Kenyans who participated in a pilot version of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Software Developer Exam (SDE) and related examinations of aspiring entry level software developers scored higher than their counterparts from the rest of the world.
According to Philip L Miller, project scientist at CMU, the examination tests programming skills needed by entry level developers. Over the past year CMU and its spin-off company, Proxcer, have conducted 1,300 exams for aspiring software developers.
“If results from all 1,300 exams could be directly compared then Kenyan performance is even better; with Kenyans scoring far above the world average. This is surprising because everyone agrees that the Kenyans, along with Carnegie Mellon students and several other groups, took the hardest test of the bunch,” said Miller in a report.
“Because the tests were not identical such conclusions, though illustrative and thought provoking, do not rest on solid statistical foundations.”
Kenyans who took the test did almost as well as those in the United States and India, but when Carnegie Mellon computer science majors are removed from the data set they performed better than their counterparts from the rest of the world.
The report however cautions against overreacting to the findings, because the Software Developer Exam pilots attracted only 125 test takers.
Additionally, there was no random sample of aspiring software developers, meaning all volunteers were tested, and so it is possible that only the very best programmers were tested while the very worst programmers took the test elsewhere.
Chipuka is a certification programme for software developers targeting entry-level developers in colleges. A project led by ICT Authority, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, it was launched in September 2011 and will offer an authentic examination to software developers come January 2014.