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THE Salvation Army’s Shukrani International College of Business Management and Administration in Tanzania has undergone many changes in recent years. Originally the college offered only secretarial courses but now – as is clear from its recently changed name – it is branching out into office administration, marketing and business management.
The college’s mission statement says it seeks ‘to provide quality, affordable, career-oriented education at a national and international standard in a Christian environment without discrimination; to produce graduates who are employable and entrepreneurial, and able to contribute to the development of Tanzania and other African countries; to provide consultancy and advisory services to the private and public sectors in our areas of expertise; [and] to provide special opportunities for the disabled, orphans and the deprived marginalised’.
Major Christine Watson, college principal, explains: ‘We are doing our best to offer courses that are practical in orientation, with high employability so that students are competent and experienced in facets of their course before going out into the workforce.’
She adds: ‘Because of the government’s strategy to encourage the setting up of small businesses to help people overcome poverty, all our diploma level students study entrepreneurship or small business management. Our hope is that if students are not able to find employment then they will have the skills to make a comfortable living by setting up and running a small business.’
In her ‘Principal’s welcome note’ on the college’s website (www.shukranicollege.ac.tz) Major Watson writes: ‘Since the foundation of the college in 1995, the motto has been “Quality Education and Services”. I have embraced this motto and along with the college team we do our best to deliver education of a high standard.’
Some of the methods are practical but could be seen as slightly unorthodox.
Entrepreneurship tutor Mr Sam Ogwang, a former university lecturer in Uganda, is himself a manager of some small businesses and he is able to share his experiences with the students. In the photographs shown here he is teaching the students the practicalities of chalk-making.
Before reaching this practical stage the students conducted a marketing analysis, finding out how many schools and learning institutions there are in the Mbeya area – where the college is situated – and how many use chalk. They worked out the start-up costs of materials and equipment, and even conducted research so they know how to test for water content and chalk hardness. They calculated the time of a chalk production cycle and made allowances for chalk breakage. It was a great experience and suddenly the theory of business plans and market analysis makes sense because they have put them into practice.
When asked about the chalk-making task, the students were mainly positive. One participant, Joshua, said: ‘I liked the workshop because I now know how to make chalk and I am confident that I could run a chalk-making business in the future. I like it when we “do” things in class – I learn best from practical lessons and can remember them better than just learning theory.’ Another student, Sarah, agreed: ‘I liked it very much,’ she said. ‘I would like very much to have a chalk-making business.’
One student, Herbert, had practical concerns that showed how the project is forcing the students to ask the right questions. He told Major Watson: ‘It was very good, but if I want to start a business in chalk-making, where do I get the capital for start-up costs?’
This sort of practical experience means Shukrani International College graduates have a history of getting into employment very quickly but Major Watson acknowledges that these are particularly tough times. ‘If our students are unable to get employment,’ she says, ‘we pray they will find a way to make a good living by running a business. Here at Shukrani International College we are doing our best to equip them for the future, whatever it may be.’
These photos show the process of chalk-making, from initial calculations and the weighing and mixing of ingredients right through to the satisfying moment when the sticks of chalk can be removed from the mould
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© 2013 The Salvation Army