According to the Kenya National ICT Master plan, Kenya aims to have sustainable, local high end ICT skills to meet the needs of the industry with an ICT literate population capable of exploiting ICT products and services for improved quality of life by 2017. The government has undertaking a variety of projects for example the President Digital Talent program with the aim of increasing human capacity in terms of ICT skills. The private sector has also taken up that role with organizations like Samsung equipping technical students with hands-on skills, outside those taught in academia.
More and more companies and organization are stepping up to the task and doing a wide range of things, geared towards equipping young people with skills that our education system fails to do. Head of Marketing and Communications at United States International University (USIU), Jane Muriithi- Thomas quoted a UK research that found out that 75% of the population see the need to understand where technology comes from, hence the need for programs like the Innovation Boot Camp organized by Tech Republic Africa.
Tech Republic Africa together with partners USIU, Intel and Google has taken up the responsibility of introducing computer technology to children from a young age. According to Amanda Gicharu, a co-founder, children are exposed to computers at a very late stage and if Africa wants to compete at a global level in terms of technology, then children should be exposed at an earlier age. She said that Africa’s youth have high potential in terms of innovation but generally lack exposure to education centered around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and computer skills.
Collaborating with their partners, they have come up with a curriculum meant to teach children between the age of 12-19 about various aspects of computer science and technology with the aim of demystifying the essence of computer technology. Packaged in a variety of modules which kids these days are interested in, from music and sound, arts, gaming design and fashion, the holiday boot camp will run for 5 days, between August 24th-28th. During the camp, the kids will be engaged in hands-on exercises, inspirational talks by experts, presentations and of course, fun-filled activities utilizing their skills and talent.
70 students have enrolled for this week’s camp. The curriculum is web-based allowing each student to learn at their own pace and still be monitored on their projects, even after leaving the boot camp. Further follow-up is done through IT clubs in schools, where the students are required to put in at least an hour of work in a week during the school term up until they enroll for the second phase during the next camp.
These innovation camps will be happening twice a year, during the April and August holidays.Tech Republic Africa aims to move outside Nairobi a year from now and eventually across Africa, empowering more and more children with computer skills and potentially producing our own Mark Zuckerberg.