Tech-MODE in Tanzania

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Contents

Executive summary


This country report outlines the opportunities and challenges for Tanzania to collaborate with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in establishing technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) in agricultural education and training. Data for this report were collected from existing research documents and through personal interviews with some of the stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

The agricultural sector in Tanzania employs approximately 85 % of the labour force. The Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025 reveals that agriculture continues to be dependent on rainfall and traditional technology, consequently, productivity is low and erratic. The low productivity partly reflects lack of creativity and innovativeness that limits full application of science and technology as well as development of the agricultural trade.

Information and communication technology (ICT) continues to play a key role in agricultural development. The current environment is highly favourable for the country to collaborate in open and distance learning (ODL) with local and international institutions. Tanzania has a national ICT policy, and many higher learning institutions have ICT policies which underscore the need for the implementation of ICT-based teaching and learning. These policies emphasise the use of ICT in the agriculture sector as well. Tanzania has the basic ICT infrastructures which can be used to provide agricultural education through ODL and Tech-MODE.

The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) offers formal degree and post-graduate education through distance learning. In addition, several residential-based universities, such as the University of Dar es Salaam, the National Correspondence Institute and the Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies, are providing some form of distance education. Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) has a potential to establish ODL programmes in collaboration with OUT, because these universities have a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in teaching, learning, consultancy and research. Furthermore, SUA is the only agricultural university with staff and vast amount of electronic teaching materials in agriculture, veterinary medicine, forest and nature conservation, science, continuing education, computer science, pest management, development studies and sustainable rural development.

Life-long learning for farming communities has started through telecentres and multi-purpose community centres. Established telecentres have shown that they are affordable and are a best method to introduce ICT sustainably at the grassroots level. Examples of telecentres are Cromabu (Mwanza), Mazingira telecentres (Shinyanga), Kilosa telecentre (Kilosa), and Kibengwe telecentre (Bukoba). These telecentres provide additional avenues for ODL and Tech-MODE.

Like other developing countries, Tanzania has many challenges and promising opportunities for the use of ODL and Tech-MODE in agricultural education, but we suggest that both public and private sector collaboration with SUA and COL can extend the potential benefits of the new initiative of ODL and Tech-MODE to Tanzanians.



Contents


Executive summary 
Principal acronyms 

 1  Background  
 2  Agriculture in Tanzania  
 3  History of open and distance learning in Tanzania  
 4  National and local policy environment on ODL and Tech-MODE  
 5  Institutional and individual capacity on ODL and Tech-MODE  
    5.1  Challenges and opportunities for ODL and Tech-MODE  
    5.2  SUA’s partnerships with other national or international organizations  
    5.3  Future plans with the ODL and Tech-MODE initiative  
    5.4  Available resources, capacity and accessibility  
 6  Agricultural education at primary and secondary schools  
 7  Institutional challenges, limitations and weaknesses  
 8  The way forward  
 9  Conclusions  
10  References  

Related information  



Principal acronyms


COL        Commonwealth of Learning 
EASSy      Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System  
FARA       Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa 
ICT(s)     information and communication technology(ies) 
ODL        open and distance learning 
OUT        Open University of Tanzania 
SSA        sub-Saharan Africa
SUA        Sokoine University of Agriculture 
TDV        Tanzania Development Vision 
Tech-MODE  technology-mediated open and distance education
TENET      Tanzania Education Network 



Acknowledgments. The Authors wish to thank all researchers whose work has been cited in this paper. The introduction part has been taken from COL. Tanzania’s agricultural background has been taken from a research project proposal of C. Sanga, Dr. S. Tumbo, Prof. L.J.M. Kusiluka and Dr. F. Kilima sent to PANTIL.




