Cisco opens 5th academy in Botswana

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Cisco Systems has opened its 5th Cisco Academy in Botswana, with online curricula, virtual learning tools, instruction support as well as teacher training and professional development opportunities.

Gratitude Kudyachete, Cisco’s Regional support Centre Manager explained that Cisco was willing to do business with Botswana so as to impart more techno-savvy solutions to local problems.  “It is against such a background that, we are witnessing the Cisco Academy programme being expanded in Botswana. Cisco Systems, a US-based Corporation, arguably the biggest Network and Communications equipment and solutions vendor, conceived the Cisco Academy programme to share its abundant intellectual capital in Computer Networking. It started in 1997 in high schools but now finds itself anchored in secondary and post-secondary schools, colleges, universities, and community-based organizations in more than 165 countries.”

Kudyachete said the programme is essentially philanthropic and besides being used in continuing education for professionals, its major focus is the disadvantaged communities who may not access or use ICT owing to costs, lack of accessibility and infrastructure among other factors.

He added that the Cisco Academy programme has found itself being employed in prisons, institutions offor the disabled including the deaf, and slum areas.

He observed that if only Botswana was to improve her ICT status, the country would be a force to reckon with. “Besides the great initiatives, some of the challenges evident in the Botswana ICT landscape are; low ICT use, high cost of ICT services, low IT literacy rate, unemployment of IT graduates and low Network Readiness. In the Cisco Academy, we believe that Botswana needs a multi-pronged approach to the challenges that it is facing."

The Cisco Academy programme helps address some of these challenges as it offers the following benefits: free curricula embedded with technology tools for teaching and learning, wide curricula – with courses from basic PC maintenance, entry level networking to advanced networking. Rich practical component – at the core of the Programme is the emphasis on laboratory practices with real equipment to give sough-after practical skills, Discounted equipment – Equipment is discounted at 75% making it affordable to many educational institutions. Alignment with industry certifications – makes the students even more marketable as they will have global attestation to their achievements. Flexibility in academic programmes- Besides running as standalone programme for professionals in industry, the programme can be tightly integrated in higher education in engineering, computer science, information systems, and related fields”

“Botswana will now have five Cisco Academies, which we hope will all be active by end of first quarter this year. The only active academy has been the University of Botswana from which about 2500 students have been trained since 2008 and for us this figure is too low, we need more throughput, we need more academies,” he implored.

On the issue of Botswana Accountancy College roping in the services of Cisco, Kudyachete said the Cisco Academy programme is there to service and add impetus to the current initiatives within BAC and those at national level.

“The Centre has been aptly called BAC ICT Skills Centre – to address the ICT Skills challenge which is akin to fighting a moving target; BAC will be able to enhance the marketability of their end product- the student who will be able to slot in into the job market right from graduation. BAC will be able to use the Cisco academy for its own professional development of staff members so that they are always abreast of developments in networking and internet technologies. It will also empower some students to be entrepreneurs who will generate jobs. BAC can partner with other ICT players and expand the service portfolio of your community access centres; indeed the programme can be used for a variety of community engagement programmes."

According to president Jammeh of Gambia – “no nation can record meaningful growth without embracing ICT. ICT empowers one to do what they want to do, As BAC and as a nation you have as one of those tools the Cisco Networking academy."

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