Skip to content

The Education System that keeps Failing the Technology Ecosystem

Posted in Africa, and News

Technology is an enabler for economies all over the world especially for developing economies in Africa countries, and a country’s Education System has a substantial role to play in allowing Technology to grow.

According to the world economic forum, the benefits of technology are numerous including:

Direct job creation: IT has created new industries like Digital Marketing, Data Sciences, Mobile Money ecosystems like agents etc.

In 2013, the global tech market grew by 8%, creating jobs, salaries, and a widening the range of services and products available to the ordinary users

Contribution to GDP growth: Statistics show that a 10% increase in broadband penetration is associated with a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets, these numbers also reflect the use of Mobile money and GDP growth in countries where it has taken off.

This article first appeared on blog.ethelcofie.com, authored by Ethel Cofie, who’s named one of the Top 5 Women impacting IT in Africa and Founder of EDEL Technology Consulting , an IT Consulting and Digital Products Company in West Africa and Europe

The emergence of new services and industries and Workforce transformation: The Internet and Mobile money have created new types of products and transactions along with easier ways of reaching customers and lowering the cost of services.

Education Systems are Failing us

If the fact that Technology is an enabler for economies why are our educational systems failing the very graduates who will usher Ghana into the technology age?

I have interviewed over 100 developers over the last couple years, and honestly, finding a good developer takes 4-6 months (This is horrible for developing any sort of a strong technology ecosystem).

It is even worse when you are looking to hire entry level developers because most of the computer science graduates our universities are churning out are short of the industry standards employers seek.

If we (as a nation) care about using technology to grow the Ghanaian economy, then we must be more concerned about educating the workforce (at the entry level especially) to progress the technology agenda.

Over time it’s much more effective to hire an entry level mathematics graduate or graduates from courses that stress on problem-solving and critical thinking and then have them develop the programming skills in-company.

I write this article from the perspective of a tech entrepreneur, Founder of Women in Tech Africa, someone who has a sibling currently studying for a computer science degree and as someone frustrated with the quality workforce available to Ghanaian technology entrepreneur. 

Ethel Cofie education system
Ethel Cofie, Founder of Women in Tech Africa | source: blog.ethelcofie.com

Tips for You i.e Graduates or Students

This is written to give students or current graduates a road map to help themselves – from my perspective, the educational institutions have woefully failed them. Below are some advice to technology graduates all over Africa, specifically Ghana.

Although it is unfortunate, below is simple truths and advice to technology graduates all over Africa specifically Ghana.

Truth 1: The degree and Internships does not mean much to an employer, frankly I ask for list of projects worked on before a candidate is even progressed to a face to face to interview.

Truth 2: You are not competing only against the classmates you graduated with; you are competing against the 14 year old boy in California who is building software that triggers video recording in his bedroom when the door is open because he is sick and tired of his little brother borrowing all his stuff.

Indeed, he has better access and opportunities than you because your educational system has failed you but the alternative to not competing will only widening the skills divide. Silicon valleys is importing skills from all over hence geography is no longer a stumbling block.

Advice: Donate whatever little skills you have because it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything

The 10,000 hours rule is a concept popularized by Malcom Gladwell in his book outliers stating that the key to achieving world class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours.

Is there an uncle, parent, relative you can work on an IT-related project for, or is there a problem you have that you want to solve? Then donate your skills to solving it.

If you don’t have any of the above, I propose you sign up to become a contributor to an open source project.

The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, “open source” designates a broader set of values—what we call “the open source way.” Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.

Why contribute to an Open source project

  1. As a contributor, you are encouraged to submit additions to the software, code fixes for the software, bug reports, documentation. If it is a good project your contribution will be reviewed by experienced techies from all over the world and yes your initial contributions will be rejected because the quality will probably be bad but if you keep learning and contributing, fairly soon your code will improve.

It will provide you exposure to what good quality work is, in your chosen sphere.

I am more likely to hire you for an entry level if you can demonstrate you care about your career and hence have taken an initiative.

List of 5 recommended Open source projects for Graduates

  • LibreOffice: Founded in 2010, the not-for-profit The Document Foundation (TDF) leads the LibreOffice project, a community-developed free office suite that’s an offshoot of OpenOffice.org
  • PostgreSQL: PostgreSQL is a well-established open source object-relational database system.
  • OpenStack is a free and open-source software platform for cloud computing, mostly deployed as an infrastructure-as-a-service
  • The traditional pen-and-paper way of learning falls short for technical subjects. Games, however, are all about engagement — which is why the founders of CodeCombat went about creating a multiplayer programming game to teach people how to code.
  • Storjis a peer-to-peer cloud storage network that implements end-to-end encryption, enabling users to transfer and share data without reliance on a third party. Based on bitcoin blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols, Storj provides secure, private, and encrypted cloud storage.

Advice: Do yourself a favor and read a book, blog, and article on how to interview…

I have been in far too many interviews where a candidate did not know how to conduct themselves. Everything from turning up late, being rude to my assistant and not reading about the company before they showed up. That’s a big No!

Give yourself the chance to get the job!

Dear graduate, give yourself a chance to succeed and be the very best in your career.

Dear educators and educational Institutions stop failing the generation and preventing Ghana from actually progressing into the information age.