1 February 2013

Tanzania: Kibira University Strives to Promote Academic Excellence

Bukoba — THE opening of the Josiah Kibira University (JoKUCo), and the Bukoba branch of the Cardinal Rugambwa University College, is a landmark in the region's development Kagera Regional Commissioner, Fabian Massawe said that the launching of the University is a major relief to students and assured the government's support to religious institutions to promote better education in the country.

"Religious institutions are key stakeholders of education as they have been in the frontline in providing better education and other social services. The government will make sure that it continues to recognise and support their efforts," he said. On his part, the Bukoba Auxiliary Bishop for Roman Catholic, Methodius Kilaini advised universities owned by ELCT and the Catholic church to collaborate by exchanging lecturers and tutors as a way of honouring the cooperation founded by the first African Bishop of ELCT Josiah Kibira and the first African Cardinal of Roman Catholic, Laurian Rugambwa who worked tirelessly to promote education among the poor and marginalised groups.

JoKUCo Deputy Pro-Vost Administration, Dr Abednego Keshomshahara said the university started operations on October 7, last year, as a Constituent College of the Tumaini Makumira University, until when registration processes will be completed. JoKUCO was officially launched on January 12, this year. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania of the North- West Diocese (ELCT-NWD) has converted Nyakato Teachers' College into a wing of Tumaini University The university is named Josiah Kibira University College (JoKUCo) in honour of the first black African Bishop of the North-Western Diocese of the ELCT-NWD, who served it from 1964 to 1987.

Bishop Josiah Kibira was the first African and Tanzanian to be elected President of the World Federation of Churches (WFC) from 1972 to 1982. Josiah Kibira was also a teacher and first deputy headmaster of the Diocese's first secondary school, Nyakato, under a Swedish missionary earlier in the 1950s. According to Dr Keshomshahara, JoKUCo will initially offer degree programmes in three areas, namely B.A. with Education (B.A. Educ), B.A. Educ. and Diploma in Information Technology with initial intake of 400 students.

"This aims at supporting the government in mitigating the shortage of secondary school science teachers, a concern that points to a serious development setback in our country," he said. It is anticipated that in three to five years more degree programmes will follow as the university continues to grow. These will be in business administration, ICT and law. During his recent tour of Kagera Region, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda commended the Bukoba Catholic Diocese for its immense contribution in improving people's lives through various sectors including health and education.

Mr Pinda made the recommendation during the official burial of the late Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa and Consecration of the Bukoba Cathedral. He also paid tribute to the late Cardinal Rugambwa, describing him as a true son of Africa and a patriot who offered his whole life to serve all Tanzanians. He noted that the government appreciated the big contribution made by the late Cardinal Rugambwa, through construction of Rubya and Mugana hospitals, which were designated centres for Muleba and Misenyi districts, respectively.

He also said the late Cardinal Rugambwa made efforts to provide girls with quality education by constructing Rugambwa Girls' Secondary School. The Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements, Prof Anna Tibaijuka, is among the first products of Rugambwa Girls High School. The Bukoba branch of the St Augustine University has been re-named Cardinal Rugambwa University College, in honour of the late Cardinal.

This was announced by Bukoba Catholic Bishop Nestorius Timanywa, during the official burial of the late Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa and Consecration of the Bukoba Cathedral. Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa, who in 1960 became the first African Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, died on December 8, 1997 in Dar es Salaam at the age of 85. His elevation to the College of Cardinals by Pope John XX111 was a signal of the church's recognition of its debt to its non-European clergy and of the growing importance of Catholic congregation in parts of the world that had once been the domain of European missionaries.

Cardinal Rugambwa was an early and active participant in the Second Vatican Council. He also stressed the importance of involving the lay community in the work of the church. "In the missions, where separation is a fact of everyday life, we have to be ready to cooperate with non-Catholics in all possible ways. The church is neither a museum nor an archive, but a teacher of life," he explained.

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