Arusha — THE term, 'Ward Executive officer' always sounds better when said in English but its Kiswahili translation, 'Katibu Kata' does not benefit from same merits and may sometimes even be used as a mockery by some people.
"Yet 'Katibu Katas' happen to be the most important components of community development since they are the officials who directly supervise social advancement projects at grassroots levels," stated Dr Suma Kaare the Principal for the MSTraining Centre for Development Cooperation which is hatching new programme aimed at providing tailor made training programmes for local Ward Executive Officers.
With many lacking education, the local Ward Executive have always been regarded to be synonymous with 'ignorance,' and everything 'old-fashioned,' but recent developments in Arusha are set to change that mentality.
According to Dr Kaare, unless the importance of 'Katibu Katas' get realized and valued, development projects in the country will continue to hit snag.
But how does the MSTCDC plan to go about this new and country's first WEOs training? "The MS TCDC will start two new courses; Diploma in Governance and Development that is accredited by NACTE and a Master of Science in Governance and Leadership being offered in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology(JKUAT).
JKUAT is a leading Kenyan university which recently established its Tanzanian campus in Arusha.
The University has been running similar programmes in the neighbouring country and according to Dr Iravo Mike Amuhaya the Nairobi Campus Director, many people who wouldn't fit in other mainstream courses, benefitted.
"We have an initial intake of 28 students in the Diploma in Governance and Development half of which are carrying out their studies here at the main centre in Usa-River, while another half is taking evening classes at the newly established Arusha Town campus.
Speaking at the inaugural intake of the Master of Science in Governance and Leadership the MSTCDC principal explained that the purpose of the Masters of Science in Governance and Leadership is to give an opportunity to the people of Tanzania and Africa in general to build their capacity and improve performance in the labour market.
Somehow in between the demanding programme, MS-TCDC will squeeze in tailor made training package for people in public service and these include Ward Executive Officers, Policemen and such, Jomo Kenyatta did a successful orientation of police officers in Kenya and soon the cops in Tanzania will also benefit.
But on the other hand, "The individuals who go through this course have better chances at employment as well as being able to influence the social and political processes where they come from," pointed out Dr Kaare.
According to the Principal, those who have made it to the programme had to undergo some rigorous selection process. "We had over 120 applicants who were interested. Out of this, over 70 were selected in the initial round.
However, this number dipped to 50 after the application of the stringent admission criterion of our partner Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture of Technology."
In the programme, MS-TCDC is bringing to bear over 45 years of experience in offering short professional development courses and adding in the process to the growing numbers of the products of the centre that are impacting lives all over the world as they serve in various political, social and economic spheres.
"We have adopted affirmative action policies so that these courses can benefit Tanzanians. In this regard, MS TCDC has invested USD 174,000 equivalent to 278 million/- in floating scholarships to support students from needy backgrounds to access the course," pointed out Dr Kaare.
She maintained that the scholarships were made open to all applicants and a transparent process applied to their allocation and a number of Tanzanians and other people from the region have benefited from the scholarships and we continue to work hard to secure additional resources to support the scholarships programme in the coming years. "We continue to face challenges in two major fronts.
One is the need for innovative delivery methods for this Masters course including provision for evening classes and online study. I hope our partner Jomo Kenyatta University will listen to this call and open up to discussions on how to meet the demands of this market segment!"
She took time to also address the issue of Visas or high costs associated with them; "the high cost of student visa fees that is levied by the government is prohibitive to many students from outside Tanzania who would like to come into the country to learn."
Dr Kaare added, "We have appealed to the relevant authorities and continue to appeal to them to revisit this issue so that Tanzania can become a competitive education destination in the region."
She was on view that education being a major income earner to many other countries in the world, the review of student visa fees here may see Tanzania start benefiting from the education sector by attracting applicants from as far as overseas in the same way that the country attracts foreign tourists.