1 Background


Education, training, information, communications for agricultural research and development in combination with information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming increasingly important for agricultural production and productivity.  With its expertise in various regions of the world, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) wishes to expand technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) for agricultural education and improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

COL has its presence in SSA, particularly in the primary, secondary and higher education sectors.  COL's initiatives on agricultural education for improved livelihood are gaining importance. Similar initiatives are underway by various other organisations.  To enhance collaboration and synergy, COL wishes to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role  - preferably in coordination with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at the following levels:


  • formal degree and post-graduate education
  • continuing professional education
  • lifelong learning for farming communities
  • agricultural education at primary and secondary schools


This country report presents some background information on the current status of agricultural education and training in Tanzania and the opportunities for promoting Tech-MODE for agricultural education and development in Tanzania.



2 Agriculture in Tanzania


The agricultural sector employs approximately 85% of the labour force in Tanzania and it contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (Ministry of Agriculture, 1996; Katani, 1997; United Republic of Tanzania, 1999). The sector also plays a vital role in the agro-processing industry and trade. Statistics show that agricultural products account for 85% of exports (Kullaya et al., 1998).

The Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025 reveals that agriculture continues to be primarily dependent on rainfall and traditional technology. Consequently, productivity is low and erratic, suggesting that available natural resources have not been adequately mobilised and effectively utilised to promote sustainable agricultural development. The low productivity partly reflects lack of creativity and innovativeness that limits the full application of science and technology and the development of agricultural trade.

The development of agricultural trade in Tanzania has been hampered by many factors including lack of proper marketing policy; unregulated economic liberalisation process, and lack of appropriate information. Other factors are inefficient agricultural support services such as credit; good transport system, extension services and cheap sources of electricity and water. Lack of clear marketing and trade policies; difficult regulatory procedures and lack of strategic campaigns on investment in agricultural trade also hinder agricultural development (Bates et al., 1983). These constraints have negative impacts on market intelligence, competition and commodity prices.

Most farm-gate prices in Tanzania are usually set by retailers and middlemen depending on spot prices in urban markets. This mode of pricing is justified based on asymmetric market information (i.e., market participants do not have access to the same information because the market fails to facilitate the exchange of information). Mbwana et al. (1983) provide supportive evidence that middlemen tend to benefit more than farmers because they have more access to market information and can speculate.

ICT has continued to play a key role in agricultural development. Policy-makers, farmers, researchers, students, traders, extension workers and general community at large need appropriate information for better allocation of scarce resources; designing more effective programmes; monitoring and evaluation of the agricultural programmes; effective and efficient delivery of extension messages and technologies; and provision of quality services to their clients.

In Tanzania, agricultural information is mainly disseminated through agricultural extension officers. The information dissemination system has not been as effective as envisaged due to many reasons: the system lacks ownership by the clientele and is more over, not demand driven. There is poor coordination and linkages between farmers, extension agents and researchers. Poor intersectoral linkages and poor agricultural support services coupled with inadequate macro-economics policies and low efficiency makes sustainability of the system questionable (Rutatora et al., 2005).

The importance of agricultural information and the ineffectiveness of the current information dissemination system call for a need to assess the potential of introducing new options in ICT that are suitable for the agricultural sector and which can be easily utilized by extension officers, farmers, processors and traders. The option also demands that district agricultural offices be fully equipped with ICT and information packages, hardware and software that are user-friendly and easy to adopt within the district agricultural planning process. This emphasises the need for having learning/knowledge centres or community centres in each district.

Early establishment of telecentres and multi-purpose community centres has shown that these are the affordable way to introduce technologies sustainably at the grassroots. Examples of telecentres are Cromabu in Mwanza; Mazingira telecentres in Shinyanga; Kilosa telecentre in Kilosa and Kibengwe telecentre in Bukoba. Introducing efficient ICT for the agricultural sector shall enhance systematic data collection, collation and analysis as well as information dissemination to stakeholders to assist them in decision-making (Tutor, 2004). The use of ICT can also play a major role in an effort to identify and respond to the emerging opportunities in improving livelihoods through the agriculture sector.

