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Electronic Document Preparation Management: To be or not to be mandatory?

Should an IT subject be mandatory for entry into tertiary education, and also for the world of work?

A random, unrepresentative sampling was done to get a feel of the opinion of persons about this topic.

Here are some unedited responses.
• “In my school, an IT subject is mandatory. You either take EDPM or IT (Computer Science) depending on your leaning”.
• “I think that EDPM should be mandatory but not IT (Computer Science)”.
• “I think that IT (Computer Science) should be mandatory”.
• “I moved my daughter from one school to another school because I was told that doing EDPM depended on which third form class you got into. EDPM is a must for me.  Now my daughter is doing EDPM and she uses the Internet even to complete her assignments. I am happy now”.

Statistical information received from the Examination Department of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology indicated the following concerning EDPM (Electronic Document Preparation and Management and IT (Computer Science) in the schools in Antigua and Barbuda for the period 2011 to 2015:

a) There is a significant increase in the number of persons doing EDPM and IT compared to the number doing Maths - a low of 52% in 2011 to a high of 70% in 2015.
b) There is a significant increase in the number of persons doing EDPM and IT compared to the number doing English - a low of 61% in 2011 to 74% in 2015.
c) Maths and English by virtue of the high numbers are mandatory - in 2013, entries for Maths were 1704 and for English, the entries were 1391. There is a similar trend for the other four years.
Conclusion - EDPM or IT is not Mandatory in Antigua and Barbuda.

The fact that all secondary school students are not taking an IT centric subject is unsatisfactory and untenable for a country with a clearly articulated goal of becoming the “ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE OF THE CARIBBEAN”.

Based on an analysis of the EDPM syllabus and discussion with an EDPM teacher, the skills which are honed and developed through the EDPM programme include the following:
• Typing skills
• Office Suite Skills
• Internet Skills

Here are therefore ten (10) reasons why EDPM should be mandatory in the secondary schools.

Ten (10) Reasons why EDPM should be mandatory
1) Typing Skills - EDPM requires that a student not only types at a speed of 60 words per minute, but also must type with an accuracy of 60% and properly lay out a document. We commend those who are able to type at impressive speeds with two fingers; however, EDPM demands much more. Unarguably, accurate speed typing is an invaluable tool for tertiary education and the world of work. Office Suite Skills
2) Word Skills - Report writing requires Word Skills. What is even more impressive is when you can combine Word Skills and Excel Skills in one document.
3) Excel Skills - Complex arithmetic, statistical and engineering calculations become “a piece of cake” by the mere application of Excel functionalities.
4) Power Point Skills - the ability to prepare engaging attractive slides which captivate and maintain the attention of your audience cannot be seen as optional.
5) Outlook Skills - sending and receiving documents whether Word, Excel or Power Point is also not optional.
6) Publisher Skills - whether it is a banner, business card or certificate, no office can function effectively without skills in the use of Publisher. Internet Skills
7) Internet for Research - The virtual library has outstripped the brick and mortar library. Who goes to the library to find out the spelling of a word or the date when Martin Luther King was born?
8) Internet for Distance Education - What topic can you not find on You-tube delivered by a competent communicator.  More importantly, between 2002 and 2012, the number of online degrees has moved from 32.5 % to 62.5%, almost doubled. The number of students currently enrolled in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) is staggering. Coursera alone now boasts 2.7 million users from 196 different countries, with 1.4 million course enrollments each month.
9) Internet for Business - the E-commerce success of Amazon.com attests to the importance of doing business on the Internet. Amazon.com recorded 7 billion sales in 2014, and locally E-commerce is pervasive.
10) Internet for Communication - who would question the pervasiveness of the use of the Internet of communication. The total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from nearly 3.9 billion accounts in 2013 to over 4.9 billion accounts by the end of 2017. This represents an average annual growth rate of about 6% over the next four years.  Social Networking will grow from about 3.2 billion accounts in 2013 to over 4.8 billion accounts by the end of 2017. In addition, tools such as Skype, Viber, Magic Jack and Tango, to mention just a few, have simply transformed our world.

The overall goal of the EDPM program, as mentioned previously, is to hone the ten (ten) skills mentioned above for optimal productivity. The Computer Science or IT adds an additional component namely computer language and software engineering.

a) There is indeed something significant about the ten (10) skills mentioned above that is inescapable.
a. They are interdisciplinary and cross disciplinary, and they are invaluable for functioning in today’s IT Centric World.
b. Collectively, they have become the new communication system-the new accepted language.
c. They represent problem solving tools to address any situation
Responses “a” to “d“ to represent the same criteria which have caused English and Mathematics to be mandatory.

Then how could we deny EDPM to be listed among the courses which are mandatory

In this discussion, we have shared the strong feelings of some persons concerning an IT centric subject being mandatory; we have gleaned from the statistics from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology that as recent as 2015 EDPM is not mandatory, however we have demonstrated that overwhelming pervasiveness of IT centric competencies in today’s world based on an analysis of the EDPM syllabus. The conclusions are inescapable; therefore, the next move is yours.

We strongly advise that you do NOT take the action of removing your child from his/her school.  What we do advise is that you encourage the POLICY MAKERS to make EDPM for the world of work and entry into tertiary education, soonest.

But wait a minute.  “Youth is lost on the young” is a pertinent statement here. The young people will acquire the IT skills whether EDPM is mandatory or not.  The real challenge is the persons in strategic positions