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Chisimba spreading the wings through the Mentored Internship Project

Over the last few months, 9 students from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) have been working on a mentored-internship project (MIP) where they are developing an application based on the Chisimba framework. Supported by the ict@innovation, the interns have been working on a subsection of web-based School Management Information System (SMIS) that would be used by Tanzanian schools. The subsection involved are the academic and the fees modules. The scope of the academic module is to record academic related records of secondary student while that of fees is to manage students' payments, disbursements and financial reconciliation.

The interns have so far expressed confidence in their programming skills, especially the use and re-use of classes as used in the Object Oriented Programming constructs; participation on the online mailing list of the Chisimba developers; the use of Subversion (svn) of concurrent version management; improved skills in PHP programming; working with a large community of software developers as well as in small groups; understanding the Model-View-Controller (MVC) concept used in most rapid software application frameworks like Chisimba; data modelling and database design using MySQL; and a wider and deeper understanding of the Open Source Software paradigm.

Acknowledging that learning and acquiring the necessary skills in programming and collaborative software development is a challenge, there are commendable attributes that have been highlighted by this group of interns. One of the attributes worth mentioning is the group functioning and the need for effective and timely communication. Through both their internal mailing list, and the Chisimba developers mailing list, they have given the modules they are working a life, which has indeed had an impact on their success. Secondly, there is a thread of understanding of the impact of bad or poorly written code and the effects it has on the productivity of other team members who might be using or reusing the code.

Lastly, having had exposure to some people behind some Open Source Projects greatly motivated the interns, and also assisted them in placing the work they are doing within the larger Open Source Community.  Paul Scott of the Chisimba Project, Mbwana Alliy of Yellow Masai, and Paul Bragiel of Lefora need special mention for you contribution not only in programming, but also on software business concepts you introduced to the interns.

The success of these interns is celebrated more by their mentors, whose hard work in the mentoring brings about most of these results. Many thanks to Frank Tilugulilwa, Godfrey Mbele and Emmanuel Natalis.

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