Promotion of ICT has been identified as one of the driving forces for the realisation of the TDV 2025. The TDV 2025 stipulates that advanced micro-electronic ICTs are central to competitive social and economic transformation. ICT costs are continuing to fall while their capabilities and the resultant profitability enhancements are increasing. These technologies are a major driving force for the realisation of the Vision. This technology should be harnessed persistently in all sectors of the economy to benefit all social groups with a view to enabling the meeting of basic needs of the people, increasing productivity and promoting competitiveness.

Those working in remote areas need to network with more advanced knowledge / learning centres or telecentres and with each other. Such networking will also facilitate the generation of better local information to shape policies, strategic plans and tactical decisions for developing a stronger agricultural base. Tanzania has a vast and diverse agricultural resource base and can become a major player in global agricultural trade by harnessing appropriate ICT for agricultural development. In addition to facilitating improvement in efficiency and productivity, ICT can bring about an overall qualitative improvement in life by providing timely and quality information for decision-making. This is only possible when all stakeholders in the agricultural sector in Tanzania are ICT-educated.

Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), which is a resident-based university and mandated to teach, conduct research and undertake outreach programmes in agriculture, must incorporate new initiatives like ODL in order to provide education to a large number of students, extension officers and farmers. Furthermore, it needs to introduce new forms of teaching such as lifelong learning. Currently, SUA uses the face-to-face mode of instruction to teach university students, as well as television programmes, publications and classes for outreach programmes.



3 History of open and distance learning in Tanzania


The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) is a distance education institution that serves local and international students. It started in 1992 and uses the traditional method of disseminating teaching and learning materials (McHarazo and Olden, 2000). Printed course materials are delivered to students mainly by postal services. However, OUT also uses public carriers and OUT staff too deliver these materials during their visits to the regional learning centres (Perraton, 2000; McHarazo and Olden, 2000).

SUA has a potential to establish ODL programmes in collaboration with OUT because these universities have a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in teaching and research. OUT students who are in Morogoro regions normally use SUA as their main learning centre where libraries, laboratory and classrooms facilities are used during vacations.

OUT has not been the only 1 Distance Education institute, there are others including the Institute of Adult Education, the National Correspondence Institute and Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies (which is a constituent college of SUA). In 1995, the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNCR) 2 started ODL initiatives at refugees’ camps using radio and Internet through VSAT powered with solar energy.

1 http://www.col.org/forum/PCFpapers/donge.pdf 
2 http://www.unesco.org/iiep/eng/focus/emergency/guidebook/Chapter11.pdf



4 National and local policy environment on ODL and Tech-MODE


Tanzania's national ICT policy3 and SUA's ICT policy4 underscore the need for the implementation of an ICT-based ODL and Tech-MODE. The national and institutional policies place emphasis on use of ICT in the agricultural sector. Other SUA documents which are in an electronic format (e.g. prospectus5, calendars, tracer studies6, investment guide7) provide more information about the university.

All the conventional ICT infrastructures are available in Tanzania8 which include: fixed lines services, cellular mobile services, data communication services, Internet service provision, broadcasting services, and postal services. The infrastructures can facilitate the implementation of ODL and Tech-MODE. An inventory of available infrastructures and service providers in Tanzania include public fixed networks, largely those operated by TTCL and ZANTEL (mainly on copper, wireless and microwave), public mobile networks, those operated by MIC (T) Ltd., VODACOM (T) Ltd., CELTEL (T) Ltd., and ZANTEL (mainly on wireless and microwave), fibre optic networks, especially those operated by TANESCO, TAZARA, TRC, ITN and SONGAS and satellite-based networks featuring those operated by Data Service Providers.

The details of infrastructures and services offered by different internet service providers in Tanzania are shown in Tables 1-3. Table 1 gives information on fixed line and microwave system, Table 2 provides data on wireless/mobile connection, and Table 3 mainly shows satellite based connections. The data presented in these tables reveal the importance and opportunities which exist in Tanzania with regard to ICT and therefore the potential of ICT in the country.

