IBM pilots project to prep students for job market

computerlab Frerieke flickrIBM Research Africa and KENET will enhance the skills of students, making them more desirable for quality jobs. (Image source: Frerieke/Flickr)IBM Research Africa has initiated a US$60mn skills programme to improve the level of training imparted to technology and engineering students

The skills are expected to aid the students to enter the job market, and make them more competent. Working in partnership with the Kenya Education Network (KENET), IBM will beam out courses on a universal cloud in more than 50 universities and polytechnics in Kenya.

“The cloud system is hosted by Nairobi University and managed by KENET. It can be accessed free of charge by computer science, information technology and engineering students across the country,” said KENET executive director Meoli Kashorda during the launch of the programme.

IBM will leverage KENET's existing broadband infrastructure in all the 57 campus sites with faculty members and students trained on additional skills such as cyber-security, mobile education and business analytics.

“Access to IBM platforms and software by students will prepare them for the job market. Lecturers will also have the opportunity to work globally due to exposure to global curriculum,” said IBM East Africa University relations country director John Baptista Matogo.

While setting up shop in Kenya two years ago, the USA technology firm promised to invest a significant portion of its US$6.5bn on training. Currently, at least 8,000 IT students in Kenyan universities have benefit from these training programmes.

Across the African continent, 13 universities, more than 1,000 students and 100 lecturers are also benefiting from this programme, mainly in Nigeria and Tunisia.

“We need the right people with the right skills as the economy grows. This project will supplement the government’s digital literacy programme,” observed Kenya’s Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. He added that the IBM cloud would also benefit universities in South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

The government plans to roll out the laptop project for primary schools in the coming year. It also plans to develop digital content, build teachers’ capacity and build computer laboratories in primary schools.

At least 60,000 primary school teachers will be trained for them to disseminate the information to their learners.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has digitised content in seven subjects for Class 1–3 and is piloting it in selected schools in readiness for the roll-out. To roll out the laptop programme effectively, the government has connected 12,000 primary schools to the national power grid.

Mwangi Mumero

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