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Allow me to express my appreciation for what the University of Swaziland has done by designing programmes to cater for the development of Information Technology professionals in the country.

I am referring to the BSc in Information Technology (IT) and BSc in Computer Science Education programmes which will be offered for the first time in the coming academic year. Indeed these programmes will take the country to First World status in 2022.
Over the years I have wondered why UNISWA was quiet in the field of ICT regarding programmes that would enable emaSwati to develop their competency in IT.

I know that they were and are still offering BSc in Computer Science but I am not sure to what extent only one
programme could address the IT needs of the country. The variety of programmes is welcome.

IT has been listed as one of the priority areas by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for the purpose of awarding scholarships to applicants. Successful applicants were offered assistance to go and pursue IT courses at degree level outside the country.

We have also been made to understand that training our students outside the country is very expensive which has led to fewer candidates being considered for financial assistance. Since now a degree programme is offered in the country, we hope more qualifying candidates will be considered for scholarships so that the country could have more IT graduates at degree level.

Concerning the prioritization of IT by the Scholarship Board, I entirely agree with them; there is no country that can attain First World status while still dependent on foreign expertise in technology.
While we might need their (foreigners) experience and expertise in laying the foundation for our IT infrastructure, we do not need them forever.

We need locals to understudy them in order to be capacitated for First World status. Without the relevant local graduates in IT, realizing this status may remain a good dream after 2022.

The establishment of the Royal Science and Technology Park was an indication of a political will and vision of the authorities in the country. Indeed UNISWA would have failed in its duty by not providing a programme that would prepare emaSwati to work in the Royal Science and Technology Park to advance IT issues in the country.

By 2022, the country will be welcoming its first cohort of IT degree holders trained in our local university. Indeed that would be great. Since the university has introduced the BSc in Computer Science Education programme, the Ministry of Education and Training should prepare posts for the teachers who will graduate with the relevant skills needed to teach the ICT subject. Now and again when schools receive ICT related donations they always complain about the shortage of ICT teachers. We hope the ministry will ensure that our schools are provided with relevant teachers for the subject.

Schools currently offering ICT as a subject should encourage pupils to consider enrolling for the IT programmes offered at UNISWA, in order to increase the number of ICT experts in the country.

Hopefully, that will help the country develop and attain as well as maintain the envisaged First World status. I encourage UNISWA to develop more programmes that are currently not offered in the country to minimize the number of students who have to be sponsored with exorbitant fees in universities outside Eswatini.

We look forward to more relevant programmes to be unveiled in the near future that will help the country reduce the expenses incurred in sending our children to neighbouring countries to do what can be done in our own university.

Jabulani Dludlu

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