NORAD, Clarke University partner for Shs 12bn ICT project

Over 2000 students with a bias  in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) background are set to benefit from an ICT industrial training starting 2019.

The program shall be conducted at the Applied ICT academy of Clarke International University in Munyonyo starting in March 2019 with a total of 30 students.

The four-year program targets students who can demonstrate passion and basic software development project to bridge the gap between what schools and Universities teach and what employers need.

The program is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation –NORAD, a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has committed NOK 16.4 million (Shs 7.1 billion).

The Program Associate of the Applied ICT academy of the University, Michael Niyitegeka told journalists that the University is working with industry partners like Microsoft to equip students with the relevant skills during the three phased training.

“Students will be admitted into the Accelerated Learning Course (ALC), a focused three-month program that includes training in leadership, critical thinking, IT project management, as well as introductions to different technologies. The most accomplished go on to a six-month immersive boot camp, where a key component is practical learning through projects with industry partners. The academy will be followed by the Last Mile Training (LMT), a program that gives the most capable-graduates the opportunity to work at an elite ICT company for 6-12 months. The graduates will work on live client projects with close guidance from senior software developers,” said Niyitegeka.

Bram Van Den Bosch, the managing director of Laboremus Uganda Ltd – an ICT company says that while a number of students have graduated with degrees in ICT, many lack the skills like lack critical thinking capacity, proper software development skills and lack exposure to different technologies needed by employers.

He said, while students could have talent and passion, they need to acquire proper training which he says is missing in our institutions mostly because of limited exposure to technologies by tutors.

“When it comes to the hard skill training, it is really understanding the fundamentals of technology, how it developed and what are the new technologies; the problem with hard skill here is that Uganda has not traditionally had a strong IT industry, it is only just recent when IT companies started opening it here. You can see it in the expertise available which is mostly professors in the universities who are in 50s or 60s,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor of Clarke International University Dr. Rose Clarke Nanyonga says that the program’s uniqueness lies in the collaboration they have industrial partners.

“The program is not actually run by academicians who honor the traditional academic approach to learning and teaching. It is actually that marriage, that he (the employer in the industry) is demanding that this individual needs to think. And we are not sure what it is that we are missing in the traditional approach of teaching. So we are bringing him (the expert in the industry) in the class room to partner with us,” said Nanyonga.

The overall budget for the academy is NOK 30 million (Shs 12.9 billion). The program is costed at Shs 2.5 million but students will have to contribute 20% about Shs 500,000 as a commitment to the program and the 80% shall be funded through the Norwegian fund.