“Your application has been accepted. You will receive a separate email with instructions for signing into the AWS Academy Portal where you can read and accept the AWS Academy Terms & Conditions.” This is a response that Dr Bethel Mutanda, a Lecturer in the Department of Information and Communications Technology, received from the AWS Academy Team on 12 October 2022.
Informing the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Dr Vikash Jugoo, the Head of the Department, said: “Thanks to the efforts of Dr Mutanga, the Department of ICT is now a partner with AWS Amazon Academy, and has been approved to offer their courses”. The Acting Dean’s response was, “I support this initiative totally. It brings out an international flavour to our students and offerings at MUT.”
Dr Mutanda said the final approval came on 14 October 2022: “I made the application four weeks ago. I also held a series of meetings with Amazon representatives before the final approval could be granted”.
Asked to elaborate on the initiative, Dr Mutanda said the initiative was one of his contributions towards improving graduate employability which he has been declining over the years.
“The rate of unemployed IT graduates is increasing every year. Previously, IT was regarded as a prestigious qualification that could guarantee employment upon graduation. However, with recent developments, the field has become highly specialized,” said Dr Mutanda
Dr Mutanda said that consequently, students or new graduates were forced to do vendor-specific professional courses. These include Microsoft, CISCO, and Amazon. He pointed out that students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds could not afford these courses.
“Needless to say that this puts them at a huge disadvantage compared to their privileged counterparts,” he said.
Dr Mutanda said that over the years, he has been trying to assist students by looking for funded internship programmes. However, after the internship period, students still found themselves unemployed.
“It appears that experience without professional skills development programmes is not sufficient. Such a partnership bridges this gap as our students will be able to access over 20 certification courses for free or at a discounted price. These certificates include cloud computing, security, artificial intelligence, data science, among others”. Dr Mutanda said the programmes were flexible.
AWS Academy provides higher education institutions with a free, ready-to-teach cloud computing curriculum that prepares students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and careers in the cloud. In addition, having MUT as a registered partner institution allows students to do hands-on practicals on Amazon cloud infrastructure.
“Such experience is highly sought after in the industry,” said Dr Mutanda.