SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE LAUNCHING CEREMONY OF CODING FOR ALL
2 APRIL 2018
In August last year at this same spot, I launched Code-on-Wheels, an initiative that bring Coding or computer programming workshops directly to students in school. This initiative, a partnership with HPMM, Little Rain Children Trust, ECM Libra Foundation, impacted 4000 students in 40 schools.
Code-on-Wheels is a very good program, because the ability to code is an essential skill that ALL students should have. Why do I say that?
The 4th industrial revolution is upon us. We are in the midst of a data-driven economy. In Silicon Valley, data is king. For us, our challenge is to build up more talent adept in science and technology. Artificial intelligence is coming. Let me give you an example of the power of AI or specifically, machine learning. In March 2016, the 18-time world champion of Go (Weiqi), Mr Lee Sedol, played against a computer, AlphaGo. Unlike Chess, the game of Go is considered impossible for a computer to play because of the enormous permutations.
But, guess what? AlphaGo beat the 18-time world champion, 4-1! This is not the end of the story. About a year later, a modified computer AI program, AlphaGo Zero beat Alpha Go by 100-0! This is how fast technology progresses!
Even more remarkable, when you consider this -It takes decades to train a human to be a world champion. It took 6 weeks for humans to train AlphaGo. It took 3 days for AlphaGo Zero to train itself!
The power of technology is amazing! It can also be scary. Many jobs will be destroyed. In fact, an Oxford University study concludes that 60% of jobs will be destroyed. It is not gloom and doom, because many other jobs will be created too.
So, in the face of rapid technological change, how do we prepare our young for the future? How do we create the future talent pool for our industry in Penang? How do we create a bright future for our young?
As I have said many times, the most important thing any responsible government should do is to prepare our students well for the future. We must equip our students with critical thinking skills, and to be able to think innovatively. We must be a centre of excellence for science and technology. STEM teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the way forward.
We must also equip them with relevant technical skills; and, one of the most important technical skill is the ability to communicate with computers – to analyse data sets, draw insights, create solutions using computers. To do all this, our students must learn to code!
As such, the Penang State Government today is launching the “Coding For All”, a quantum expansion of our Code-on-Wheels initiative. We will be investing a total of RM6 million over the next 3 years in Penang Science Cluster to develop coding skills in our young students in Penang.
Specifically, this RM6 million investment will provide: - training to over 400 teachers in Penang on Scratch, Python and other Computer Science subjects.- provide hardware and course materials to over 100 schools in Penang to enable students to learn line coding and Arduino- free Coding workshops to our community organized by YBs- free Coding workshops to our disadvantaged in our society eg, orphanages.- software competitions for our students to gauge their skills.
All in all, we expect over 120K primary and secondary students or more than 50% of total students in 400 primary and secondary schools in Penang today to benefit from the “Coding-For-All” initiative.
I am proud to announce that Penang is the only state in Malaysia doing this. The State Government is happy and proud to work through Penang Science Cluster to make this happen.
Now, this is only the latest investment that Penang State Government is putting into STEM education. Just 2 weeks ago, we laid the foundation for PDL 2, an expansion of the 1st digital and 24hrs library in Malaysia. We have also the Pg STEM focused on Maths education, Tech Dome, PSDC and @CAT. Collectively, these 6 organisations are championing STEM education for our next generation in Penang.
At this point, I would like to thank all our industry partners who have provided so much support and working with the State to inspire and educate our young. Thank you to you all!
With this, I hereby declare the launch of the “Coding-For-All”.