The Internet costs might drop in future when Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) project will be implemented. EASSy is the undersea fibre optic cable that will link the countries of East Africa to the rest of the world (http://eassy.org/). Also there is another initiative to connect all the education9 institutions in Tanzania. This initiative is meant to ensure that the benefits of EASSy project will be easily realised.

The future seems to favour ICT application which will use mobile device. According to Gillwald et al. (2005) in Tanzania more people have access to mobile devices than to normal computers.

2% of all households in Tanzania have at least one working computer while 15% of all households with working computers are connected to the Internet. 44% of people in urban areas have access to mobile phones while in rural areas only 8% of people have access to mobile phones (Gillwald et al., 2005, pages 154-160).


Any new initiative like ODL and Tech-MODE, therefore must use the potential of mobile devices in facilitating teaching and learning. This is possible if blended learning and teaching can be adapted (dual mode or a mix of face-to-face and e-learning). Mobile learning has been practised for a long time in Tanzania, it has been done using radio and hard copy (books, texts books, etc). The challenge ahead is to incorporate new ICT.


Figure 1. Mode of delivery proposed for ODL and Tech-MODE to suit Tanzania’s environment is that of flexible learning as shown by Brown (2003).





3 http://www.tanzania.go.tz/pdf/ictpolicy.pdf 
4 http://www.suanet.ac.tz/cc/docs/ictpolicy2002.pdf 
5 http://www.suanet.ac.tz/prospectus.PDF 
6 http://www.suanet.ac.tz/jobsurvey.html  
7 http://www.suanet.ac.tz/investment/investment.pdf
8 http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/cybersecurity/contributions/Tanzania_Ulanga_paper.pdf 
9 http://www.wideopenaccess.net/files/webform/submission/Tenet_Kondoro_06.pdf 




Table 1. Availability of fixed connectivity in Tanzania (Adapted from Sheriff, 2006)





Table 2. Availability of wireless/mobile connectivity in Tanzania (Adapted from Sheriff, 2006)





Table 3. Availability of satellite connectivity in Tanzania (Adapted from Sheriff, 2006)




5 Institutional and individual capacity on ODL and Tech-MODE


SUA has staff with Certificate of Online Education and Training, BSc in Computer Science, BSc Electronics Science and Telecommunications, MSc Computer Science, MSc E-Commerce, BSc Computer Engineering and Information Systems and a large number of lecturers with PhD in agriculture and related fields. Thus, there are enough human resources locally available for setting up a computer networking, development, management and maintenance of e-learning system as well as the development of learning and teaching materials and contents.

There are lecturers, technicians and laboratory assistant competent in agriculture, veterinary medicine, forest and nature conservation, science, continuing education, computer science, pest management, development studies and sustainable rural development10.

Discipline areas of expertise include all areas of agriculture, such as agronomy, soil, food science and home economics, horticulture, agriculture economics and agribusiness, veterinary medicine, forest and nature conservation, science and other subjects such as continuing education, management of information system, computer science, pest management, development studies and sustainable rural development.

At SUA, the status of facilities (infrastructure) and information services in agriculture and agricultural education as outlined by Magesa & Lazaro (2006)11 is as follows:


  • The Computer Centre manages three computer laboratories (one at the main campus for undergraduate students, one at main campus for postgraduate students and one at Solomon Mahlangu Campus.
  • There are more than 500 computers running MS Windows (XP, ME, 2000 etc) and Fedora core 3.
  • More than 200 computers are connected to the Internet.
  • The university has an Internet connection using a leased copper wire from an internet service provider (256 kbps downlink and 128 kbps uplink).
  • The main campus and the Solomon Mahlangu Campus are connected via a wireless Internet connection.
  • The type of network topology at the SUA is an extended star. Its cabling is of fibre backbone, coaxial cable and UTP CAT 5.
  • The internet services which are provided to the SUA community are e-mail, file sharing, web hosting, online discussion forum, etc. These services are provided by an e-mail server, a DNS server, a DHCP server, a proxy server, a NAT server, a firewall server and a web server. These servers have been configured to run using the Fedora core 3 and the Redhat enterprise.
  • Communication and networking equipments available include a Cisco router 2600 series with hubs, switches, RAD MODEM and a VSAT. Currently, the, VSAT is not used and we aim at using it to provide a backup Internet connection, in case there is a problem with the leased copper wire.
  • The SUA has more 500 employees and more than 3000 students.


