If there is one industry that literally exploded in development in recent years, that industry is information technology (IT).
Just take a look at how much technology is influencing our life nowadays. Facebook, Google and our smartphones are playing a big part in how we live our lives - not to mention the myriad of apps and software we use.
The speed at which the Internet evolves is mind-blowing, not considering the increasing available technology related to artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and robots.
In other words, it is clear that IT is the future - not to mention that the future is here for some time now.
That is why it is increasingly important for everyone to be technologically literate. This means knowing how to use the basic software and gadgets in order to increase productivity and communication.
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It might be even true that someone who is not technologically literate will have a huge disadvantage when it comes to their career and personal development. That is why IT education is very important.
The question is this - how does Malaysia fare when it comes to IT education? After all, Kuala Lumpur is one of the biggest tech hubs and one of the most active start-ups scene in South-East Asia. The very economical and social development of Malaysia may depend on how well the youth will be educated regarding this huge growing trend.
The Malaysian government provides free education on primary and secondary level, summing up to a total of 11 years for each student. Afterwards, if the student is apt and is willing, he can further pursue a college degree or a university degree.
In recent years, IT has become a bigger part of the education with the wide-spread of mobile phones and the Internet. Now students are extensively using the Internet to find answers to pressing questions and they rely less and less on standard classrooms to get educated.
Studies have been yet to be published on the efficacy of the IT education that the Malaysian government provides for its students.
The Internet itself is a very empowering tool for anyone who wishes to use it as such. There are thousands of online courses, many of them free, which can teach you anything - from a foreign language to coding. Courses from the most prestigious universities around the world (including MIT and others) are now available for free, at anyone's disposal.
The challenge now is not having access to information - but properly digesting it and making use of it. With new opportunities come new challenges and this is the case of Malaysian educational system as well. How will it adapt to the growing technological society we are living in? Will it incorporate it in its curricula or will there be a growing gap between them, increasing the friction for its students?
If the government is slow to respond to these changes, maybe the solution will come from somewhere else. This is where NGOs can play their part in empowering ordinary people, especially the more vulnerable social communities.
For example, SOLS 24/7 has a division of Tech. This project managed to donate 5789 digital devices and 2230 full computer sets while reaching a total of 258 organizations. They managed to achieve these outstanding numbers by refurbishing computers and reusing technology.
Their mission is to make technology accessible to everyone, especially the more under-served and poor communities. Thus, they are also offering free technology and IT education to these social groups. By working with Google as one of their Education Partners in Asia and with Microsoft as a Registered Refurbisher, they manage to deliver the highest-quality trainings and gadgets to people who might need them the most.
SOLS Tech is also offering IT maintenance at cost price for NGOs and under-served communities, hence further extending their reach and impact.
It is clear that the booming IT trend is not going to stop anytime soon. The development of Kuala Lumpur to accommodate a very active start-up scene and become a technological hub for South-East Asia is a huge step forward for the Malaysian government to adapt to the increasing demands of the new economical and social realities.
Change is upon us and the best we can do is adapt to it by educating ourselves and learning new skills which accommodate the new digital era.
Becoming more technologically able, empowered by both formal and informal education, should be one of the top priorities of Malaysians.
For more information on SOLS Tech, visit www.sols247.org/sols-tech
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