KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)’s Digital Ninja program returns, with Forest Interactive Foundation as one of its program partners, managing two accelerator lab sessions for students around Malaysia from September 27 to November 16, 2022.
Eighty students between ages 11 and 16 (Standard 5 to Form 4) were chosen as the Digital Ninjas for this year, and were divided into 17 groups to progress through the program. The Digital Ninjas were solely chosen by MDEC, and the students must participate in any digital technology-based competition from any levels to qualify.
Established by MDEC since 2016, the Digital Ninja program aims to engage Malaysian students throughout their secondary school years. With a goal to develop their tech and digital making skills, as well as hone their communication and soft skills, the Digital Ninja provides students the exposure to innovative thinking, inspiring them to become future change-makers.
For this year’s cohort, Digital Ninjas took part in programs that help develop skills surrounding technology, digital making, critical thinking, leadership, entrepreneurship, communication, and social media.
Digital Ninja Accelerator Lab 1
Held virtually on September 9, 2022, and facilitated by Forest Interactive Foundation, Digital Ninja Accelerator Lab 1 was separated into two sessions, with the first session focusing on social media and creative design. Students were exposed to the technical aspects of social media, as well as the tips and tricks in optimizing Canva. Later, the students were challenged to create a banner in their respective groups; the winner was announced later in University Malaysia Pahang.
For the second session, the main theme was sustainability, with main focus given to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13: Climate Action, touching on circular economy as a core aspect.
Lab 1 was held face-to-face in Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) on September 27, 2022. After the winning banner was announced, students continued to how to plan and produce a video, the different video types, as well as video tips and tricks. They were also tasked to create a 60 to 120-second video in their respective groups.
In the following session, the focus was on team building in the form of a scavenger hunt in Rimba Lestari, the university’s reserved forest. Throughout the 45-minute scavenger hunt, students were required to solve riddles, and were also introduced to tiny bits of the next lab session.
Digital Ninja Accelerator Lab 2
The second lab of the program was held in Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTEM) on November 9, 2022. For Lab 2, students utilized everything they have learned so far and brainstormed an invention to combat climate change, to be presented to the judges. In preparation for the presentation, they also came up with a logo and banner for their product and were briefed on the marketing strategies and tools as well as presentation tips.
Judges on the panel for this year’s cohort were Johary Mustapha, Founder & CEO of Forest Interactive and Forest Interactive Foundation, Hazwan Razak, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), Dr Akbariah Mohd Mahdzir, Head of Intellectual Property & Innovation Management at Malaysia Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) - UTM, Dr Siti Najaa, Assistant Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, Asia School of Business and Mr Daniel Bin Rustam, Finance Manager of Papabrands Sdn Bhd.
Johary Mustapha was also one of the semi-final juries for the presentation. Prior to the completion of Lab 2, he spoke at a fireside chat session, presenting about his journey as an entrepreneur and what students today must do to equip themselves for a career in technology.
“I was very excited to see the inventions that used AI, big data, underwater devices, and so many more. They were very innovative, and I was surprised to see these come out from young kids, as they are able to learn so much from the internet. I was very proud to see what they have achieved,” said Johary, during the judging session.
Azura Abu Bakar, Digital Talent Manager of MDEC’s Digital Talent and Capabilities Division, who also oversees the Digital Ninja program, emphasized the need to nurture young talents for the purpose of their future careers.
“It’s important to encourage young talents to explore more in digital technology so they can support the field,” stated Azura. “With the Digital Ninja program every year, we identify students from different states who have the potential in the technology field and introduce the students to digital technology and leadership skills.” stated Azura.
Johary further affirms that participation from the tech industry, including investment in the youth’s learning by agencies such as MDEC, is crucial in producing tech talents.
“The tech industry is very fast-paced, and we need to work together to ensure the students are in the right path so they can make use of this when they graduate. To empower young talents to contribute to the future of our nation’s digital economy, there needs to be lots of exposure on what we do in tech, and programs like Digital Ninja can expose today’s students to expectations and innovations in the tech industry and market,” elaborated Johary.
After the semi-final presentations, five out of ten groups went to the final stage that was held on November 15, 2022. Three out of five groups were appointed as the winners of the program, with SEED group as the champion, MARIN group as the 1st runner up and PARADOX group as the 2nd runner up.
The program was then wrapped up on November 16, 2022.
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About Forest Interactive Foundation
Founded in 2021, Forest Interactive Foundation aims to nurture and develop talents through sustainable initiatives and programs, establishing empowered communities and upholding sustainable environments for our own people and the world’s future innovators in tech. As the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of Forest Interactive and a UN Global Compact member, we are committed to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the following areas:
- Future Innovators
With the goal of developing future innovators in a fast-changing world, we shape initiatives that can help students prepare for a future where they can thrive with technology, one of it being the #seKODlah program.
We strive to bring our company’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion to the broader community. By harnessing our strengths for social good, we are able to empower marginalized communities in our increasingly connected world.
- Community and Environment
We are committed to sustainable actions and best practices:
- Demonstrate empathy and sensitivity to the needs of others.
- Aim for responsible material inputs that are renewable, recyclable, or reusable.
- Bridge public and private partnerships in support of SDG 17.
- Be a part of the climate accelerator program by implementing SBTi in line with the 1.5°C pathway.
Prior to its establishment, Forest Interactive Foundation, through Forest Interactive, has empowered more than 3500 students and 2,000 people in the communities through more than 38 initiatives. Visit forestcares.org to learn more.