With the cost of quality education rising globally, pursuing a career in tech has become not only expensive but also difficult. In the US for example, it cost between $30,000 and $40,000 dollars to get a bachelor’s degree in science. It will also take between three and four years to complete this pursuit. In less developed countries meanwhile, practical and quality education in tech is inaccessible to most.
For example, in Nigeria, a country where the minimum wage was 5,500 Naira from 2004 until 2011 when it was raised to 18,000 Naira, and then 30,000 Naira in 2019, the annual school fees in a private university, where the standard of education is relatively modern is 472,000 Naira, with the first semester costing 977,500 Naira.
As for state or federal government-owned universities or polytechnics, tuition is cheaper, but the standard of education attainable there leaves a lot to be desired. From syllabus that never caught up with the times to textbooks that have no revised edition, lecturers who last practiced or researched when a computer had a maximum processing power of 512MB, academic unions who were one unpaid salary out of eighteen months to go on strike, to moribund libraries, and non-existent computer laboratories, every odd was stack against the students.
Those who were bent on getting the quality of education that would make them functional and thrive in the tech space either went outside the country or sought ways to supplement the education they were receiving. It was a tedious and expensive process. Yet, for everyone who was able to get a job, it was a worthy endeavor.
At the same time, in more developed countries, as the tech industry expanded, the need for quality senior tech experts was rising. In the USA, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Canada, and other countries, the industry was expanding faster than the available talents could meet up with. This was what birthed the need for Zwarttech, but if the current generation of senior tech experts in Africa are tied up in projects around the globe, where will the next generation of tech experts come from?
With poverty levels rising, quality education too expensive for most, and unemployment figures remaining high, getting a quality education in Nigeria is even more challenging than before. Across Africa, the story is quite similar.
With this in mind, Nelson believed finding a way to provide quality tech education for those willing would be a way to rectify many societal problems. Furthermore, if this could be achieved with no upfront cost to the students, then more students can be encouraged to enroll despite their economic background.
Bridging the gap between where the jobs are abundant and the human resources are readily available, between the more socio-economically advanced country and the up and coming countries, between the white, Anglo-Saxon, straight, and protestant dominated industry and the minority and underrepresented demograph, that is the foundation on which Zwart Talent Foundation is created.
Zwart Talent is currently present in Nigeria, the Netherlands, and Nicaragua with partners like ISEF, Donna Knows, Wajenzi, Nicaragua-Verein Oldenburg, Gladiator Academy, and others. We are looking to expand our activities into other countries. The vision is to help foster a just and more inclusive world, where everyone is stronger and happier together.
Providing quality tech education, soft skills training, cultural acclimatization, infrastructural support, mentorship, and others is the easiest way to help build a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. Best of all, the Zwart Talent approach is one that is sustainable and repeatable anywhere in the world.