Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific

  • Tech4Good Webinar Series :: Online Collaboration with Microsoft Tools

    Join us for this FREE webinar on "Online Collaboration", Thursday, 17 April 2014, at 12:00 pm (Singapore time).

    Register today!

    Does your nonprofit organisation have multiple branches or locations? Do your staff and volunteers need more flexibility to work remotely when they are away from the office or working from home?
    Join our next Tech4Good webinar when we will explore several Microsoft tools that will enable your staff and volunteers to work remotely or together online in real-time, regardless of where they are based.

    In this webinar, we will demonstrate some online collaboration tools that will benefit your organisation and how these tools can be used to increase productivity, such as:

    We look forward to having you join us for this FREE webinar on Thursday, 17 April 2014, at 12:00 pm (Singapore time).

  • Code – Asia Pacific’s Second Language

    Asia Pacific is a melting pot of a myriad of unique cultures and languages. But the one thing that can hold us together and allow us to communicate seamlessly is the language of code. Code is a language anyone can learn. Pick it up now at www.wespeakcode.net or join us during the Asia Pacific Week of CodePacific Week of Code, launched through Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative, from 21-27 April to find out more. 

  • Incubating High-tech Talent in New Zealand

    This post is part of a series spotlighting Asia Pacific nonprofit organisations that have incorporated a thorough understanding of technology and education into their learning programmes for youth. These organisations attended Microsoft’s Tech4Good Summit (12-13 February 2014) in Singapore.

    In 2012, New Zealand’s high-tech industry contributed more than US$2 billion in exports, and is seen as a promising drive behind the nation’s economic growth. Despite this and having a population of young people ranked among the most tech savvy in the world, Kiwi employers are still struggling to fill positions in the IT sector, attributing this to inadequate skills among candidates.

     Participants with their tools at one of the High Tech Youth Studios

    It is for such opportunities that learning and development nonprofit organisation (NPO) High Tech Youth Network implements skills training for underserved young people in the Oceania region. Their main programmes, the Studio and the Academy, provide training in 3D engineering, animation, robotics and video game development.


    At the six High Tech Youth Studios across New Zealand, young people, ranging from age eight to 25, work closely with volunteer industry mentors, using state-of-the-art facilities that are kitted out with 3D printers, a music recording studio and even a green screen area and film editing studio. Here, participants can also utilise professional software, such as Microsoft Kodu, Adobe Creative Suite and Sony Vegas to learn and create.

    The High Tech Youth Academy, formally launched by Prime Minister John Key and Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand Paul Muckleston, will open its doors to students aged 17 to 24 years old in March 2014 to steer them towards different pathways in the high-tech and creative sector—with a stronger emphasis on current and future technology concepts in hardware, application and creative fields. The Microsoft IT Academy programme will be incorporated in the offerings to link participants to employment opportunities in tech industries.

    imageFilemoni Timoteo, the organisation’s Chief Operating Officer, believes in social-cultural constructivism as the ideal pedagogy. The theory posits that people learn best through doing, allowing participants to construct personal meaning from their experience. “We see our programmes as providing a solid foundation for learning—with flexible parameters,” he said, and added that “the only limits come from the learner’s own ambitions and dreams.”

    To date, Studio members have successfully had their stories selected for the media arts conference biennial Adobe Youth Voices Summit, a week-long gathering of young people and educators from around the world to celebrate the creativity and promise of the next generation.

    “The beauty of technology is that it doesn’t discriminate. It enables anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, who has the access, to create—anything,” said Filemoni.

  • Microsoft YouthSpark – Asia Pacific Week of Code

    Inspired by nonprofit Code.org, we’ve launched the Asia Pacific Week of Code, 21-27 April, through Microsoft’s YouthSpark Initiative. We are promoting the learning of code by inviting everyone, beginners to advanced coders, to do an Hour of Code. Learning to code opens up a world of opportunities. For more information, please visit www.wespeakcode.net.

  • Ex-Domestic Worker Creates Social Network to Help Abused Workers

    Deprivation of access to information and communication, restrictions on movement, underpayment, physical abuse—Filipino IT entrepreneur Myrna Padilla is familiar with these stories. She had heard plenty during the 20 years she herself worked as an “OFW”, or Overseas Filipino Worker, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

    With 10 percent of its population (about 10 million people) working overseas, the Philippines sees many reports of abuse and exploitation each year. Myrna, who now runs her own business process outsourcing company Mynd Consulting in Davao, has been working on the rights of OFWs for many years. Myrna’s work has been supported by a Microsoft Citizenship grant. In addition, to share her knowledge and experience about these issues, she was invited by Microsoft to speak at a 2011 Telecentre.org event in Santiago, Chile, and in 2012 at the 45th ADB Annual Conference in Manila.

    imageHer latest effort is the online portal Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Watch, launched in 2013 to help migrant workers who have gone missing or need emergency assistance. The social network uses Facebook and Twitter to create a network of member OFWs. When an OFW reportedly needs help, messages will be sent to OFWs living in the vicinity, and recommendations will be given on the best course of action they should take, such as visiting the person’s home to check on their well-being.

    To tap on the high mobile penetration rate amongst migrant workers, a mobile app was created, too. It provides information, including listings of all Philippine embassies and consulates and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration legislation on the rights of overseas workers; the information can also be accessed offline. The app comes with a currency convertor, translator and Philippine news. A new version that alerts OFWs when someone near them is in trouble, is being tested.

    Thanks to support from Microsoft Philippines and BizSpark, a Windows version of the mobile app will be launched soon.

    With the sheer number of overseas Filipino domestic workers, Myrna and her team believe the website will raise awareness and mobilise swift action, as well as serve as a prototype for similar tools to empower the 52 million domestic workers worldwide. Myrna also observed that the OFWs volunteering for the site experience higher levels of self-esteem from being engaged in a meaningful project that goes beyond mopping the world’s floors or cleaning the world’s toilets.

    Myrna’s activism started years ago in Hong Kong where she established the Mindanao Hong Kong Workers’ Federation. Even her company is a continuation of those efforts as it hires women to allow them to earn a livelihood near home. She is an advisor for several corporate social responsibility initiatives, including a Microsoft-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration partnership which teaches OFWs basic computer skills.

    Myrna said that migrant workers make up the large majority of human trafficking victims and suffer from much abuse and discrimination, thus she hopes to help them regain dignity and respect for their basic rights. She emphasised, “Migrant workers are not useless or hapless. All they need are tools and opportunities, and they will be able to do something for themselves, and contribute to society.” 

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