 thousand underserved youth in the seven ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam and equip them with digital skills to enable them to thrive in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
To achieve this objective, local partners from each of the seven ASEAN countries will be brought in to deliver capacity building workshops for over 500 educators by harnessing a specifically developed learning module.
Following the implementation of the workshops, a regional blog-making competition for youth from 10 ASEAN member states will take place at the end of the year. The competition will challenge ASEAN's youth to create a blog on ASEAN-wide sustainability challenges.
Apart from the competition, another key milestone of the programme will be the launch of an integrated website in April this year. The website will serve not only as the foremost e-learning platform for the underserved youth in ASEAN to deepen their digital skills but also as a medium to spread ASEAN's awareness among the youth.
"We believe that technology can be a force for social and economic inclusion. By equipping young people with digital skills, we are increasing their economic opportunities while also addressing the talent shortage faced by industries as they digitally transform," Director of the Global Digital Skill Program of Microsoft Philantrophies Yvonne Thomas stated.
Thomas noted that with the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme, Microsoft is committed to building the capacity of the ASEAN Foundation and its local training partners to equip underserved youth for the future of work.
"Through high-quality and equitable computer science education, the youth will develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that are essential attributes for them to thrive across all sectors," she stated.
One of the visions of the ASEAN education sector is to promote a community that acknowledges the importance of youth as the future of ASEAN, and one with an enhanced awareness of the ASEAN as a region.