Bridging the Azores Islands with Cisco Networking Academy
During his extensive career, José António Contente has worn many hats—as an educator, man of science, and government official. A former university teacher, he holds a degree in geology and biology from the University of the Azores and a master's degree in methodology of sciences from Lisbon University. His teaching experience includes working in secondary education and at the University of the Azores, where he was head of the Science Education Department. Mr. Contente also served as secretary for housing and infrastructures in the Azores government. Despite his many different roles, his focus has been unwavering: to enhance the lives of Azores people through the pursuit of education, science, technology, and innovation.
Ideally Suited to Azores Educational Goals
Establishing Cisco Networking Academy in the Azores in 2006 made perfect sense to the regional secretary, given Azores's top three priorities for education:
"Instituting Networking Academy seemed to us a natural way for our technological growth and for the preparation of new generations, according to internationally accredited standards and benchmarks provided by Cisco. Ultimately, the great aim of education is the improvement of qualifications and skills of our citizens," Mr. Contente says.
Most of the Azores' young people are placed in training programs for dual certification: academic and professional. "These young people," says Mr. Contente, "are extremely open to the introduction of new technologies, and the Azores has some of the highest European rates of broadband access to the Internet. These conditions are well suited for international-level training in new technologies."
Benefits for Teachers and Students Alike
Both students and instructors benefit from the unique foundation of Networking Academy. Mr. Contente explains it this way: "The e-learning training system that underlies the operation of Networking Academy allows teachers and students to respond to a variety of educational contexts and rhythms of teaching and learning needs."
Cisco's efforts to continually enhance and update Networking Academy pay dividends as well. "Given the investment of continuous improvement that Cisco puts into Networking Academy, the educational community has access— facilitated and updated— to the best and most innovative developments worldwide in ICT training," Mr. Contente says.
Networking Academy Is Different and Better
According to the regional secretary, Networking Academy is different and better than other programs. It is an international network of academies that shares the same platform, with constantly updated content providing easy and instant access for all its users. Mr. Contente says, "Trainers have access and work on electronic platforms that promote collaborative projects and the creation of genuine learning communities in cyberspace."
With the implementation of Networking Academy, the region has modernized ICT training facilities and provides a great asset for learners of initial training systems: In addition to a certificate in the normal course students attend, they also receive a recognizable certificate for the international job market. Further, Networking Academy provides a new opportunity to continually update or retrain all members of the regional labor market who have already been certified.
Recommendation for His Peers
When asked whether he would recommend Networking Academy to his colleagues in other regions in his country and around the world, Mr. Contente responded, "Everyone who has been involved with Networking Academy in the Azores has been enriched by this very well-organized and easy-to-implement type of training. It provides excellent educational and training feedback, not only for our youth, but also for educators who want to stand up to the challenges of new technologies and new training methodologies."