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FOSS Certification Planning Workshop: Part II - Ideas + Inputs for FOSS Certification Programme

Reasons for past challenges with international FOSS certifications in Africa


Several attempts to promote FOSS certification in Africa have been made in the past. However, at this point they are not widely known nor available in African countries. We discussed the possible reasons for past failures (which we want to avoid in the ict@innovation approach).

  • A reason for a lack of success was seen in the individual approaches, in different countries by different institutions, independently of each other.  A concerted approach could have leveraged much more negotiation power.
  • There was also regret on the lack of a joint approach related to learning from each others experiences from the FOSS trainings that indeed have been going on across the continent.
  • Most pricing structures make the available international FOSS certifications not well affordable in African contexts.
  • There has been a lack of promotion and branding, and no backing by the big industry players, which would have been helpful. Here, also a failure in taking adequate advantage of industry changes in favour of FOSS was identified. The lack of PR has led to a lack of demand on the client and employers side. Job descriptions do not require special FOSS Certifications, so there is also not much incentive for job seekers to pursue such a certification.
  • FUD on the side of clients and employers with regard to FOSS in general plays a role.
  • Connected to affordability and lack of promotion is a lack of confidence in the return on investment for the individual.
  • There is not enough training capacity.
  • Also, there are not enough adequately equipped training centers to offer quality training that a high-level certification would require. Often, the accreditation requirements to become an official FOSS certification training center are rather strict, and not being in a strong economy, often hard to fulfil. From a development perspective, however, the spread FOSS skills to as many people as possible, and opportunities for many FOSS training providers should be the guiding principle.

Components of an ict@innovation FOSS Certification Programme – Summary of Brainstorming


On the basis of the broad discussion of issues related to FOSS certification in Africa, the next step was to envision the ideal ict@innovation FOSS certification programme. Which components should the programme have, which issues are of particular importance to consider, and what should the programme look like? The below summary is the result of an individual brainstorming with cards and clustering of cards. We have divided the results in recommendations for the overall programme, the training part, and the certification part.

Outcomes of Brainstorming

Overall Programme

Sustainability
  • subsidized certification is not sustainable in the long run; however could be a transitional solution
  • needs further thought
Gaps + Needs
  • first discussions held here + points identified, which further research is necessary?
PR + Marketing
  • agreement that joint efforts need to be undertaken
Credibility + Recognition
  • quality equals credibility
  • feedback system with industry
Trainings
  • Curriculum/Syllabus
  • clarity + modularity
Role of Training Programme in Certification
  • examinee chooses how to obtain skills
  • or training as important component of programme
Affordability + Accessiblity
  • ideas how to reduce costs, e.g. through open course materials
Level + Scope of Training
  • from beginners to advanced level?
  • concentrate on sys admin?
  • entire LAMP stack?
Entry Level
  • entry level test?
Didactical Approach
  • practical, hands-on
  • virtual training environment
Training of Trainers
  • agreement on need
  • quality management needed
  • Training Materials
  • open + adaptable course materials published online
  • build on available materials
Graduation
  • give choice of portfolio of evidence or exam
Exam + Certification
  • Acceptance
  • achieve endorsement by governments + industry
  • create a need for certification
Affordability + Accessibility
  • low cost; price levels adjusted to African markets
Mode of Delivery
  • online?
  • paper-based?
  • hands-on + practical problem solving simulation
Entry Level
  • pre-assessment of examinees
Security
  • what needs to be in place?
Localization of the Certification Process
  • to what degree to localize existing internationally recognized certification
  • African certifying authority?

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