IDA, Microsoft tie up to teach students computer coding

Sophia Curic yesterday presented an interactive story, which she coded, at the Code for Change launch.
Sophia Curic yesterday presented an interactive story, which she coded, at the Code for Change launch.PHOTO: MICROSOFT

Code for Change, under Singapore's Smart Nation vision, aims to reach 1.2m individuals

Six-year-old Sophia Curic seems like any other pre-schooler, except she has been coding as a hobby for the past two years.

Yesterday, she presented her interactive story, Automatic Bottom Spanker, created using programming language Scratch, to hearty laughter from the audience at the Code for Change launch.

Among the audience was guest of honour Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-Charge of Singapore's Smart Nation Programme Office.

Sophia's story featured an animated cat character being spanked when it was naughty and rewarded when it was good.

Code for Change is a three-year initiative to boost next-generation talent development to support Singapore's Smart Nation vision.

It was launched by Microsoft and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) yesterday at the NTUC Auditorium at One Marina Boulevard, and at other satellite launch locations at the Institute of Technical Education and the polytechnics.

The aim is to develop computational thinking skills in up to 1.2 million individuals, of whom up to 500,000 will be young people, said Microsoft Singapore managing director Jessica Tan .

Students from lower primary to junior college and polytechnic level will learn skills through on-and off-campus curricula, events and competitions to impart the basics of writing code for software, applications and websites. She added: "We want to call students to action and drive change. Coding allows children to gain confidence to create, to make things happen, and not just apply technology."

Dr Balakrishnan urged young people to take advantage of this technological age.

"This is an age where young, imaginative and confident minds equipped with the right skills can create huge opportunities for themselves, their families and Singapore," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2015, with the headline 'IDA, Microsoft tie up to teach students computer coding'. Print Edition | Subscribe