Letter From the Field (12 Months)

Letter From the Field (12 Months)

Rosaleen Smyth, from Canberra ACT, is lecturing in English at RUCO in Iringa, Tanzania.

I have finished one academic year at Ruaha University College (RUCO) in Iringa, a small town in the southern highlands of Tanzania. RUCO, a constituent college of Saint Augustine’s Catholic University, was established in 2005 and offers courses in Law, Information and Telecommunications Technology, and Education and a special diploma course for laboratory technicians. It currently has about 1,500 students with the majority enrolled in the law degree. A business stream is to be added in the coming academic year. RUCO has a very practical mix of subjects directly tailored to the professional needs of Tanzania at this stage of its development.

The BA (Education) was just introduced and is dedicated to improving teaching standards in secondary schools. I was the only English lecturer in the past academic year when we had an enrolment of 118 students. Another English lecturer and a trainee assistant are set to join me for the 2009-10 academic year. The resources are very limited, and I rely on the whiteboard rather than PowerPoint which becomes a bit problematic when it comes to drawing phonetic symbols, especially with my decadent handwriting. The library is sparse with only one copy of most of the texts so I produce copious lecture notes which I hand out to the wonderful Josephine Mrope who arranges to get them photocopied so that the students buy the copies.

The RUCO students (with the usual exceptions) are quite inspiring in the way that they cope with the kind of problems not faced by students I have taught at universities in Australia, Dubai and Taiwan. They don’t have the luxury of a PC or laptop, the computers at the university are few in number and the Internet connection is rather slow. My students are a mix of school leavers and those who have spent some years teaching in the secondary schools and have now received grants to upgrade their qualifications. I am particularly impressed by the teachers who know what the problems are like in the secondary schools and yet they still seem to have a spirit of dedication to the teaching profession and apply themselves keenly to their studies.

As an Australian citizen in this age of globalisation I think it is particularly important that we make these people-to-people connections with people on the other side of the digital divide who don’t live cushioned by welfare safety nets. It is not just a matter of the transfer of skills but of acquiring a greater appreciation of the lives of others in this interconnected world.

Dear Prof Smyth,
As individual I came to realize that we owe much from you, for your kindness, instruction and facilitation. You mean every student to conceptualize your lecture and real you employ vivid examples to make student conceive a lesson ,quite different from other intellectuals of your grade. When I told my brother who studied in America, he said to me that I am very lucky to have you because professors and other lecturers always are there to direct not to lead someone to comprehend the lesson. I wish I could be able to convince the Board that you may stay for 15 years to come, so that what we keep benefiting from you could also be shared by other prospective students. Let me not make you tired with this sort of disorganised writing. May God bless you abundantly. I have real enjoyed all your lesson and I and my fellow students are eager that sometime to come we will be model through hard work.
It’s me, Davis Meckfason Moye (BA.Ed)

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