Developing the challenge-based learning programme
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The IT industry is a progressively evolving sector. Companies have to constantly innovate to keep their technologies up-to-date. This is hampered by a shortage of skilled personnel due to the slow uptake of ever-evolving technology by academic syllabi, which means most graduates lack relevant skills required by industry to innovate and solve complex local problems (challenges). Therefore, companies have to continuously invest in training, locally and abroad, which is expensive. In addition, multinational vendor companies face software product implementation challenges due to inadequate local capacity. It is for these reasons that Strathmore University, through @iLabAfrica Research Centre, has developed the Challenge-Based Learning Programme, to provide a steady stream of well-equipped and certified local capacity. The programme is implemented through a collaboration between industry and academia. It targets graduates from any discipline and takes a practical, challenge-based, problem-solving approach, with some additional theory classes to impart best practices and soft skills. A maximum of 60 students will be admitted per cohort per year, with at least 15 challenges being addressed in total – each team of 4 students takes only one non-trivial business challenge. Each team will be assigned an academic and industry mentor. After 3 months of theory classes, the trainees will be teamed up to tackle specific challenges facing a local company for a period of 6 to 9 months. The programme concludes with the implementation and institutionalisation of each solution developed by each team in a local company. The programme provides a sustainable pipeline of skills for local enterprises and encourages certification of local talent on international technologies. Consequently, the Challenge based Training promotes innovation using current and new technologies to solve complex local problems.