New programme to help children from disadvantaged homes to pick up digital skills

The first phase of My Digital Bootcamp started on Sept 3, 2019, as a two-day "mission on Mars" for 100 pupils from Townsville Primary School and Pathlight School.
The first phase of My Digital Bootcamp started on Sept 3, 2019, as a two-day "mission on Mars" for 100 pupils from Townsville Primary School and Pathlight School.PHOTO: CMG

SINGAPORE - A new free programme has launched to allow upper primary pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Central Singapore district to pick up digital skills in a fun manner.

Dubbed My Digital Bootcamp, it is part of a larger effort to ensure that no one, including children from disadvantaged backgrounds, is left behind as Singapore marches into the digital future, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran yesterday (Sept 3).

"We want all our children, in every segment of our society, to be active participants in the digital future," he said, at the launch event at Townsville Primary School.

Initiated by the Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC), My Digital Bootcamp is supported by United Overseas Bank (UOB), which donated $500,000 to fund the programme. It targets some 1,000 upper primary pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Central Singapore district.

The two-day workshop started on Tuesday for 100 pupils from Townsville Primary School and Pathlight School. Students learn programming concepts and the free programming language Scratch to create a robot and navigation tools while play-acting as stranded astronauts in Mars.

Townsville Primary 4 pupil Lancelot Leung, 10, said in the middle of a robotics workshop that he was "very, very excited" about completing the programme.

"I tried to build a Lego robot vehicle with a motor before, but it wasn't very good. I hope I will be able to build a much faster and better one here," he said.

Participants are also given digital-making toolkits to take home so that they can continue working on their digital skills. Some of the items in the toolkit include a coding card game that teaches coding principles, and a pen that allows users to draw items in 3-D.

 
 

Mr Eric Tham, head of group commercial banking at UOB, said: "We have been supporting initiatives that develop young minds, especially those of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We hope that through our support of My Digital Bootcamp, it will encourage these children to explore their interest in technology and to open their minds to the possibilities of digital making."

Mayor of Central Singapore District, Ms Denise Phua, added: "Equipping Singaporeans with skills to navigate the evolving digital landscape is essential. Children are no exception. Regardless of their starting points in life, they too should be given equal opportunities to learn new skills."

My Digital Bootcamp will be progressively rolled out until March next year. More than 10 schools in the Central Singapore district have signed up for the programme, which will be conducted during the post-examination periods and school holidays.