COMPUTING

Kenya: Computer courses to become compulsory in middle level colleges

Knowledge of computers is to become compulsory for students aspiring to join the government's tertiary training institutions.

A baseline survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education in the 47 mid-level colleges in the country shows that 80 per cent of students, lecturers and administrators in the institutions are not computer proficient.

The survey further notes that studies in computers will be offered during the first year of learning, regardless of the course that one will be pursuing in colleges.

"A curriculum is to be developed for all entry level students to ensure they acquire good foundation computer skills," the government report says, adding that where already offered, the curriculum is to be revised.

This means that more than 18,000 students currently enrolled in the institutions that include polytechnics, university colleges, technical training institutes and institutes of technology may undergo refresher courses in computers.

Findings from the baseline indicate that the institutions do not have a formal computers policy. Of the few institutions, only a fifth have developed computers work plans and have made budget allocations.

Although a high level of confidence has been registered in the relevance of existing computers policies, respondents cast doubt on institutional capacity for policy implementation.

"The ministry will explore globally recognised options or other internationally certifiable computer courses that are aligned to the job market and for which students will earn additional certifications," the report says.

The findings that are yet to be made official to the colleges say the curriculum is not in-step with job market requirements.

Lecturers are aware of the potential of computers to enrich teaching practices, but have neither the skills nor the access to computers to integrate the new tools and methodologies in curriculum.

The survey was conducted starting last year and the aim was to assess computer proficiency in the colleges at a time that Kenya is working towards becoming a middle income economy and eventually a knowledge society by implementing its developmental blueprint -- Vision 2030.

In the new order, course schedules will be reviewed to allow for the acquisition of computer skills. "Additional attention needs to be given to ensure that adequate time is built into class schedules to accommodate this," says the report.

The registered frequency of use of computers in teaching practice was rated poorly. "This is partly due to low computer (knowledge) among lecturers since the art of teaching and learning through and with computers is largely driven by individuals rather than institutional policy."

The report therefore recommends a review in the curriculum at the teacher training institutions.

Access to tools and resources at the institutions should also be planned. "The complexity of integrating computers in education demands careful planning and execution," says the report.

Specialised computer skills are required in the work place for production and communication, and are seen as an essential complement to traditional content knowledge, in courses such as engineering, science, and accounting.

This, according to the report calls for systemic collection and analysis of data on the level of computers use in the institutions.

Most of the students expressed concerns that both the curriculum and assessment systems were outmoded.

Secondary school leavers who do not proceed to university directly join the colleges for two year craft courses or three year diploma (technician) courses.

And primary school leavers who do not join secondary school may join the many youth polytechnics which are also considered tertiary institutions.

National polytechnics, technical teachers colleges, institutes of technology, technical training institutes, industrial training centres, youth polytechnics, vocational training centres and other private commercial colleges shall be affected by this new plan.

There has been an upgrading of the institutions to universities of technology but there is also the upgrading of youth polytechnics to technical institutions.

Source: The Nation

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