Deep Dive into Malaysia’s Digital Economy with MDEC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood - Part 2


As a result of this philosophy, the My Digital Maker Movement launched last year proved to be a hit. "In 2017, the curriculum - the computational thinking and computer science curriculum - has started to roll out as a formal subject in schools. Last year when we piloted this, we saw 100,000 schoolchildren participating in the My Digital Maker Movement throughout the country. We plucked out the most talented of them - the most talented and the most interested ones - and we took them through various programmes that were co-organised and jointly run by industry players."

Yasmin shared photos of how 10 out of 33 children - aged between 13- to 15-years old - competed for the chance to present their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists (VCs) in Silicon Valley. "And these kids jblew them away! The VCs wrote to me personally: 'Yasmin! Your kids are amazing!' And these were kids! When we took them three months before, they were so timid, they didn't know how to speak! But there they were, pitching with passion - in English! - to the Silicon Valley VCs!

"And some of these kids, they were ideating things! One of them was a mobile multi-purpose bed - a bed that can turn into a wheelchair! This was meant for the elderly - and this 14-year-old boy, Hazami from MCKK, he was trying to solve his grandfather's problem of not being mobile enough!"

She also mentioned a trio from Miri who developed the Colour Intelligent Recognition System, after seeing the work done by their parents, who are oil palm plantation workers. "They saw their parents separating out the palm oil fruits - the ripe ones from the unripe ones - and they saw that it was based on colour. So they developed a colour recognition system to do this! So you can see that our kids have this kind of creativity!"

Yasmin was also very pleased with the fact that quite a number of girls were participating as well. "Who says that girls are not into tech?" she said, laughing. "Only, with girls, their passion is not so much in tech, their passion is to solve problems. And tech is the way to solve problems - but this is the best way to get girls into tech. Don't tell them it's tech! Tell them: 'Solve a problem'. That is when their passion will come out."

Yasmin said that the My Digital Maker Movement is going to be something that MDEC will continue to focus on in a significant way this year. "We know that this is going to make a huge difference. We're going to be able to produce more and more of these kids. We are very excited about the potential of our talent - all we need to do is pry it out." It looks like it's going to be a very busy year for MDEC on all fronts.

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