Microsoft collaborates with universities to improve their curriculum and facilitate direct hiring

Microsoft collaborates with universities to improve their curriculum and facilitate direct hiring

Microsoft’s engineering arm, the Africa Development Centre is announcing a collaboration with Kenyan technology universities to review their curriculums and make them more relevant to industry needs as the centre ramps up its digital skilling efforts in the country.

As part of the program, Microsoft ADC has partnered with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to review its Computer Science degree program. The curriculum review program will also be extended to other universities in Kenya that have expressed interest, and across Africa.

The initiative is part of the ADC’s larger agenda to contribute to the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa. Which aims to harness digital technologies and innovation to transform African societies and economies by 2030. The initiative also aims to address identified skill gaps in software engineering students during technical interviews, particularly in software engineering fundamentals. It also fits into the Kenyan government’s Digital Superhighway plan, which aims to put the country on the path to becoming the world’s digital workforce.

The ADC is running multiple initiatives to improve the tech talent pipeline starting from primary school all the way to working to improve the skills of practicing professionals. As part of the skilling drive, the ADC is looking to improve tech-based curricula within local institutions of higher learning so as to reduce the skills gap between classrooms and the workplace,” says Irene Githinji, the ADC’s Student & Education Engagement Program Manager.

Microsoft ADC working with Kenyan universities

Microsoft says, while players in the technology sector are constantly on the lookout for new talent, they are frequently unable to hire directly from universities because students are mostly armed with theoretical knowledge at the expense of much-needed application skills in software engineering fundamentals. Also noting, a need has been identified to transition from paper examination to online assessment, as most students have never sat for coding exams via online assessment, as evidenced when they sit for the ADC’s coding interviews.

Students pursuing STEM-related courses will benefit from the new curriculum because they will have access to updated resources, courses, and assessments. Additionally, updated curriculums with industry input will help students gain hands-on tech skills that will be useful throughout their tech careers,” adds Githinji.

Dr. Michael Kimwele, Director, School of Computing and Information Technology at JKUAT notes that the curriculum review partnership is not a first for Microsoft and JKUAT.

Our collaboration with Microsoft has, over the years, helped to develop potential career pathways for students and enabled the institution to access more teaching resources. We have received industry feedback and guidance on our curriculum which has helped us to improve our teaching methods and content. The collaboration has also exposed our students to real-time industry jobs. For example, many students involved in incubator projects are often offered a role within the company after their graduation since they have had time to adjust to the company culture,” says Dr. Kimwele.

The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa aims to provide a massive online e-skills development program to 100 million Africans per year by 2021, and 300 million per year by 2025, to provide basic knowledge and skills in digital security and privacy. The initiative is led and owned by African institutions and is intended to be embedded in African realities while unleashing the African spirit of enterprise and creativity to generate homegrown digital content and solutions while embracing what is good and relevant.

We are also working closely with the government and the private sector to expand access to digital skills training across Africa, and some of our initiatives are already reaching out to schools to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. The initiatives range from coding classes for young children and teaching basic computer skills to underprivileged individuals to highly technical learning opportunities such as the Game Of Learners hackathon, which helps university students fine-tune their skills by building real-world solutions under the supervision of industry professionals,” Githinji explained.

Githinji also emphasized the need to refine the quality of technology education in universities in order to better prepare students for a digitally enabled future.

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Microsoft, University of Pretoria, Future Africa Campus launch Policy Innovation Center

Microsoft, University of Pretoria, Future Africa Campus launch Policy Innovation Center

Future Africa Campus

Microsoft opens second Africa Policy Innovation Center in South Africa. At the Future Africa Campus, University of Pretoria.

Microsoft opens second Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) in Africa. In partnership with the University of Pretoria and the South Africa Department of Science and Technology. The Policy Innovation Centre will be housed at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus in Pretoria. In 2017 Microsoft partnered with Strathmore University, Kenya, to launch the first policy innovation center in Africa.

Microsoft says the PIC will be at the forefront of dialogue around how to embrace Digital Transformation. Also the role Artificial Intelligence can play to help the region thrive within the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The center will bring together stakeholders to develop innovative policy dialogue across various industries.

Lillian Barnard, General Manager Microsoft South Africa gave the welcome address at Future Africa Campus event. She said; “We are proud to partner with the University of Pretoria and the Department of Science and Technology to drive conversation around the different policies to help protect all users“.

Dr. Phil Mjwara, South Africa’s Director-General of Science and Technology gave the keynote address during the launch event. He said
One of the key roles of government is to create a climate in which individuals, businesses and other social institutions could thrive. This includes creating an enabling legislative, policy or regulatory framework for the development of new innovative technologies and services“.

Mike Yeh General Counsel, Microsoft, during the opening ceremony of the Policy Innovation Center said Microsoft always approached technology holistically.

He said “At Microsoft we have been talking for some years about the democratization of technology. How do we ensure that as the world advances and advanced technology becomes incorporated in everyday lives, that everyone is able to benefit?
There is clearly a need and opportunity to figure out how to modernise those regulations in a way that is responsible. Bouncing out the potential benefits of technology, ensuring that the data remains private and that customers can control that data

We see many opportunities and challenges on how to get the regulatory environment correct. We look forward to working with the University of Pretoria and government to really bring people together. To drive the conversation and ultimately find the solutions to ensure that technology is used fairly and for good”.