Young Students Conquer ‘Computer Driving’ Course

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Just as you need a licence to drive a vehicle, you also need a licence to use a computer. About 34 out-of-school-youth attended a Namibian College of Open Learning’s International Computer Driving Licence Course (ICDL), which was launched in April this year. In a record time of just eight weeks, two students have successfully managed to complete the course with above 91 percent results. For 23-year-old Ya Toivo Bezuidenhout Rhodes and 21-year-old Marco Silvano van Wyk, this is a dream come true as the students have now acquired internationally recognised qualification computer skills for life. “I’m glad we came through. Although it was tough, we made it and we are hoping to get a job in the ICT market after this,” said a rather excited looking Van Wyk holding his certificate. Both graduates conveyed their gratitude to the Government particularly the Ministry of Education for the opportunity given to them and others who benefit from the course. Before the course, Van Wyk stayed at home while struggling to get a job. However, after Namcol launched the ICDL course in April this year, Van Wyk got a lifeline. “This course is meant for out of school youth and it is our way of giving them a second chance to go through ICT training in various courses,” explained Namcol trainer Benster Ntesa in a recent interview. He noted that since two students have completed the course in a short time, others could do the same. Namcol is one of the many institutions which received the tender to cater for the Khomas Region to offer the ICDL course. This forms part of the ministry’s National Information and Communication Technology Skills Scheme (NICS Project) where all ICT training institutions were invited to take part in the initiative. The ministry is currently offering 324 grants to unemployed youth, especially those in rural areas to pursue studies in the A+, ICDL, Java Programming. While the A+ course is more technical, Java is more geared for programming and ICDL. The course offered by Namcol is the most popular office applications for the end user, namely MS Office 2000. The ICDL syllabus is designed to cover key concepts of computing, its practical applications and their use in the workplace and society in general. According to Benster, each student is required to pass seven modules in order to receive their certificate. “They must know how to use the computer at an international level. They can get their results through an automated testing system where they can receive their results immediately – it is basically a computerised examination,” he explained. Deputy Director of Namcol Jerry Beukes said the computer drivers licence course is accredited through the ICDL Foundation in South Africa and is being operated by an accredited trainer. “We have adopted a blended learning system, where the student has the choice of having a face-to-face class session or a computer based system where he or she can go at their own pace,” said Beukes, adding that demand has grown so much that even government employees have enrolled for the course in order to improve their computer skills. English as a medium of instruction was initially a problem for most of the out-of-school youths. However, steps have now been taken to split the class into two separate groups to help aid progress. The course normally takes between 6 and 12 months to complete and costs N$3, 300 for interested individuals in addition to an enrolment fee of N$50,00. It is envisaged that the training will continue until end of July. It is hoped that over 60 percent of the students would have completed the course then. Due to the growing interest in the course, Namcol plans to set up a similar centre that offers ICDL in Ongwediva next week Friday.