Susanne Pertl, founder and president of the Burkina Institute of Technology (BIT), talks to us about the newly formed BIT and its mission to build future generations of young leaders and professionals in Burkina Faso.
Tell us more about the Burkina Institute of Technology. How did it come about? What are its goals?
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations and other NGOs have built many primary schools. But there is desperate lack of secondary education and universities. Existing universities are extremely poorly equipped and focus mainly on traditional subjects.
We aim to create a striking impact in educating entrepreneurs who are willing to create change. We are exceptional in providing internet access and a laptop for each student. We aim to build future generations of young leaders and professionals in Burkina Faso.
What problem within the country is this program looking to address?
Sixty-five percent of the population is under 25 years old. There is a lot of creativity and power but outside the government almost no jobs available. The students of BIT will be trained to be entrepreneurs and to create job opportunities for their fellow citizens. Our first curriculum is a combination of computer science, entrepreneurship and leadership. Next year we will add a second curriculum of electrical engineering with a focus on renewable energies.
How many students are involved?
Already 12 months after the initial idea, we started in October 2018 with a pioneer class of 32 students. We plan with additional 70 students for the class of 2022. From there we will grow continuously.
What edX courses are the students taking, and what types of degrees are they working towards?
In the first semester CS50: Introduction to Computer Science, next semester Front End Developer followed by Developing SQL Databases in the third semester. Students are working towards a bachelor degree.
How is the first year of the program going so far?
Students are very motivated and full of energy. A big challenge was the language, as English is their third language besides French and Moore. Very promising is our mentorship program with the German team from Stern Stewart & Co. And the students love the edX courses. What a great opportunity that students in Burkina can participate in the best courses of the world.