The Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) is embarking on an educational project that will see the establishment of an Anglican university in the country.
The institution to be known as St. John’s University is set tentatively to start operating in September 2006 and will be located in Dodoma, capital city of Tanzania.
“Starting a university is a crucial enterprise to the future of our nation and our people,” said Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Primate of ACT in a fundraising appeal for the project.
The churches’ role in education was critically weakened when the government in the late 1960s nationalized all church social services institutions. However, through the network of its 19 dioceses, ACT has been trying to regain its educational initiative by building new secondary and primary schools.
Youth are a huge proportion of the church, hence the project is a concrete outreach to them. “It was exiting to see the enthusiasm and excitement for a post secondary education by the delegates especially the youth who attended the ACT 13th general synod,” said Jill Cruse, the Anglican Church of Canada?s mission coordinator for Africa who visited Tanzania recently.
The university project is seen by Tanzanians as a road to self-reliance. ?They see the project as a way of increasing their capacity so as to control their own destinies,? said Ms Cruse.
As a way forward, in June 2005, the government handed over to the church Mazengo secondary school that had been taken by the government during the nationalization process. The school will be used as the headquarters of the proposed university.
The university will have both secular and theological academic programs offered in the first five years. ?This will increase our partnership with Tanzania as they will require instructional staff professors to start the programs running,? said Ms Cruse.
Ms Cruse was invited to attend the 13th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania and to visit other projects and programs run by the church.
The Anglican Church of Canada supports ACT with grants for meetings such as the general synod. Through the scholarship program, the Anglican church also provides bursaries to enable students to attend seminaries in Africa and Canada.
Some graduates have gone on to become bishops and seminary professors. Currently Rev. Bethuel Mulula from diocese of Central Tanganyika is studying at Wycliffe College in Toronto, for a Master?s Degree in Divinity.
During her visit,(Sep.28-Oct.24) Ms. Cruse met with Joanne Chaytor, a Volunteer in Mission (VIM) from the diocese of Newfoundland and Labrador. Ms. Chaytor is working as an assistant to the general secretary of ACT, Rev. Mwita Akiri. She completed her three-week Swahili language course and began her work on Oct. 17.
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