Foundations For ICT Professionals: The O level Computer Science Curriculum Frame work
The curriculum defines what we want to achieve at a given period of time and this is where we make or break our aspirations. Parents are either led or misled in making career guidance for their kids based upon subject choice in anticipation of helping their kids shape their future. The fulcrum of this write up is on taking a closer look at the pluses and minuses of this fundamental document.
The first port of call is what comprise the panel that put up the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council O level Computer Science Syllabus:
• The National Computer Science Panel comprising of
- Representatives of Computer Science Teachers
- The Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC)
- Representatives from Teachers’ and Technical Colleges
- Representatives from Universities
• United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
• United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
On the academic side this is quite an endowed list and they have indeed put up a great academic piece as far as the theoretical aspect is concerned. We will delve more into the contents of the curriculum as we progress.
One glance on this panel will show a yawning gap as far is industry and commerce is concerned as there seen to be non-representation of this critical constituency. Industry and commerce is to a large extent consumers of the byproducts of this curriculum. They indeed deserve a say on how their anticipated personnel are molded. Besides churning out academics and employees, the national curriculum framework should heavily strive on creating tech-entrepreneurs in the fashion of programmers, developers, engineers and the list is endless. Hoping also the inclusion of UNICEF and UNESCO is not only limited to funding but to bring in the global aspect of ICTs.
The preamble thus read:
This syllabus is designed to cover the first four years of Secondary Education in Computer Science, which provides essential skills in problem solving. It prepares learners for further education or branching to more specific and specialised fields of computing. Learners will be able to use the acquired skills to solve day to day life and work-related problems in the globally competitive information age.
The syllabus goes a long way in keeping up with this preamble as they take a holistic approach to ICTs. These are spelled out in the deployment methods of the syllabus, actually known as methodology:
• Problem solving
• Simulation and modeling
• Design based learning
• Project-based learning
• Question and answer
• Educational Tours
• Research and Presentations
• Expert guest presentations
On paper this is quite a sound document and if followed to the letter and spirit it guarantees an output of astute students on their path to professional ICT practitioners. The topics are hierarchically expounded from form one to four. With this spiral approach the topics are juxtaposed with their relevance to needs like banking, agriculture, medicine, education etc. As the learners scale up the ladder more pertinent topics are tackled, these are: Logic gates, Truth tables, Algorithm design, Web development and Web security. The topics are really exhaustive and aim to be all-encompassing and achieve the desired goals.
What is left to be seen is how, when and if the teachers tasked in delivering this curriculum framework are equal to the task. With the New Zimsec way of assessments and projects the classroom practitioners of Computer Science are a critical component and deserve to be fully resourced so as to achieve their mandates. The teachers need to have the drive, passion and expertise in Computer Science to be able to achieve the dictates of the syllabus.
The beauty of this Zimsec Computer Science Syllabus is the aspect of practicals wherein for example, learners have to: Design and develop a website, write a code for project modules, configure a network model, construct model of given systems and other myriad practical exercise.
All stakeholders need to pull together to make this document become reality and in so doing chart the correct path for foundations for ICT professionals. Who knows, a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or a Clive Masiyiwa is lurking in the corridors of high school and need to be unleashed into the world of ICTs.
E-Learning Practitioner-Mukutronics E-learning Zone
Passionate about all things ICT.