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Central Singapore CDC Runs Inaugural Hackathon in ‘My Digital Bootcamp’ Series, Opportunity for Disadvantaged Kids to Be Future-ready

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SINGAPORE 12 March 2024 – Some 200 primary school students from lower-income families in Singapore’s Central District have just completed their first hackathon, which took place in the third ‘My Digital Bootcamp’ series.

Mayor Denise Phua (extreme Right) and UOB’s Mr Leonard Tan (centre, in jacket) interact with kids at “My Digital Bootcamp”
Mayor Denise Phua (extreme Right) and UOB’s Mr Leonard Tan (centre, in jacket) interact with kids at “My Digital Bootcamp”

Under the guidance of sustainability experts, primary school kids between the ages of 9 and 12 identified relevant climate-related issues and designed solutions using IT skills and upcycled materials.

They were part of the more than 1,000 primary school students from lower-income backgrounds who participated in transformative two-day camps aimed at nurturing digital and soft skills.

Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, said Central Singapore has invested efforts in carefully curating high-quality programmes like these to bridge the digital gap that allow kids from lower income groups to be future-ready.

“In the spirit of lifelong learning, there is the pleasure and the pressure to continue to update skillsets. Given the importance of climate change, this is not a nice-to-do programme but a must-do programme,” she said.

This is one of the initiatives under Central Singapore CDC’s SkillsFuture Junior movement. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are equipped with relevant 21st century skills. This movement complements the long-term national SkillsFuture efforts: To give Singaporeans from all walks of life the opportunity to develop skills relevant for the future.

UOB has donated $1.5 million across three seasons of ‘My Digital Bootcamp’, with $500,000 attributed to Season 3. In Season 3, over 30 employee volunteers from UOB also befriended the students, distributed participation kits and meals, and helped guide the students through their learning.

Mr Leonard Tan, Head of Group CSR, Group Strategic Communications and Brand, UOB said: “UOB is committed to supporting the social development of the communities that we operate in. We are proud to be a longstanding supporter of ‘My Digital Bootcamp’, a programme that helps to develop young minds and build their confidence to thrive in an increasingly digital world. It is a testament to UOB’s promise to do right by our community by equipping children with digital tools and skills and developing them to their full potential.”

This Hackathon event is a culmination of a year-long effort and students competed to develop solutions in four categories:

* Create a linguistic device
* Design smart homes for people with disabilities
* Create an AI device that helps in garbage disposal
* Design fun games to help those like refugees cope with difficult times

One of the trainer-mentors in the programme was Mohd Faisal bin Ali, who had been helping kids for nearly a decade. He has mentored primary and secondary school kids in similar programmes, especially in coaching students to understand climate change and get students to “think” about such solutions.

Commenting on the latest hackathon, he said: “The goal is to help these students incorporate AI to think and address practical challenges.

“I feel blessed to be able to mentor these students because most of them are fast learners. They can quickly understand issues and know how to execute what they have learned from the programme. They are definitely above-average students because they are inquisitive,” he said.

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