Saturday, September 28, 2013

ICT and Guidance and Counseling : GDG DevFest a hub for career development and career education.

                                             GDG DevFest Douala 2013 is starting NOW !

GDG DevFest Yaounde 2013 Photo Didier De Masso

From the 26th to the 28th of September was held the GDG DevFest 2013 in Yaoundé (in yaounde, it started on the 26th and ends on the 28th) and Douala (it is presently holding) organized by Google Developer Group (GDG). In Yaoundé this ICT event is held in the premises of the Advanced National School of Post and Telecommunications and in Douala at Appstech Boulvard de la Liberte – could you do me a favour, please Google Map these locations because it is the only way to know how to be there J. On the 26th ICT and Kulture was in GDG DevFest 2013 Yaoundé. As you know, ICT and Kulture seeks to promote ICT knowledge and ICT awareness so it participates in ICT events. The GDG DevFest 2013 Yaoundé was an opportunity for social scientist, ICT specialist, ICT passionate, ICT consumers, IT professionals, and journalists to learn, share and advance in their respective domains.  For two days trainees received tutorials during four workshops:

-         Workshop 1 : HTML5, WebGL, & Websocks
-         Workshop 2: Google App engine. cloud storage, Datastore
-          Workshop 3: Android
-         Work shop 4: Google Maps and Map Engine.

GDG DevFest Yaounde 2013 Photo Didier De Masso

While waiting to begin the workshop in one of the halls holding the workshop, ICT and Kulture started reflecting on the relationship between ICT and guidance and counseling in the context of a developing country such as Cameroon. The rationale of this paper stems from the observation that most Cameroonian embraces the ICT/IT professions without real understanding of the fundamental nature and implications it involves. That is the impact that IT has on their identity, culture/Culture, their education, their health and their environment. The objective of this paper is to sensitize and raise awareness of the education community (teachers especially computer science teachers, parents, students) and IT professionals of the necessity to seek counsel and guidance from a counselor. The reason this is that the counselor is the only professional who can enable individuals to attain their educational and career development while passing by their personal development.

What is guidance and counseling?

GDG DevFest Yaounde 2013 Photo Didier De Masso

In a context where globalization induces competitiveness, performance and competence it is imperative that individuals become the best of themselves. Not only it embellishes personal development but it is a fundamental asset in the world of work drastically influenced by change brought by the digital revolution. Mediocrity and incompetence become serious hindrances to all possible forms of development. That is why guidance and counseling ought to be at the heart of all forms of on the one hand of educational processes and on the other hand professionalization processes and thus be given utmost priority, even though this is not always the case in most African countries (Unesco, 2000). The term guidance and counseling are generic and popular terms but whose definitions albeit varied are clear. The definitions we shall use will be related to academic guidance and counseling and career/vocational guidance and counseling. The reason of this perspective being that Cameroon’s sociodemographic structure is mainly constituted of youths (UNFPA, 2010, p.15) who are thus going to school and who will in some years become professionally active. 

Guidance is
“a process developmental in nature, by which an individual is assisted to understand, accept and use his/her abilities, aptitudes and interests and attitudinal patterns in relation to his/her aspirations This is in addition to the learner’s experiences in the world of work and the people found there.  Guidance can also be looked at as a programme or services to individuals based upon the need of each individual, an understanding of his/her immediate environment, the influence of environmental factors on the individual and the unique features of each school Guidance is designed to help each individual adjust to his/her environment, develop the ability to  set realistic goals for him/herself, and improve his/her education.  As a process, guidance is not a simple matter, but involves a series of actions or progressive steps which move towards a goal. As a service, we can isolate four major services, those of educational, vocational, personal and social guidance.” Unesco (2000).

This definition suggests that guidance is fully meant to enable teh personal development of an individual. It is worth recalling that underemployment and not just unemployment as a result of lack of information (career education) is a threat to all economies especially the developing and emerging ones.

Educational and career/vocational guidance become very important elements of guidance and are of concern if we expect the ICT sector in Cameroon to be boosted to the fullest of its capacities. It is factual that most people need this form of guidance as a result of the demands the information age imposes unto people and society in general. However, it still seems many high school students enter into the university or professional schools without much knowledge of what the world market and work of work with respect to IT professions expects of them or is all about and when they eventually engage in a field such as computer science they are more attracted by the technology-driven atmosphere being a computer science student brings. This might be due to the particular psychological changes that adolescence brings. We hypothesize that the state of affairs of the ICT sector in Cameroon is revealing of a lack of guidance and management of human resources in ICT.

Counselling  :

is a learning-oriented process, which occurs usually in an interactive relationship, with the aim of helping a person learn more about the self, and to use such understanding to enable the person to become an effective member of society. Counselling is a process by means of which the helper expresses care and concern towards the person with a problem, and facilitates that person's personal growth and brings about change through self-knowledge.” Unesco (2000)

Counselling in fact is the framework in which the individual can be orientated or guided to attain his goals be they academic or career/vocational.  As the facts above reveal both guidance and counseling are important for all forms of development. The questions of what courses to do, which profession to take, how to derive maximum satisfaction from the profession are questions student and professionals of computer science certainly ask themselves. These questions have answers in guidance and counseling. Indeed guidance and counseling can be at the service of ICT for personal and societal development.

Guidance and counselling at the service of ICT

There is no guidance and counselling if there are no individuals to be orientated and counselled with respect to their professional and academic aspirations. In most schools in Cameroon now, computer science is taught at virtually all levels of the educational system. This is important because of the demands in the IT/ICT sector worldwide and in context. However, it is of concern for all members of the education community, IT professionals, the government to consolidate their efforts to enable students who choose to take computer science as a subject and later on as a profession to mobilize counselors for this monumental task. Guidance counselors are trained to enable individuals, students to use their abilities and skills for their well being and that of their community/society. The technical intervention of school counselors is of prime importance as it is their role to enable the education community to be aware of the need to consider guidance and counseling principles. The implementation of a comprehensive guidance and counsellling programme is a vital necessity. Present IT professionals would like to develop themselves in the career and students would like to know what possibilities having studied computer science can bring. Guidance and counseling can in fact help them attain self knowledge and self understand important elements to make informed choices and decisions.

GDG DevFest Yaounde 2013 Photo Didier De Masso

ICT events such as the GDG DevFest be it that they are held in Yaoundé, ending today and in Douala, starting and ending today, are places where the educational community ought to be because if children and adolescents are interested in ICT they have to touch the realities of the field. It is rather unfortunate that virtually all participants of most ICT events that ICT and Kulure has participated are either ICT/IT students or professionals. The present digital age involves an almost unavoidable imperative that of computer literacy, which is at the core of present and future development of all developing and emerging countries. ICT and Kulture thinks that if more research is done in the fields of guidance and counselling with respect to computer science, ICT's /IT to be simple, and  in context the IT sector would be healthier and to the greatest satisfaction of everyone.

 Guez, W.,  Allen, J. (2000). Guidance: Module 1. UNESCO
 Guez, W., Allen, J. (2000). Counselling: Module 2. UNESCO
 Guez, W .,  Allen, J. (2000). Guidance and Counselling Programme Development: Module 8. UNESCO.
UNFPA Cameroun (2000): Impact Rapport Annuel: Population et Developement Recensement de la population: les données essentielles Un autre regard sur les données.

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