Tanzania, Mozambique Make Open Distance Education Pact

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) and Instituto Superior de Cienciase Educacao a Distancia (ISCED) from Mozambique have entered an agreement that will create the ability for students and staff to change places, allowing the use of Kiswahili and Portuguese languages to take place in both countries.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Elifas Bisanda discussed the evidence showing the number of students who are coming from Mozambique in order to learn Kiswahili in a speech made during a ceremony held outside at the OUT premises in Dar es Salaam.

“For starters Tanzania and Mozambique have a long bilateral history and so it only made sense to partner with an institution from there. Two, we are increasingly seeing students coming from there to learn Kiswahili and we feel it makes more sense to send teachers there and the impact will be bigger.  Students who want to learn Portuguese will also benefit from this,” he said.

Bisanda went on to say that the five-year partnership will begin immediately, with the next step in the process being to ready service levy agreements pertaining to a number of logistics such as how many lecturers will be involved, writes Masembe Tambwe for AllAfrica.com.

Additional areas of collaboration include technology transfer, particularly in the areas of software and hardware for people with disabilities, such as those with visual impairments.

“During the visit earlier this week, our friends from Mozambique were visibly impressed with the gadgets for those visually impaired and expressed their interest to partner in this area because such technology isn’t yet widespread,” he said.

The ISCED Director General, Prof Domingos Chidassicua, said he was nervous due to the newness of open distance learning in Mozambique, adding that the effort was the way of the future and the right decision to make.

Meanwhile, the National Open University of Nigeria Vice-Chancellor, Prof Abdallah Uba Adamu, said that as education moves more toward an open distance learning model, there is a need to begin a Diaspora Africa initiative that would allow people working in other countries to register for school online and study at a school located in their home country while abroad rather than enrolling in foreign open universities.

Education in Tanzania is provided by both the public and private sectors.  While government primary schools teach in Kiswahili, private primary schools are available, for a fee, that teach in English.  Other ethnic community languages are not allowed.  Education is required for students who have reached the age of seven.

With a literacy rate of 48%, the education system in Mozambique is divided into three sections, primary, secondary, and higher education.  Despite the country having a national education system, a number of educational programs and initiatives are funded and supported by the international community.  As of 2009, there are still not enough schools and teachers in the country to guarantee education for all the children growing up there.  It is believed that 60% of the population are unable to read or write, with the illiteracy rate higher for women.