Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Dr. Rislan Kanya, Director, IT Services, and Senior Lecturer, Baze University, Nigeria
Baze University was founded in 2011 as a private university focused on supporting Nigeria’s economic and social development with a continual output of well-qualified, job-ready graduates. It has about 1,600 active students, and more than 360 lecturers and 300 administration, technical and support staff. The main campus is located in the nation’s capital, Abuja, a modern, vibrant and student-friendly city. One of its aims is “to provide university education to British standards in Nigeria at half the cost of sending a student to study abroad.”
In addition to serving as Director, IT Services, and Senior Lecturer, Dr. Rislan Abdulazeez Kanya also is Chair of the Big Data Analytics and Innovation Research group. He holds a PhD in computing with a focus on Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) from the University of Portsmouth, UK.
From the university’s inception, Dr. Kanya introduced Oracle Academy curricula as the platform for teaching Java and database technologies to all the computer science students at the university. The goal is to equip students with skills valuable to the workplace, including both technical computing ability and business awareness.
Oracle Academy: What made you select Oracle Academy curriculum as part of the Information Systems Management program?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: I have been a fan of Oracle since my computing studies, and later in companies using Oracle platforms as database and supporting technology. Ten years ago, when Baze University was established, we created both database and programming courses that would launch graduates into the future workplace with world-class skillsets.
That was the reason for categorically bringing in Oracle Academy curriculum and resources. Oracle has become our leading job-ready partner, and we are the first university in Nigeria to fully adopt and integrate Oracle Academy resources into our courses.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us how you integrated Oracle Academy curriculum and resources into your courses, and which Oracle Academy curriculum you use?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: We adopted it integrally. We aligned every detail of the Java and database curriculum into our teaching and also into our support services and operations. We teach both the Java curriculum and the database curriculum. We teach Java Fundamentals and Java Programming in the second year, while we teach Database 1 and 2 at year three. We teach database curricula using Database Foundations, Database Design and Programming with SQL, and Programming with PL/SQL. For the Master’s level, we offer Advanced Databases, Big Data and Business Intelligence modules. At both undergraduate and graduate level, we give students access to Oracle Application Express (APEX) for hands-on practice in the cloud.
Oracle Academy: Are the classes limited to computer science students?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: Actually, we get a lot of interest from other faculty who feel the need for courses such as Database Foundations and Java Programming. For example, we get non-IT students from Business Management or Law who pick up these modules as electives for adding computing competencies to their resumes.
Oracle Academy: How many staff are trained to deliver these courses?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: We have nine staff versed in Oracle Academy curriculum, and many of them have had Oracle Academy in-class training and have passed Oracle Certified Professional exams. We also have some former students who are now back with us teaching what they learned at Baze.
One of them, Usman Labaran Yunusa, graduated with a computer science degree from Baze University in April 2019. After his graduate internship and a one-year National Youth Services Corp (NYSC) scheme, Usman was invited back to Baze University to act as Business Intelligence Officer and conduct research for his master’s degree. Read how Usman Yunusa benefited from Oracle Academy curriculum under Dr. Rislan Kanya and now interacts with his mentor in data analytics.
Oracle Academy: It’s great you are an Industry Ambassador at Baze. What does the role involve?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: I am the bridge between the classroom and the workplace at Baze. For example, over the last 10 years, I have been interacting with various companies, government, international organizations, and startup ecosystems in Abuja. Even though the development of this sector is in its infancy, it’s still very promising and is becoming strong with potential to scale up. I have placed many students for internships and jobs in public and private organizations and startups that have scaled up to become successful small and medium enterprises.
One of my tasks as an industry ambassador is managing the Oracle partnership, which enables us to equip our students with transferable skills including analytic and synthetic reasoning, problem solving, and communication skills. This is something we are proud to say we have benefited from our strategic partnership with Oracle. On the nurturing side, we invite companies to visit us, present their business models, and tell us what skills they require. We also ask them to give feedback on our graduates, which helps us to improve our program.
Oracle Academy: What is your function as Chair of Big Data Analytics?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: My major functions as chair and also as deputy chair of Nigeria Big Data Analytics and Innovation Initiative (NBDAII) in Nigeria are centered around three things:
Beyond that, I have organized many capacity development programs with Oracle Academy. For example, in November 2019, as part of our Sixth NBDAII annual conference, together with Oracle Academy we conducted a well-attended open workshop titled “Exploring Data Analytics for Classroom Use.” Going forward, I also see huge potential in doing more projects with Oracle. I am in the final stage of adopting Oracle Academy’s Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning curriculum to add to our programming, databases and big data programs. I also am planning to work with Oracle to help us to push some of our student's innovation projects to the market.
Oracle Academy: And how does Dr. Kanya relax outside of Baze University?
Dr. Rislan Kanya: Well, the relaxing comes from taking long walks, cycling and hiking with my friends and sometimes with my wife and children. However, most of my spare time goes into volunteering and organising STEM events with organizations supporting startups, mentoring students, and getting people in our community to see the value of technology and how it can solve many of our problems. In the past few years, I must have trained more than 2,000 vulnerable youth on how to use the power of the computers, the Internet, and social media to improve their choices for a better life.
Thank you, Dr. Rislan Kanya, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.