The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region marks a transformative era. It’s anticipated to add a staggering USD 1 trillion to the region’s GDP by 2030. This surge underscores the critical need to equip the workforce with skills to navigate and excel in the AI-driven landscape.
AI TEACH for ASEAN: A Pioneering Initiative
In response, the ASEAN Foundation and Microsoft have launched the AI TEACH for ASEAN programme. This initiative is a strategic step toward reshaping the technological future of the region, with a focus on AI proficiency as a key component for success. It embodies a collaborative effort, uniting local nonprofits, workforce institutions, and governments to enhance the employment and educational prospects for individuals keen on upskilling in AI.
Empowering Educators with AI Fluency
A significant aspect of the programme is the AI Fluency training for 6,200 Technology Vocational Education and Training (TVET) educators, primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia. Leveraging the Microsoft AI Trainer Toolkit, the initiative not only empowers educators to impart AI knowledge but also integrates Microsoft and LinkedIn Career Essentials in Generative AI into their teaching, thus preparing students with vital skills for successful course completion and certification.
Dr. Piti Srisangnam’s Vision for ASEAN’s Technological Advancement
Dr. Piti Srisangnam, the Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation, enthusiastically supports this partnership. He emphasizes its alignment with the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, highlighting the programme’s potential to empower the youth, enhance their skillsets, and position them as drivers of regional progress. By fostering innovation and practical AI skills, the programme aims to contribute significantly to the economic and technological growth of ASEAN.
Targeted Impact: Transforming Employment and Education in Indonesia and Malaysia
The AI TEACH for ASEAN programme’s ultimate objective is to enhance the employment and education prospects for 400,000 individuals in Indonesia and Malaysia. It seeks to bring positive changes to the TVET system by aligning AI skilling with evolving industry demands.
Key Activities and Collaborative Efforts
The programme involves several critical activities, starting with training-of-trainers for TVET teachers across ten ASEAN countries. This includes collaborations with the Senior Officials Meeting on Education and the ASEAN Secretariat to ensure government support. In Indonesia and Malaysia, trained TVET trainers will impart AI skills to students, supported by MOUs with TVETs. Additionally, country-level hackathons in Indonesia and Malaysia, culminating in a regional hackathon in Indonesia, are planned to encourage trainers to integrate Generative AI in teaching. A regional TVET policy-roundtable on AI skilling will also be convened to facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices among policymakers, AI experts, and nonprofits.
Microsoft’s Commitment to the ASEAN AI Skilling Initiative
Andrea Della Mattea, President of Microsoft in ASEAN, expresses her excitement about the collaboration. She emphasizes Microsoft’s commitment to closing the skills gap, providing success opportunities, fostering inclusive economic growth, and empowering tomorrow’s entrepreneurs today.
Localized Approach for Effective Implementation
The ASEAN Foundation, in partnership with Microsoft, will oversee the AI TEACH programmes’ implementation in Indonesia and Malaysia. These will be led by Yayasan Plan International Indonesia and Biji-biji Initiative, respectively, adopting a localized approach to meet each country’s unique needs and contexts.
The ASEAN Foundation’s Role and Vision
Founded in Jakarta, Indonesia, at ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 15 December 1997, the ASEAN Foundation was established by ASEAN leaders to address concerns about insufficient shared prosperity and awareness among the ASEAN populace. The Foundation, an entity born from and for the people of ASEAN, is tasked with promoting awareness, identity, interaction, and development among the ASEAN people. It aims to build a cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community, supporting ASEAN primarily in its developmental and awareness-promoting endeavors.
The AI TEACH for ASEAN programme represents a significant milestone in the region’s journey towards a technologically advanced future. It not only aims to upskill a vast number of educators and students but also endeavors to create a ripple effect across the region’s workforce, thereby contributing to sustainable economic growth and technological innovation. As ASEAN continues to evolve in the digital age, such initiatives will play a crucial role in shaping the future, ensuring that the region remains at the forefront of the global technological landscape.
Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT