Case Study II. CISCO Systems Networking Academy


The Cisco Systems Networking Academy, established in 1997, is an ICT training programme with locations worldwide.  It teaches students to design, build, and maintain computer networks, and prepares them for industry-standard certification as networking professionals.


In 1993, Cisco began to design practical, cost-effective networks for schools. It quickly became apparent that designing and installing the networks were not enough. There was a need to maintain the networks. Cisco then started training teachers and staff on network maintenance. The teachers were eager to learn more; consequently Cisco established the Networking Academy Program.

To increase female enrolment, CISCO uses female role models in advertisements and promotional materials. The curriculum also includes a training module on gender equality, and the women also receive training in management, entrepreneurship, and gender issues.


Courses are available at approximately 9,000 local academies in 165 different countries. Courses differ between countries, and they target the specific needs of a population or region. As a contributing programme to the Least-Developed Countries Initiative, the Cisco Gender Initiative educates young women about careers in information technology as a means of eradicating poverty and supporting economic development. The program offers flexible class times, with courses available globally, as well as online, to help women overcome barriers found in many continuing education programs.


Cisco partners with global, regional, and local organizations to better promote the Networking Academy and to further achieve its goals.  Some of these partners include:

  • International Telecommunication Union – a partnership to enable and extend access to ICT education for young people, particularly women and girls, through scholarships.  Through this partnership, 70 new Internet Training Centers in developing countries have been established since the beginning of the partnership in 2001.
  • Institute of International Education – This partnership provides scholarships to women in Asia and North Africa to attend the Cisco Networking Academy.
  • United Nations Economic Commission – A partnership to award full scholarships to young women, who travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for training in Internet networking Technology.
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women – A partnership to improve access to ICT education for women and girls.  In Morocco, the partnership between Cisco and UNIFEM has led to the development of 11 Networking Academy sites, the training of 19 instructors and 90 women technology professionals


As of April 2010, there were approximately 900,000 active students (defined as students currently enrolled, students enrolled in a future course, and students who were enrolled in a course during the last five months). 

For more information: