The University of South Africa, University College London, MIT, Stanford, and many others have succeeded at getting students enrolled into the right programs while achieving an exemplary degree of student satisfaction due to 4 areas of focus:
- They have prospectuses that break down what is involved in each course they offer, what career opportunities are out there and sometimes, real life examples of individuals that have graduated and gone on to become successful
- They go the extra mile and hold open houses where prospecting students have the opportunity to come and learn more about the courses they are hoping to get enrolled in from lecturers and other faculty staff
- They take time to visit high schools, and sometimes primary schools on career days to discuss career opportunities with pupils and offer career guidance
- They are in touch with the industry and constantly improving their curriculum to meet the industry’s needs
Zambian institutions don’t do any of that. And in an age of technology, one cannot give the excuse “we don’t have the resources to”, because there isn’t much to doing any of the above. Let me elaborate on each a little more:
Why don’t institutions have detailed course descriptions? Visit the Evelyn Hone College, NIPA or even the ZCAS website, and you’ll notice that academic courses are mere lists, without any additional information detailing what the course is about. What if I don’t want to take any course that involves Object oriented Programming, how will I know before the day I receive my class timetable? If, I am interested in networks, how will I know beforehand that an IMIS qualification running at CBU is nothing more than a series of business and management courses with a hint of IT that will have no bearing whatsoever in helping me realize my dream to become an exceptional Network Administrator? I’d urge every college and university to redefine their online presence to give prospecting students all the first-hand information they need to make informed decisions. How many people actually know the difference between Information Technology and Computer Science? Or even Hardware Engineering and Computer Engineering? Yet these titles are synonymously peddled by many institutions.
What’s so complicated about holding an open day and inviting prospecting students? My niece was recently enrolled into Mulungushi University, and during the whole application and registration process, there was no opportunity for her to learn more about this IT degree she’d enrolled in. And therefore she was getting into a course sorely based on what I’d told her and what she’d read from other University websites. What is so complicated about putting together a team of writers that would interview faculty staff and learn all the essential details about each course for the benefit of the masses?
When will colleges and universities start going through schools help pupils start thinking about what they would like to do with their lives? When I was in high school, and this was 2 weeks before I wrote my last exam, I still had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. The only careers I was confident I knew something about were Architecture, Medicine, Teaching and Law. But none of them interested me as much as visual design and tinkering with technology did. If it wasn’t for a seasoned techy reaching out to become my mentor, I would have gone into my second year after high school completely clueless. And there are thousands of young men and women out there that are getting into courses not because they feel it’s where they belong, but because society dictates that “there’s a lot of money in IT” and because colleges and universities are leading with “the average IT specialist earns…”
When was the last time NIPA, Evelyn Hone, UNZA, or any other college for that matter actually updated their IT curriculum? When did any institution even think of taking a reality check on the misleading titles they give to their qualifications? When I was in university, I’d come home, amazed at how my peers were learning LISP and Pascal programming and many other pointless technologies all in the name of Computer Science. To this day, outdated and ineffective curriculums are still prevent, the only things changing are the catchy titles. Is it just about making money off unsuspecting students? For example, what tangible piece of technology have students at any college dangling IT courses offered to the Zambian Masses? Everything from our Operating Systems and browsers all the way through to our productivity tools are foreign and there’s no hint of that changing in the Government’s IT infrastructure, or even in the Banks and schools for that matter, so what are we actually learning to do?