Kenya’s Information and Communications minister Samuel Poghisio has amended ICT policy guidelines to endorse the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) certification. This is a globally recognised certification designed to standardise end-user computer skills. Although a compliance deadline is yet to be issued, to remain in business, computer colleges will now have to offer courses leading to this certification, effectively joining other 31 African countries that have given a thumbs up to this premier certification.
Currently, there are probably as many computer colleges in Kenya as there are hair salons some with barely three computers but with tens of students taking classes at the same time. Many are ill equipped; some with decade-old hardware and software. From these colleges are graduates with competency certificates but can hardly print a professional Ms Excel worksheet.
It is against this backdrop that the minister endorsed ICDL to ensure that those certified as computer literate can ‘drive’ safely on the information superhighway. ICDL is not specific to one software package. While most people will study using Microsoft Office, you could also apply the ICDL course to any other comparable software such as Open Office.
The ICDL is deployed and monitored by the European Computer Driving Licence Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that benefits from the unique support of experts from national computer societies and international organisations across the globe.
In Kenya, the Institute of Advanced Technology has been training and testing students towards ICDL certification over the last 10 years. According to the institute’s principal Peter Wairagu, the country has less than 20,000 ICDL certified graduates. A full ICDL certification programme at IAT takes 130 hours. However, Mr Wairagu explained, “candidates are allowed a three year period from the date of passing their first test to finish their ICDL so that they can take the course at their own pace”.