KUALA LUMPUR, 30 June 2016 – Microsoft Malaysia today announced one of the program that under Microsoft Philanthropies is a three-year partnership with the Malaysian Prisons Department (under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs), to provide juvenile inmates in the country with digital literacy and upskilling opportunities in the areas of digital inclusion, entrepreneurship, and capacity building.
The collaboration will provide these 500 inmates, aged between 16 to 21 from 13 prison schools nationwide, with capacity building opportunities with Microsoft volunteers, student partners and NGO partners such as Yayasan Generasi Gemilang. The main objective of this three-year collaboration is to prepare these individuals for employability, and to pursue further educational opportunities upon their release. Inmates from the prison schools will be trained to use basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Microsoft Malaysia is also looking at providing training to teachers from the prison in the areas of digital literacy, which would help them to impart the necessary skills required to improve leaning outcomes.
Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Philanthropies, explained that the collaboration was part of Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to invest in digital inclusion programs and partnerships in the country. “Microsoft was founded on the principle that people can do remarkable things when technology is within reach. We want to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, character, citizenship and computational thinking – and supporting educators in guiding and nurturing student passions.”
“We are excited about the partnership with the Prison Department of Malaysia on this program, which includes providing Digital Literacy, entrepreneurship, computer science and leadership amongst others, looks at employability and start-ups as an outcome for these 13 prison schools,” she said during her visit to Malaysia.
Empowering Juvenile Inmates Through Digital Inclusion
Today’s announcement also marks the company’s second collaboration with the Prisons Department of Malaysia. Last year, Microsoft Malaysia’s Hour of Code initiative introduced over 160 Henry Gurney Prison School inmates to a specially created “Minecraft” coding tutorial, in which students and educators learnt about the basics of coding – allowing them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a two-dimensional “Minecraft” world, plugging together blocks to complete actions and generate code.
Following its success, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been in discussions with the tech giant to develop similar capacity-building programs. This has led to the Prisons Department of Malaysia considering the development of IT Academies for these 13 Prison Schools nationwide, which includes Henry Gurney Prison Schools and Integrity Schools.
Commenting on this development, Jasmine Begum, Director, Corporate, External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets, said that this partnership allowed Microsoft to reiterate its commitment to the Malaysian Government to empower every person in every community. “Since our first humbling experience at Henry Gurney last December, we have been in discussions with the Prisons Department of Malaysia to make this collaboration a reality, and we are really pleased that this partnership will further solidify our commitment to equip and educate these individuals with the knowledge and skills that will be useful to them once they have been released.”
“The participation of the private sector in collaboration with the public sector is important in realizing our vision of being a high-income economy by 2020. This growth must be holistic, and the main ingredient to this is human capital. This is where I believe that the capacity building program is of importance, and I am pleased to note that Microsoft has put in place sustainable programs that encourage youth capacity building in IT within the community that Microsoft operates in. The tools provided in these programs are enablers which encourages the development of talent based on innovation and creativity that ultimately enhances our national competitiveness. In short, we are using technology to make a meaningful social and economic impact,” said Dato’ Sri Haji Zulkifli bin Omar, Commissioner General, Prisons Department of Malaysia.
Microsoft Philanthropies – Sparking Equal Opportunities for All Youth Globally
Through Microsoft Philanthropies, Microsoft is able to extend its vision of empowerment through four pillars – empowering youth, partnership with NGOs, supporting accessibility for the disabled, and by helping those effected by migration processes. Within these four pillars, Microsoft will contribute in new and more impactful ways by connecting the benefits of technology to those who need it most, while working harder to drive inclusive growth of the global economy.
The partnership with The Prisons Department of Malaysia is part of Microsoft Philanthropies’ efforts in bridging gaps across communities. By working together with both public and private organizations, the company aims to help more Malaysian youth fill computer science-related jobs that will exist in the country as the nation move towards a developed status by 2020. “This notion complements a 2015 Microsoft study which found students recognizing the value of coding – or software programming – as a core subject in schools. An overwhelming 88% of Malaysian students surveyed said they wanted to know more about coding, and 90% said it was a good career path to have,” added Jasmine.
Microsoft believes that no single organization or company can close the global computer science education skills gap, and therefore is dedicated to work in partnership with others. Snapp elaborates, “Our efforts have focused on leveraging longstanding community relationships with our partners around the world to create access to computer science, and also to break down barriers and stereotypes that are keeping large populations of youth out of computer science education – even when the opportunities are available. Regardless of the career they pursue, we want these young people to benefit from understanding how technology works as well as how to create, apply and use it. And for those inspiring young people out there who are excited about pursuing a career utilizing computer science, we will show them how Microsoft can help them build their futures.”