Why tech industry-relevant courses should be taught in African universities

by | Sep 4, 2017

There’s an ongoing debate on whether or not it’s right to drop out of school to either pursue a startup dream or learn at one. The fact that tertiary institutions do not necessarily give the practical knowledge needed to pursue relevant careers is enough justification for this. And it’s been stamped by many successful people today,  among which are Mark Zuckerberg, Seun Osewa, Elon Musk — who abandoned a PhD to pursue SpaceX, — to mention few.

Inarguably, traditional education mostly churns out “unemployable graduates”. As a result, some private organisations in Nigeria have taken it upon themselves to fill the void schools leave by equipping graduates — at different careers — with practical post-tertiary training and skills necessary for employability. In the IT sector, we have the likes of MoatAcademy, Switch, Basecode, Andela, and many others.

Unfortunately,  it turns out we cannot say more for fellow African nations — a lot of African Universities do not teach courses and skills relevant to the current digital age. This probably contributes to why tech giants like Google, Microsoft are also contributing their quota to equip African countries with skills relevant to the digital age.

However, recently, there appears to be a modicum of change in this trend; a University in South Africa recently listed Fintech as one of its study courses, making it the first of such in the continent.

TechBullion further reports:

University of Cape Town (UCT) Fintech degree graduates are expected to gain the requisite skills in Blockchain technology and machine learning. In particular, at the end of the course, students are expected to have a mastery of machine learning methods and be able to develop their own applications.

Asides that this is quite remarkable, it heightens expectations on the outcome of a possible broader adoption. Here’s the scenario; what if we have more African Universities take on more ” tech startup-related courses” like Edtech, eCommerce, Agritech, Socialtech, Big Data and the list goes on — in addition to Fintech? The trend of dropping out of traditional education, to pursue relevant skills in a startup, might be brought to the barest minimum. And this way, we’d have more graduates really getting the proper education, plus it also aligns African universities to suit the modern age — apparently, a lot of them are still struggling to be in the 21st century.

While the struggles to better tertiary education in Africa persist, a more recent motivation from China could help rouse a sense of urgency. As a matter of fact, China is looking to set up AI-related and coding courses in primary and secondary schools. Obviously, the Asian country is keen on keeping up with the digital age and it’s not cutting out its younger generation.

For African universities, the call-to-action here could be seeking ways to emulate what’s already done at UCT and being swift about it.

Girl ... with a pen. Content Creator.

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