Contextualized IT Education in Tanzania: Beyond Standard IT Curricula
Matti Tedre, Nicholas Bangu, Seth I. Nyagava, Tumaini University, Tanzania
JITE-Research Volume 8, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
Tumaini University at Iringa, Tanzania, started a new B.Sc. program in IT in 2007. In the course of planning and implementation of the program, we found out that standard ACM/IEEE IT curricula are not adequate for an IT program in a poor, developing country. The standard curricula describe, in detail, the competences that IT specialists in industrialized countries should possess, but the special characteristics of developing countries require a plethora of additional skills and competences that IT professionals in developing countries should have. The environment—natural, cultural, and technical—of developing countries brings about issues that IT specialists in industrialized countries do not know much about. Inadequate ICT and electrical infrastructure cause hardware to malfunction, wear out, and break; a hostile natural environment causes problems with equipment and eventually destroys it; quirks of local manufacturing and procurement complicate acquisitions; counterfeit products, in-existent customer care, and lack of warranty make purchases risky; excessively complex customs and shipping procedures make foreign acquisitions painful; widespread problems with corruption make accounting tricky; and lack of qualified staff is a systemic problem. In industrialized countries there is a high level of specialization and separation of professionals and their tasks, and one can easily delegate parts of a project to consultants. But in Tanzania— especially in rural Tanzania—there usually are no specialists available. IT professionals have to be able to do a large number of rudimentary tasks outside the field of IT. The most common tasks concern electrical installations, telephony, architectural design, structural modifications to buildings, protection from forces of nature, and all kinds of installation-related construction tasks. In an attempt to make IT education in our university relevant to the local environment and socioeconomic context, we have pinpointed four areas of IT curriculum that we have had to re-think. Firstly, the pedagogical approach must resonate with students’ and teachers’ learning styles. Secondly, the scope of IT education must be broader than the scope of IT education in industrialized countries. Thirdly, selection and emphasis of topics must meet the needs of Tanzanian society. Fourthly, all kinds of cultural, technical, environmental, and other contextual issues must be understood and taken into account in curriculum and course design.
Tedre, M., Bangu, N. & Nyagava, S.I. (2009). Contextualized IT Education in Tanzania: Beyond Standard IT Curricula. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 8(1), 101-124. Informing Science Institute.
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