27 November 2020

Youths for a Better Digital Future

In light of the accelerated pace for digital transformation in the COVID-19 era, the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) supported a series of digital innovation initiatives aimed to build capacity of ASEAN youth.

Finalists of the Future Ready ASEAN Competition 2020 gathered online and presented data science findings and proposed ideas on how to increase ASEAN’s cultural awareness and understanding.
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Finalists of the Future Ready ASEAN Competition 2020 gathered online and presented data science findings and proposed ideas on how to increase ASEAN’s cultural awareness and understanding.

Finalists of the Future Ready ASEAN Competition 2020 presented data science findings and proposed ideas on how to increase ASEAN's cultural awareness and understanding.

Youth under the age of 35 makes up more than half of the ASEAN bloc today. In a bid to unlock their full potential in this transformative era of digital technologies, the SIF partnered with the ASEAN Foundation on two initiatives that equip youths with relevant skillsets to succeed in a rapidly evolving digital world.

ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme (ADIP)
The SIF supported two components under the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme (ADIP), along with the ASEAN Foundation, Microsoft, Empire Code and UNESCO. The ADIP aims to create a generation of future-ready ASEAN youths through quality digital skills training to stay relevant in the global arena.

The first component was the Online Training on Data Science for Educators and Non-profit Trainers series, held from 28 July to 8 August 2020. The virtual training sessions saw the participation of over 500 teachers and trainers from the non-profit sector. The participants went through introductory learning and hands-on training of data science and programming language Python. Participants were also encouraged to further develop their digital skills via free online courses on the Future Ready ASEAN e-learning platform. Designed to ensure sustainability, the training series enables this pool of young educators to cascade their newly acquired knowledge to their peers and students.

The SIF tapped on its global network of friends to nominate over 135 participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam. One of the participants is Malaysian Claudia Nisha Anthony from Teach For Malaysia, who saw this initiative as a useful way to enhance her digital skillsets. She shared, “I am glad to be part of the ASEAN-wide Online Training on Data Science for Educators and Non-profit Trainers initiative because it offered great insights. Digital literacy is a necessary skill today, especially in this precarious time of the pandemic.”

The training series culminated in the Future Ready ASEAN Competition 2020. Youths across ASEAN submitted data-driven solutions that promote ASEAN’s rich cultural heritage. Out of 70 entries, nine teams representing Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam were shortlisted to compete in the finals.

During the finals, held virtually on 10 October 2020, each team presented data science findings and proposed ideas on how to increase ASEAN’s cultural awareness and understanding to a panel of judges. The winning teams scored highly on creativity, coding structure and data illustration.

The top three teams are:

  • 1st Place: Team from Vietnam for their presentation “Preserving ASEAN Traditional Dances with Data Science”
  • 1st Runner-up: Team from Myanmar for their presentation “How Ramayana Rooted in ASEAN Theatre”
  • 2nd Runner-up: Team from Indonesia for their presentation “Trible: A Mobile App to Listen to Traditional ASEAN Music"

Co-judge Mr Jaryll Chan, SIF Division Director, Programmes, shared, “In a short amount of time, we have seen how digitalisation has enabled and empowered people to connect and build social resilience. The global challenges we face today have also intensified the demand for data science, which can shed light on critical issues and unmet needs. I am thus heartened by our young participants’ future-ready attitude in digital upskilling to build a better world.”

Dr Yang Mee Eng, Executive Director, ASEAN Foundation, said, “We all have the social responsibility to make sure our young people grow up well. Our joint initiatives with Microsoft, Empire Code, UNESCO and the SIF means a lot to us as it provides youth the opportunity to not only gain digital skills, but also the platform to voice their aspirations and be involved in building a stronger ASEAN Community.”

ASEAN Data Science Explorers (ASEAN DSE)
On 18 November 2020, the SIF also supported the regional finals of the ASEAN Data Science Explorers (ASEAN DSE) competition, co-organised by the ASEAN Foundation and SAP. This initiative aims to increase the level of digital literacy among tertiary students and cultivate a greater sense of responsibility and ownership for the future of ASEAN. Upon receiving training to improve their data analytics skills, the young participants were tasked to use their newly acquired skills and insights to create data-driven solutions addressing socioeconomic issues that are aligned with the United National Sustainable Development Goals.

The participants presented their solutions to a panel of judges during a virtual event. The diverse range of issues addressed by youths in the region included social inequalities, looking into and managing new energy sources, mental and physical health, empowering people with disabilities and youth to be active contributors to community and society, and growing ASEAN’s workforce through digital integration.

At the event, co-judge and SIF Executive Director Ms Jean Tan remarked, “The contestants truly inspired me as a judge with their passion, ideas, and proposed actions for a better world.”

Three teams emerged as winners after presenting the strongest proposals, based on their ability to collect, analyse, and present data and the best concept for tackling the issues. They are:

  • 1st Place: Team Catfish from Vietnam for their presentation “People with Disabilities: Unlocking the economic bottleneck”
  • 1st Runner-up: Team Halcyon Seraph from Singapore for their presentation “ASEAN Women-UP Township Network”
  • 2nd Runner-up: Team Psyduck from Brunei for their presentation “Digital Integration – the Key to Growth”