Youth Empowerment to Promote ASEAN’s Culture through Data Science

Since 2019 UNESCO has been supporting the Future Ready ASEAN programme for youth that initiated by ASEAN Foundation, Empire Code, and Microsoft by hosting a national training in Lao PDR and hosting the final Coding Hackathon on face recognition web-interface in their sustainability themed blog at UNESCO Office in Bangkok.

This year the grand finale of Future Ready ASEAN on Data Science Challenges was successfully organized online on 10 October 2020 in collaboration also with Singapore International Foundation. There were nine finalist teams from eight ASEAN Member States selected from 70 entries. The finalists presented their project to promote ASEAN’s culture through Data Science to the judges virtually.

The team from Vietnam, consisting of Nguyen Ngo Hoai Linh, Nguyen Hoang Lam, and Dao Tien Minh, took the first place at the competition. They developed a dancing AI machine to preserve ASEAN traditional dances. The developed AI model is able to recognize the traditional dance performed through video and potential to be further developed to recognize live traditional dancing and become dancing teacher machine. Their works in using data science to develop the innovative AI impressed the jury.

The team from Myanmar, consisting of Myat Min Thu, Aw Thura, and Pyi Soe Hein became the first runner-up for their insightful works on “How Ramayana Rooted in ASEAN Theatre”. Myanmar Team collected data and analysed the relation on Hinduism arrival and Ramayana history and the localisation of the story to each of ASEAN countries.

The team from Indonesia, consisting of Darren Ngoh, Josephine Ceria, and Jonathan Edwin, became the 2nd runner up position for their impressive presentation about “Trible: A Mobile App to Listen to Traditional ASEAN Music”. Their mobile app not only allows the user to enjoy traditional ASEAN music but also offers personalized playlist.

To be eligible to participate in the competition, the finalists were required to complete online courses on programming languages (Power BI and Python), which can be accessed for free at Future Ready ASEAN e-learning platform ( This is to ensure that all participants possess sufficient programming abilities while also encouraging them to improve their digital skills. To this end, UNESCO was supporting the Regional Online Training for non-profit educator and trainer held on 12 September 2020.

“The Future Ready ASEAN online training and competition is a wonderful initiative that supports the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 4 on quality education for all, and Goal 9 on promoting inclusive and sustainable innovation. So, it is very important to remember that data science present tremendous opportunities however we need to stay vigilant of malicious and/or unethical uses. Therefore, UNESCO is fostering the recommendation development on ethics of Artificial Intelligence and UNESCO recommendation on Open Science. The awareness on possible bias and ethical consideration in using data science and AI should be widely promoted. This recommendation serves as a call from UNESCO to be vigilant and make sure no one is left behind,” said Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Jakarta Office.

These activities are contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, especially on Goal 17 (target 17.8 on ICT) and Goal 4 (target 4.5 on eliminating gender disparities in education) and Goal 5 (target 5.B on empowering women in ICT).