The Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) recently released a Bishops' Appeal and fundraising plan for the establishment of a new Anglican University.
The University - to be called St. John's University of Tanzania - will be located in Dodoma in Central Tanzania. Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania and the location of the headquarters of the ACT. The University will also have branches throughout the country and will be linked to existing institutions within and outside the ACT such as hospitals, colleges and Bible Schools. Ideally, the University will enrol its first students by September 2006.
In their appeal, the Bishops of Tanzania presented four reasons for undertaking this new project. First, the University would help to re-establish the Church's role in the provision of social services to the community, a role which was critically weakened by the nationalisation policies of the 1960s. Through its network of 19 diocese, the ACT has been trying to reinvigorate its activities by building new secondary and primary schools. "The establishment of an Anglican University," say the Tanzanian Bishops, "will be a visible apex of a regained initiative."
Second, as a young and developing nation, Tanzania's educational needs are growing rapidly. In order to address these needs, the government of Tanzania has invited the private sector - including religious institutions - to establish, own and run schools and educational institutions. The Bishops believe that "it is important for the ACT to recognise the Government's generosity and seize the opportunity to participate in the provision of education at the highest level."
Third, as the government of Tanzania promotes primary and secondary education, the number of secondary school graduates is increasing tremendously. These graduates must be afforded the opportunity of a university education to prepare them "to play a key role in ensuring that Tanzania is able to cope with the religious, social, and economic demands of our time as well as the challenges of globalisation and information technology."
Fourth, the creation of an Anglican University is part of the Anglican national education policy endorsed by the General Synod of 2002. This policy "recognises that a young nation such as Tanzania needs a well trained work force and good leaders for today and tomorrow who also have reverence for God." Equally, the training of pastors prepared both to minister to the spiritual needs of their congregations and to attend to their parishioner's wider social aspirations will have to take place in a university setting. With these goals in view, the University will offer degrees in theology and religious studies, and will also offer Church professional degrees and degrees in a variety of secular disciplines.
The Bishops of Tanzania aim to raise 30 billion Tanzania Shillings (approximately $30 million) to cover initial University costs. The Bishops will be raising these funds from members of the ACT, from local and international organisations, and from friends overseas.
Full text of the Bishops' appeal can be found here