Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Rohini Chandralatha, ICT Instructor and Learning Management Coordinator, Vocational Training Authority (VTA), Sri Lanka.
The VTA provides technical training for students ages 18-24 looking for employment in 19 trade sectors. In the last few years, enrollment at VTA training centers has risen from 35,000 to 50,000 in 2020, making VTA the largest training body in the country.
More than 10,000 of the students attend ICT courses, aiming for jobs in a sector that the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies foresees as a US$ 5 billion industry by 2022, creating 200,000 direct jobs and enabling the launch of 1,000 startups.
Rohini Chandralatha is VTA coordinator of learning management, examinations, quality assurance and teacher training. She is an Oracle Academy certified instructor, with a Master’s degree in information security and a passion for teaching computer science. She has written three textbooks covering Java programming, web design, and email systems. Currently, she is earning a PhD in cybersecurity.
Oracle Academy: What is the role of Oracle Academy within the VTA?
Rohini Chandralatha: VTA has around 252 training centers island wide, in which some 200 teachers have been trained to teach six Oracle Academy courses to computer science diploma seekers: Database Foundations; Database Design and Programming with SQL; Programming with PL/SQL; Java Foundations; Java Fundamentals; and Java Programming.
These teachers have progressively come aboard over three years following an agreement signed between VTA and Oracle Academy in 2017.
Oracle Academy: And when did your involvement begin?
Rohini Chandralatha: My first encounter was in 2012 through an Oracle Academy instructor visiting from India. Since then, I took online and in-class training and became qualified as an Oracle Academy instructor in 2015. As VTA coordinator, I was instrumental in the agreement to adopt Oracle Academy curriculum.
Before joining VTA, I was a Java programmer, developing, building and deploying web-based applications online with the J2EE platform. Also, at university I had been exposed to Oracle technology.
Oracle Academy: And now you teach the full Oracle Academy curriculum?
Rohini Chandralatha: Yes, I incorporate the entire Oracle Academy curriculum into our syllabus. It’s easy to map to various levels of our National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) standard diplomas. I teach the six Oracle Academy courses eight hours a week in two classes of 54 students. We access Oracle Academy’s online platform for the curriculum, exercises and assessments.
In the first semester, we cover Database Design and Programming with SQL. In the second semester, we add Programming with PL/SQL. All our practical work is done through the Oracle Application Express (APEX) software development platform, where students create databases and tables, drop in data, make relationships and write realistic queries against the database. We also use APEX for their final exams.
In addition to my classroom teaching, I also run bootcamps, where students learn the fundamentals of database creation and programming. Many girls attend these bootcamps. I introduce them to the Alice and Greenfoot environments as a way into Java programming, and they love creating 3-D animations and learning coding skills with these tools.
At VTA we strongly encourage girls to seek careers in ICT. I regularly take them to events such as Oracle Academy Girls in ICT Day at Oracle Colombo, in which I have participated for many years.
Oracle Academy: What happens when students graduate?
Rohini Chandralatha: Our students follow the NVQ Level-4 Program diploma level courses, which results in a National Certificate in Information Communication Technology. With this, they go into the workplace or continue higher education studies. Many spend six months as interns with ICT companies and are job ready once they pass their final exams. They generally find work as web developers, database administrators, or software testers, or positions in multimedia, networking and systems engineering.
In a developing country such as Sri Lanka, having access to technology is a privilege. Having free access to the world’s leading technology vendor is a boon.
Oracle Academy: Do you help prepare any of them for Oracle certification?
Rohini Chandralatha: In 2020 for the first time I will be preparing students to take the Java Foundations Certified Junior Associate certification at the end of this school year in December. I’m hoping they will sit the exams in Pearson VUE centers in Colombo.
Oracle Academy: What advice would you give to other vocational teachers?
Rohini Chandralatha: I would recommend any educational institutional to become an Oracle Academy member. For teachers, the Oracle Academy online platform is a godsend because it frees us up from onerous class preparation. It’s all there: curriculum teaching materials, exercises and solutions, delivery guides and assessments.
Furthermore, it’s easy to stay up to date because as the IT field broadens day-by-day, Oracle experts keep us constantly alert through postings, newsletters, webinars and more.
Oracle Academy: What new technologies do you consider vital for the future?
Rohini Chandralatha: I am excited about the courses Oracle Academy has developed for Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning in Java; the new Oracle Cloud Free Tier offering available throught the Oracle Academy Cloud Program; and anything connected to networking. For me, AI is the future. I have been keeping up with AI for the past five years and this year will train 2-3 VTA colleagues as instructors as well.
Thank you, Miss Rohini Chandralatha, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.