12 Feb 2013

Computer Education in Malawian Secondary Schools

This article was first printed in the Malaptop blog. For more information about Malaptop please go to http://malaptop.org/  

James of CYD

James of CYD
James Gondwe, Executive Director of Maloptop's partnership organisation in Malawi, CYD Malawi and NAYD's publicity officer.
Malawi has a national Policy for ICT which among other areas it points out the utilization of ICT in Education. It partly reads “…The Government shall facilitate the development of the education sector by introducing ICTs to all levels of education as a step towards the realization of the policy objectives…”. The policy emphasizes among others the introduction of computer lessons in education, especially primary and secondary levels using ICTs to modernize the education system.
The government of Malawi introduced Computer Studies as an examinable subject by the Malawi National Examination Board in Malawian Secondary Schools in the year 2005. According to the  syllabus, the rationale for this decision was that computer literacy is becoming important in everyday life and as such Malawian students need to have the skills to use computers so that they can be of benefit in the present social economic environment in terms of self-employment, entrepreneurship and further education.
However Computer education in Malawian Secondary Schools is yet to start in earnest
However Computer education in Malawian Secondary Schools is yet to start in earnest. Particularly in public schools, the ratio of computers to pupils is unbelievably small. As a matter of fact, the government’s efforts to put in place the needed infrastructure and accessories have also not been adequate. Thus many Non-Profit Organizations like Centre for Youth and Development and Malaptop have come in to support Government schools with computers. Centre for Youth and Development has partnered with Scottish based Malaptop and aims at providing refurbished computers in Secondary Schools in Malawi for Computer education and other uses.

It is inevitable  that the modern world demands vocational and technological skills from an individual, especially in the labour market. This then means that Malawian schools, no less than her secondary schools, should equip the students with necessary and relevant computer and information and technology (ICT) skills. Today, we talk about the world being a global village. This is made possible by advanced technology especially ICT. Acquisition of computer literacy skills has therefore become necessary to be employable in this world of computers. CYD is a youth focused organization and believes in an education that is empowering to young people and equips young people with relevant skills for the future job market. Computer knowledge coupled with certain other job skills increases one’s chances of getting a job as computer literacy is an eligibility criterion for almost all the modern-day jobs.
At CYD we believe that computers have brought about a revolution across all industries in the developing world including in Malawi. They have changed the face of society. They are no longer specialized tools to be used by specially trained people. They are used in almost every sphere of life. If you walk in streets of some rural areas in Malawi you will find them in use as long as they are connected to power. Computers have become a daily utility and are the best means for processing documents, storage and management of data. They have gained immense importance in day-to-day life. Their increasing utility has made computer education the need of the day.
Teachers are well aware of their importance.  According to Mr Msowoya Headmaster of Mponela CDSS, “By computer education, we mean, gaining the know-how of the basic concepts related to a computer and gaining the basic knowledge of computer operation. Knowing about the basic components of a computer, the basic concepts behind the use of computers and the know-how of some of the elementary computer applications constitutes computer education. Learning about the computer basics followed by a practical experience of using a computer is the key to computer education. As computers are widely used today, acquiring computer education is the need of the day” 
As computers are widely used today, acquiring computer education is the need of the day
Computers are also excellent communication media. They are the means to access the Internet and get connected to the world. Computers can be used to access a vast knowledge base and search for information archives over the Internet. Computers have been very vital in college for students. It is necessary to become educated in computing before they can be used for purposes of work, communication, education and entertainment.
For a country to be internationally competitive it is essential that its labour force is able to utilize and harness the advantages of ICT. Computers are indeed ruling society. To keep up the pace in this fast life of today, computer education in secondary schools in Malawi is extremely important. Computers are an integral part of life and so is computer education!
Today, we talk about the world being a global village. This is made possible by advanced technology
“Today, we talk about the world being a global village. This is made possible by advanced technology”

While there is an agreement that computer education is necessary in Secondary Education in Malawi it is marred with a lot of challenges and the main challenge being faced today is turning the goal of ICT education in Secondary School into a reality. The challenges of Computer Education in Secondary are both educational and administrative. Compared to other subjects Computer Education is challenging to implement; it requires access to more expensive hardware, software and communication technologies; many teachers are not specifically trained in computing and lack qualifications in ICT and where attempts are made to purchase equipment the costs of maintenance and replacement are unavoidable.

Despite the challenges, Computer Education in Malawi is relevant and necessary. Government and various stakeholders, companies, Non-profit Organizations have to make it a reality by supporting schools in Malawi with computers and trainings for youths. You can make a difference by donating your old Computer to Malaptop in Scotland or providing funds for Training more Teachers in ICT. Help Malaptop and Centre for Youth and Development make ICT education a reality in Malawi.

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