KOTA KINABALU: Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), and UNICEF with the support of the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced their collaboration to embark on a Future Skills For All programme yesterday.
The collaboration aims to make the learning of digital skills easier and more accessible for schoolchildren.
The launch was officiated by Assistant Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang.
Also in attendance were Resource and Educational Technology Division deputy director Dr Qhamariah Samu; Education Sector, Sabah Education Department deputy director Haji Abidin bin Marjan; Digi Head of Sustainability Philip Ling; MDEC vice president of Digital Talent Development Division Dr Sumitra Nair; and UNICEF education specialist Azlina Ahmad Kamal.
Speaking at the launch, Jenifer said that schoolchildren in Sabah, primarily those from the rural and underserved areas, currently lack the access to digital learning resources that can otherwise assist in bridging the skills gap, thus stimulating the growth and development of future talent in the state.
“We are excited to kickstart this programme in Sabah because our schoolchildren in rural communities are currently learning these subjects through the aid of textbooks without the opportunity to have hands-on learning as their schools may be deprived of the necessary tools.
“We want to change that through the implementation of this programme and empower schoolchildren from all walks of life to have equal access to future skills learning,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ling said it has been Digi’s ambition to engage one million schoolchildren in Malaysia by 2020 as part of their Yellow Heart commitment and this programme helps set that goal in motion.
“We hope to empower the underserved communities and strengthen inclusivity within rural areas by establishing a sustainable education programme focused on capacity building.
“Moving forward, we are looking to expand the availability of the programme to other communities in Sabah and ultimately, across the country, with the aim of reaching a wider community of schoolchildren and to make learning interactive and a hands-on experience.”
On behalf of MDEC, Dr Sumitra said they are pleased to be working with MOE, Digi and UNICEF to enrich the teaching and learning experience of digital tech skills via this initiative.
She added that it is very much in line with the aspiration of the #mydigitalmaker movement of MDEC to provide Malaysian youth with essential digital innovation and creativity skills for the future workforce.
In the meantime, UNICEF representative in Malaysia, Marianne Clark-Hattingh, said through this initiative, they want to close the gap between those with access to digital technology and those without.
“This is one part of our efforts to ensure quality education for all in Malaysia, especially indigenous children, children with disabilities, and undocumented children.
“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to ensure that no one is left behind – this includes equipping them with the digital skills needed for the future,” she said.
Future Skills for All Programme is also supported by Telenor Group, through its Global Partnership framework with UNICEF Global.
Through this long-standing partnership, Digi, MDEC and UNICEF Malaysia aspire to explore more sustainable ways to enrich the education experience for schoolchildren in underserved communities and aim to build more digital modules to upskill them in its upcoming second and third phases of the programme.
The programme started in Sabah yesterday with a four-hour workshop hosted by Universiti Malaysia Sabah with 60 digital natives consisting of teachers and schoolchildren from four primary schools around Kota Kinabalu, internet centre managers, representatives from e-Desa, state libraries and selected non-profit organisations.
At the workshop, participants were introduced to the digitised materials and to develop the required competencies to enable a training and learning environment, all of which are facilitated through a digital classroom format.