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Singapore’s Girls' Brigade learns tech skills to improve community service

A recent report noted that Girls' Brigade Singapore (GBS) members, in addition to singing and dancing, will now be teaching the disadvantaged individuals how to use a voice-enabled device programmed by them.

GBS partnered Amazon Web Services (AWS) to conduct eight-hour, instructor-led workshops on cloud computing and coding skills, among other things, for members as part of their curriculum. The collaboration seeks to equip the approximately 3,600 members with cloud computing education to enable them to develop technology solutions that will better serve the members of their communities. This was a part of the event that took place on 14 July 2018 - the GB Friendship Day 2018 wherein the girls demonstrated their new skills at the Girls Brigade Friendship Day 2018, which was attended by Singapore’s President, Halimah Yacob.

With a tagline that reads ‘Two Hands, One Heart’, The Girls’ Brigade Friendship Day (GBFD) started in 2011 with the aim of establishing a national platform for members of GBS to collectively serve special segments in the community by befriending the Lonely, Elderly, Needy and those with Special Needs (LENS). It has since been an annual national project for the organization, allowing members of GBS to touch the lives of almost 12,000 LENS over the past seven years. 2018 is the 8th edition of GB Friendship Day.

This year GBFD had an additional track of technology enabling service called D-Serve (Digital Serve). Equipping members with the new skills is part of the GBS initiative to inspire them to contribute more effectively to the community.

Brigade commissioner Evangeline Chong said: "We are pleased to be partnering the various digital and education institutions to align GBS with the national movement of being a smart nation by leveraging on technology to improve our service, being digitally ready for the future of the work and equipping our girls with new and relevant skills."

In the workshops, the members learned to program commands into Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant Alexa.

Joyce Tan, 13, a Secondary 2 student at Fajar Secondary School and a GBS member who underwent the training, said: "It is very important to learn about technology as it makes life easier for a lot of people. We programmed Alexa to switch the lights on and off. (Those in need) can use just their voice to switch off the lights instead of walking to the switch."

Girls’ Brigade Singapore also partnered with Temasek Polytechnic, Girls in Tech Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority to teach its members some technological skills.

Mr Vincent Quah, AWS regional head of education for Asia Pacific and Japan, said: "By empowering the younger generation with cloud-computing skills, we build a future-ready workforce that is critical for Singapore's economic growth as the nation strives towards an innovation-driven economy."

Girls Brigade Singapore was officiated in 1968 and aims to establish a GB company in every Singapore school with girls and a GB presence in every country in Asia, by 2027; bringing with similar initiatives to D-Serve.

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