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Africa University to open Mozambique satellite campus

Workers install a satellite dish on the roof of United Methodist Mozambique Annual Conference offices in Maputo.
Workers install a satellite dish on the roof of United Methodist Mozambique Annual Conference offices in Maputo. The site is one of five planned distance learning campuses of Zimbabwe-based Africa University. UMNS photos by John Gordon.

By Joey Butler*
Nov. 8, 2007 | MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS)

Mozambique:  Hope in Education
Since opening in 1992, Africa University has grown at an astounding rate, with 1,300 students now enrolled at the United Methodist-related school in Zimbabwe.

Today, education and church leaders agree the university is too big to be contained in one country.

In 2008, Africa University's first satellite campus will open in Maputo. The project is a collaborative effort with the Methodist University of So Paulo, Brazil, and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Funding comes from the Methodist Global Education Fund for Leadership Development.

"Africa University is ready to move up to the second phase to expand into west, central and east Africa," said Ken Yamada, special assistant to board chief executive the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino. "Africa University was always designed to serve all the people of Africa. We hope to create a model in Mozambique for the rest of Africa."
Maputo is the first of five planned satellite campuses for Africa University. Other proposed sites are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Cte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

Distance learning

The Mozambique Distance Learning project is housed in the offices of the Mozambique Annual Conference. The classroom has 20 new computers, with plans for future expansion. Classes from Africa University will be beamed to the Maputo site via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna.

Bishop Joo Somane Machado
"Now we have a room and computers,
and a dish for the satellite education,"
says Bishop Joo Somane Machado.
Enrollment will begin with about 40 students divided into morning and evening sessions. Initial classes will be in theological education and public health. Future classes will focus on public administration, accounting, agriculture and nursing. Since Mozambique’s native language is Portuguese, curriculum was developed at the Methodist University in So Paulo.

Higher education is hard to come by in Mozambique. There are only a few public universities and a lot of competition for would-be enrollees. Private universities are too expensive for many Mozambicans.

"Satellite learning will be most beneficial and gives students the freedom to work and attend classes at the same time," said Eduardo Namburete, a staff member of the Mozambique Annual Conference and coordinator of the satellite campus. "This will be a remarkable change for the people of this country."

Namburete says while the satellite campus will benefit mostly Maputo residents, a physical teaching facility is being built in Cambine, about 300 miles away.

"Our idea is not to serve only those living in the capital, but most importantly to serve those in the rural areas who cannot afford higher education," he said.
Martin Dwomoh-Tweneboah
Martin Dwomoh-Tweneboah assembles desks for the distance learning center.

They plan to charge less than the private universities. "We want to make a difference and one of the ways to do so is to make education affordable for those who need it," said Namburete.

Fulfilling a dream

"This is the realization of a dream for us," said Nodumo Dhlamini, director of Africa University’s information and communication technology department. "For the first time we are going to have a physical presence in another country. Now the student who is not free to go to Zimbabwe can take courses where they are."

Bishop Joo Somane Machado of the Mozambique Area shares Dhlamini’s enthusiasm.

"Our first dream was to see the infrastructure here. Now we have a room and computers and a dish for the satellite education. This will cut a year off the time our students must spend at Africa University because it takes them a year to learn English. This will make Africa University a multi-language university now."

*Butler is managing editor of Interpreter magazine, the official magazine of The United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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