iHRIS Academy: The Challenges, Experience, and Future
The first international iHRIS Academy was organized by Dr. Juma Lungo and hosted by the University of Dar es Salaam. The workshop was intended for iHRIS implementers and system administrators from the different African countries. iHRIS implementers, system administrators, human resource managers, and IT developers from seven African countries were in attendance during the Academy. These countries were Botswana, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the host country Tanzania.
The goal of the workshop was to inculcate necessary skills needed in the development and deployment of iHRIS Manage, one application in the iHRIS application suite. The Academy was also an avenue to share ideas for implementing iHRIS amongst the different countries, with emphasis on the failures and successes encountered. The clinic was also an opportunity to discuss the next steps for the iHRIS Suite, not to mention the need for collaboration amongst iHRIS implementing countries, which cannot be emphasized enough.
The academy started on Monday 12 August and ended on Friday 17 August 2013. The week-long event was packed with iHRIS training activities and field visits to the University of Dar Es Salaam and Tanzania human resource projects.
The only challenge identified during the workshop was having all representatives from the different countries in one group. These participants had different IT skill levels, and it became a difficult as the excellent facilitators tried to work with everyone on their level.
In one word, the experience was great… awesome… the best. Okay, that’s more than one word. The experience was immense, but it could be better. I met and exchanged ideas with different iHRIS implementers and system administrators across Africa. More importantly, I met with different brothers and sisters from my mother in different places.
Upcoming annual iHRIS Academy events should have different tracks to handle participants' knowledge competencies. These tracks could be designed for Basic Users, Power Users, Developers, and possibly Policy Makers. These different tracks should have predefined curricula or clear-cut goals to be achieved. These tracks should also support knowledge progression, and should bring individuals with little IT knowledge up-to-speed as they progress up the ladder from one track to another.
iHRIS is built on the Free and Open Software (FOSS) concept, and it's my opinion that we should leverage this. There are different global and local FOSS events that are sponsored by the big players in the open-source community. Software Freedom Day is an annual global event sponsored by different open-source giants like Canonical, Google, etc. ICT4Girls is another known local FOSS event in Nigeria. The iHRIS family should consider looking in this direction. Yes, there is the saying that “there is no free cup of tea in Free town,” but funding and iHRIS awareness issues can be addressed at the end of this road.