By Prince Osuagwu
LEADING ICT and Networking solutions company, Cisco Systems rolled out the drums, weekend, to celebrate 20 years of its networking academy, NetAcad, a corporate social responsibility initiative it floated twenty years ago, to equip youths interested in IT career with the requisite skills to do exploit. Since 1997, when it floated the idea, Cisco says it has trained 7.8 million students, 9,600 educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities in more than 180 countries across the world.
Among these are over 100,000 Nigerian students, 200 instructors and 167 academies dotting the length and breadth of the country since the year 2000 when the academy berthed in Nigeria. Yet the company has invested over $15 million to ensure that interested Nigerian youths get requisite skills that can put them side by side with their peers in the developed worlds.
The NetAcad is arguably the world’s largest technology classroom, partnering closely with 22,000 educators to deliver a curriculum that gives students digital, problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills needed to get a job, promotion or start entrepreneurial businesses.
Cisco’s General Manager for Nigeria, Mr. Olakunle Oloruntimehin said, “In Nigeria alone, the NetAcad has trained over 101,000 students, of which 41 percent are female, in the past 20 years and currently has over 32, 000 active students and an instructor population of 218 in 167 Academies, seven Academy Support Center (ASCs) and nine Instructor Training Centre (ITCs).
“With many industries experiencing a shortage of IT talent, Cisco Networking Academy is developing a pipeline of IT talent to support digitisation in Nigeria. The core focus of our curriculum stays true to Cisco’s expertise in networking and security, and we are adding coursework in emerging fields like Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics in a way that is in line with the future of education and business trends.”
Meanwhile, Cisco Regional Manager, Corporate Affairs, Sub-Saharan Africa, Alfie Hamid explained that, “Cisco Networking Academy plays an essential role in Cisco’s commitment to positively impact over one billion people by 2025 through digitisation. For 20 years, Cisco Networking Academy has enabled people from all works of life to form part of the digital economy, positively changing the lives, incomes, and narratives of their families.”
The crown jewel of Cisco Systems’ offerings is their Cisco Certified Network Associate curriculum (CCNA). CCNA curriculum includes basic mitigation of security threats, introduction to wireless networking concepts and terminology, and performance-based skills. It’s aligns to industry recognized certification—which is what potential employers are looking for. This curriculum can be a gateway to a number of careers—network technician, support engineer, network administrator, network designer, network engineer, amongst others.
The Networking Academy learning experience includes e-learning curricula; personalized assessments; and hands-on opportunities such as labs, networking simulation software, competitions, and hackathons.