I want to just let you know that there is now a possibility for me to leave New York City a day later, the night of 23rd. I don’t whether you still have any time slot that day, but there is now a possibility.
Just in case. Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of work in Taipei and Taiwan with the Shin Kong Life Foundation. Two days ago, I was reading a google alert on Taiwan and something just popped up on my email saying that there’s a Taiwanese delegation going to the UN.
I said, "I need to talk to them." Then I spoke to the Shin Kong Life Foundation in Taiwan. I said, "I don’t know if these guys know what we’ve been doing with you." They said, "Oh, my god. Please, we will do everything so you can to meet them." I said, "I’m going to try."
I meet the people in government. They were excited. They really welcome me very, very nicely. I told them i will come back to Taiwan. Two things we discussed. They wanted us to come back in Taipei to meet other partners. Then the second thing they wanted us to do is to help them with our curriculum and computers.
She’s very interested in helping iamtheCODE. We were advise to meet with you. Our advisor said: "Maybe when you speak to the delegation, you can talk to them about how you can develop the curriculum even further with the Taiwanese backup."
I wanted to meet you just to really give you some ideas of how we can work together. We have a very nice plan to...We’re going to be the first organization working with you to bring this into Taiwan. The hackathon was amazing.
We had some young people, some old people. They loved it for two days, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time. Now, everybody wants us to come back. I think this will be very, very good for made in Taiwan, and really focus on the SDGs. I wanted to meet you for that.
Certainly. Before I served in the cabinet as the digital minister two years ago, I am in the K to 12 curriculum development committee. We have a new K to 12 curriculum that’s going to roll out next year, with computational thinking, design thinking, media literacy, critical thinking, and so on as the root of it.
I’ll be very happy to talk over that over breakfast, because I think this is totally in line with the social innovation plan that I’m heading at the moment. We have a four-year, about $300 million USD plan in Taiwan to do basically three things:
First, using SDG as the common index for all the social innovations that’s happening in Taiwan, so that can help. As you said, made in Taiwan. The second thing is then to enlist the university social responsibility programs, the USR programs, as well as the K to 12 new curriculum to make SDG as part of the education curriculum in a very deep way.
Computational thinking, democratization of AI, and so on. The third thing is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now part of the plan, which is why I’m the delegate this year, as opposed to last year. We’ll make sure that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs people will be there as well.
It’s so great. It’s so fantastic. The other thing also we do, you just touched on it, is the pre-21 framework, the 21st century learning skills. We align this with the SDGs now. It’s really fantastic. Also, one of the things we can also look into, I don’t know.
African countries, they really like Taiwan, but it’s a bit of a deep dive. I think content, let’s say we find a way of working together. This content could be spread out across Africa, in the Middle East, and in many, many countries. The reach is massive.
We just partnered with the Duke of York Organisation. We’ve been working with him to develop this amazing platform called idea.org.uk. It is a badge system. It’s very easy to translate in Taiwanese as well. It’s free content. We are their partner and can use the content with you, you can have your own badge, it’s very easy for me to talk to them on your behalf. The content is beautiful. We have a blockchain badge so a young girl or a young boy sitting down in Taipei, in Senegal, or in Brazil can learn about blockchain in about two weeks.
They can even build their own tech solutions. It’s all free. All the content is free. All they need is a little funding to run the activities physically, but also to give this to people. I think, like you said, it’s very timely.
I’m happy to make the connection with them. When you come in London, you can even have Skype with the lady at the Palace. They’re amazing. It’s really great. They’re giving this content to all the commonwealth countries. I don’t know if you know, there are 52.
It’s all free, and so now, we are using this content in our hackathons, boot camps, workshops, breakfasts for businesses, making sure businesses are aligned with the SDGs, and to educate them about them.
Yes. It’s part of the I Am the Code. What happened is, many organizations didn’t have any curriculum, tracks, or challenges. We then designed our own. We’ve been trying to get funding for this for a very long time to actually put it into a very CRM system, a very nice, downloadable place.
Many of them participated in the One Laptop Per Child program, way back when. The collaborative spreadsheet in the one OLPC XO, called SocialCalc, I personally contributed. We were very in line with the work that you’re doing.
The One Laptop Per Child hasn’t been popular enough. It’s actually very dead now in many, many countries. What we did is we learned from the mistakes of all these organization in the past. When they came to Africa and many marginalized communities...
Then they wasted a lot of money in government, because the African government, you guys are so advanced compared to us. They didn’t understand that actually, you need to have a very clear curriculum of content, the teachers, and the community, so they failed.
Then I went to many African countries. I saw the laptop being piled up in places. I was so sad. Then I came back home. I said, "OK, I’m going to do something." I didn’t go to school. I personally had to teach myself how to code seven languages myself.
Then I decided to use the skills, the way I learned. I designed my own learning. Then decided that we’re going to do something very cheap, very simple for everybody around the world. You can learn how to code from Nepal to Afghanistan very easily.
The next phase for me right now is to, because I’ve been working on the UN issues for over 15 years now. MDGs. I supported Kofi Annan for 3 years on climate change and adaptation. I also supported the SDGs task force and focused on engagement for marginalized communities.
I didn’t want the SDGs to be just like a high level thing at the UN. How do we get young girls from Senegal, from Taipei, from all around the world, to participate in the conversation advancing the SDGs?
Taiwan was in my mind and I was honoured to be invited by the Shin Kong Life Foundation. They sponsor the hackathon and paid for my travel to come. They were really impressed. They showed all the work to their board. They were all happy.
It will be made in Taiwan, but at the same time, being used all around the world. We will be the first team to do this. I wanted to give that opportunity to Taiwan. Mrs. Wu, she’s a very nice lady. She’s been pushing and helping us to make sure this is made in Taiwan. She likes Taiwan. [laughs]
Thank you for the context and background. I think we’re very, very much aligned in the work that we’re doing. Concretely speaking, I have a column in the Business Weekly magazine in Taiwan where we use to raise awareness on various social innovations.
We have previously raised awareness on another open coding platform, the MIT Media Lab self-driving tricycles. They are self-driving cars, but actually, tricycles are very safe. We also did hackathons in the social innovation lab.
I agree. No, it’s fantastic. When I went to the National Institute of Technology, it was like my mind blew. I wanted to stay there so much. I was like, "Oh, my god. This is the right place." I was so excited. I met lots of entrepreneurs working on 3D printing, they took my 3D image. It was cool.
My meeting, including face-to-face meetings, usually have a condition of what we call radical transparency, meaning that we will make a transcript of our conversation. You can edit it for 10 days afterwards, after which we publish it to the Internet.