Stay foolish, stay hungry (part I)

It’s nothing new when I say that only quality education will usher into Rwanda great opportunities and a competitive workforce as well as work environment.unfortunately, in the context of technology education, we have leaps and bounds to come to level with being the ICT hub we aspire to be.
Alline Akintore
Alline Akintore

It’s nothing new when I say that only quality education will usher into Rwanda great opportunities and a competitive workforce as well as work environment.unfortunately, in the context of technology education, we have leaps and bounds to come to level with being the ICT hub we aspire to be.

However, by no means is all hope lost! In fact it is only the beginning; the new campus opened in Kigali by Carnegie Mellon University is just one indicator that we are heading in the right direction in terms of creating a skilled tech workforce.

The program will be a breeding ground for entrepreneurial tech ventures that will penetrate the ICT fabric of Rwanda and the region and spur innovation which is precisely what we need.

This is not enough though… when will Rwanda see the day that, for example, Samsung Electronics will build an Engineering Academy on our soil ?

In my article ‘Rwanda, Africa’s next Silicon Valley?’ I highlight the fact that Silicon Valley would not be what it is without Stanford University and UC Berkeley and I reiterate the point today! (Kigali’s ICT park could pick a leaf)

At the end of the day, the priority should be to educate engineers because engineers come up with ideas and ideas beget companies. Well, the rest you can count in Rwandan francs…

But without having to jump ahead to tertiary education, there is something I find ironic about banning cell phones the students!

Africa has the fastest growth rate in mobile phones among all continents (estimated 50%); we should be handing out free cell phones in schools.

Putting the tools in students’ hands and encouraging innovation-App development competitions, for example, would ignite interest in software development at an early stage as opposed to students waiting for day one at university to know what programming is all about.

Cell phones are cheap and if the past five years have taught us anything, it is that the traditional computer is shrinking to palm-size and the practical uses it offers are seemingly limitless.

Last week, The New York Times ran an article about a University (story by Pascal Zachary, Dec 5, 2011) that is training a team of Ugandan computer scientists in a hitherto untouched field-Artificial Intelligence.

Computer Science is a practical programme especially in underfinanced institutions because it is software-oriented which is relatively inexpensive.

The department is run by a Ugandan trained in Norway who uses his connections from Europe to pool resources and offer summer opportunities to graduate students in those countries to come join his team and share what they know.

What opportunities and incentives can be extended to well-trained Rwandans all over the world to bring their expertise and resources back home?

To be continued.

akintore@gmail.com

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