Microsoft ADC revamps computing curriculum at Kenyan varsity

Following a review by Microsoft ADC Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is adding emerging tech and UI design courses.

Microsoft ADC revamps computing curriculum at Kenyan varsity
Catherine Muraga, MD at Microsoft ADC Kenya and the faculty at JKUAT 

In partnership with the Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC), the Kenyan government through the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has reviewed the curriculum of the university's department of computing to match the ongoing digital transformation.

JKUAT has included Applied Machine Learning, Virtual Reality, Quantum Computing and User Experience Design into its computing courses. "We look forward to providing our students with best-in-class education that integrates practical skills building and theoretical understanding as they prepare for success in the technology industry," Lawrence Nderu, JKUAT's computing department chair, said.

The new curriculum will impact the delivery of 128 units within the university's computing courses. According to Nderu "the review process has been extensive, with invaluable insights and recommendations from experienced industry experts that will add significant value to classroom instruction."

In 2022, the Kenyan government launched a National Digital Master Plan[pdf] to enable its digital growth. One of the 19 flagship programmes of the plan was to accelerate the integration of technology in teaching and learning in all learning institutions. Another one was focused on digital literacy capacity building for 20 million citizens; including IT professionals, teachers, civil servants and students.

Last year, Kenya announced the introduction of coding as a subject of study within the official curricula for primary and secondary schools. "This, no doubt, will enhance employment creation, enable and scale up ICT innovation and the development of a dynamic and robust ICT sector that will enhance the growth of all sectors of our economy," Kenya's former President, Uhuru Kenyatta, said at the time.

Although its unclear what the state of implementation is, this latest move will further deepen the government's vision to enable digital literacy and job creation.

"We believe that by partnering with educational institutions, from primary school to the university level, we can help create a future workforce equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a digital age," Catherine Muraga, the Managing Director at Microsoft ADC, added. "We look forward to working with other institutions of higher learning to develop curricula that will improve the whole technology talent pipeline and grow the pool of tech talent in the country to benefit the whole ecosystem."

The ongoing curriculum review process is part of the ADC’s larger goal of enabling digital transformation by providing opportunities for skill and practical knowledge acquisition to equip Kenyans to be competitive in the global digital landscape.

The Microsoft ADC Kenya [and Nigeria] is one of the big tech's $100 million commitment into technological advancement on the continent. As of June 2022, the ADCs hired more than 500 African developers to work on artificial intelligence, cloud computing and mixed reality to devise cutting-edge solutions fit for Africa and the rest of the world. The ongoing global layoffs affected some of the Kenya-based employees

Aside from Microsoft, another big tech—Amazon Web Services (AWS) also disclosed that its contributing to the development of the tech talent pipeline in the East African country. The company says it plans to upskill 10,000 students using AWS Academy.

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