Description of Computer Science Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Initial Explorations
Best, Michael L.
Grinter, Rebecca E.
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Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are in need of technology innovators who are equipped to leverage technologies in locally relevant domains such as health, government and education. To create skilled graduates who can build and shape locally relevant technologies, higher education institutes in Africa must have Computer Science (CS) education programs that meet local needs, for example, to satisfy the demand for entrepreneurs to build industry and strengthen an economy. This paper characterizes the current state of CS education in SSA in order to identify opportunities for addressing education challenges and to make suggestions that may improve the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in this region. We present the results of a survey of CS educators in SSA institutions of higher education, which was aimed at exploring the issues they face. In addition to the continued chronic under-funding of SSA education, we found that universities in SSA have smaller departments, less focus on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and offer a variety of courses aside from undergraduate Bachelors degrees. We discuss directions to improve CS curricula through investing in locally tailored courses and changing perceptions of the value of SSA CS higher education programs, standards and educators. Further, we reflect on the challenges of conducting research on SSA. We conclude that further research in this area is needed to build on the ideas we offer here to continue to strengthen CS higher education in SSA.