ict@innovation invited about 20 people with expertise and experience in FOSS training and/or certification from different African countries to a workshop in Johannesburg, from 15 – 17 October 2008.
During 3 days, the participants shared experiences with FOSS training and certification in different contexts and countries. They discussed approaches to address FOSS certification in Africa, and debated their views on how the ict@innovation component on FOSS certification could ideally and realistically be designed.
In summary, the workshop discussions produced some building blocks for the ict@innovation component on FOSS certification, which will run for 2 years, fom 2009 to 2010:
- The group agreed, that there are training needs at all FOSS skills levels, from desktop skills (Open Office etc.) to system administration to particular programming skills (like web development, database etc.). As a starting point for ict@innovation, the group recommended training and certification at the system administration level to have most leverage and impact. There is a particular lack of skills to manage networks and servers, and also sys admin skills provide a solid basis for further FOSS developer and training skills. The LPI (Linux Professional Institute) certification was selected as the product to use to build training and certification skills over the coming 2 years. This discussion outcome was in line with the results of the email-based survey that ict@innovation conducted in preparation of the workshop.
- While the LPI certification was endorsed as a vendor neutral and quality certification, improvements on the exam itself were suggested. The exam should ideally provide evidence of practical sys admin and problem solving skills. Online work on a virtual server was agreed to be a desired scenario for an improved LPI exam.
- Openly licensed online training materials for LPI were seen as a way to reduce training and certification costs, to increase access to FOSS skills, to keep training materials up to date and relevant, and to reach put to a larger scale of the population with FOSS training.
- It was differentiated between short term realistic and long term ideal objectives. With the objective of creating a critical mass of trained and certified people in different African countries within the 2 year programme duration, the adoption of an existing international certification was agreed on. However, in the long term, sustainable organizational structures need to be created, that deal with FOSS certification at a pan-African level. An African certifying body should take care of promotion, accreditation and endorsement of a portfolio of FOSS certifications. As much of training and certification fees should ideally remain on the continent and support the African certifying body.
- A coordinated approach to FOSS certification at a pan-African level was seen as vital to avoid past mistakes of individual negotiations which so far have all not reached desired scales of training and certification.
ict@innovation is currently in the process of building a detailed programme out of the solid recommendations that resulted from the workshop. Thanks again to all participants for their great and valuable input!
The results of the email survey, as well as of the online forum on FOSS certification also serve as planning input to the programme design. Thanks to all who have shared their experiences and views!
If you would like to share additional views, are interested to partner in the programme, or would like to become a FOSS certification training organization in the context of ict@innovation, please let us know.