The SUA Computer Centre has a team which is committed to:


  • develop and administer e-learning platforms;
  • provide instructional design for e-learning content;
  • provide ICT literacy training for e-learning communities;
  • handle development of multimedia course materials for e-learning purposes.


10http://www.suanet.ac.tz.
11http://sdu.ictp.it/lowbandwidth/program/case-studies/cs6.ppt 



5.1 Challenges and opportunities for ODL and Tech-MODE


This section describes how the SUA can take a leading role for the implementation of ODL and Tech-MODE, taking into account the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) based on the analysis by the SUA (SUA Investment Guide, 2006)12. The SWOT analysis identified issues related to ICT.

Strengths

  • A pool of highly trained and competent human resource in agriculture, natural resources management, veterinary science, business and related fields.
  • Highly rated in the East and Southern Africa region.
  • Favourable institutional policies.
  • Adequate land available for investments.
  • Basic infrastructure available for attracting investments/outsourcing.
  • Basic infrastructure available for training, research, outreach and businesses.
  • Basic infrastructure available for ICT development.
  • Institutional Strategic Planning.


Weakness

  • Inadequate infrastructure.
  • Limited ICT facilities.
  • Limited use of available land for income generation activities.
  • Inability to fully exploit information technology for e-learning, communication and networking as well as data-base creation and management.
  • Difficulties in attracting the private sector to collaborate in offering some of the university functions, e.g., training for short courses.


Opportunities

  • Core competence in the fields of agriculture, natural resource management and related fields.
  • National, regional and global recognition.
  • Ready market for most products and services.
  • Increasing demand for agribusiness and other demand driven research and training.
  • Favourable national and institutional ICT policies.
  • The university has Television station (SUA TV) which can be used in ODL and Tech-MODE.


Threats

  • Inadequate government and donor support.
  • Stiff competition for meagre government resources.
  • Speedy globalization and low ability to cope with new paradigm of borderless education.
  • HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact on the workforce to cope.


From the SWOT analysis, it can be seen that with the strengths of having good ICT backbone and opportunities available at SUA in the policies, Tech-MODE can be implemented using low cost ICT. The threats and weaknesses mentioned can be alleviated through a collaboration with other institutions like COL. For example, a collaboration can increase ICT facilities by filling the gap on the equipment required both for distance and lifelong learning. The collaboration will also address the stiff competition of institutions on government resources.


12 http://www.suanet.ac.tz/investment/investment.pdf 



5.2 SUA’s partnerships with other national or international organizations


SUA through the Computer Centre is ready to collaborate with any organization with similar interest in ODL and Tech-MODE. Currently, the Centre collaborates with Soil Water Management Research Group at Sokoine University of Agriculture in projects related to 13Parched Thirst Computer Simulation Model (www.suanet.ac.tz/cc/PTmodel/).

We are also collaborating14 with other African universities in African Virtual Open Initiative and Resources project (AVOIR) which developed an open source e-learning system called KEWL.NextGen. The SUA participated in pilot discussion of implementing Distance Learning Material Development and Delivery in the Global Open Agriculture and Food Universi15. Furthermore, the OUT uses the SUA as learning centres, and students are taught by the SUA lecturers during vacations. Students also use the SUA library, the classrooms and the science laboratories.

In addition, the SUA has a constituent college, the Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies which offers both face-to-face and distance learning education

13 http://www.nrsp.org.uk/database/project_view.asp?projectID=299 
14 http://ics.uwc.ac.za/index.php?module=cms&action=page&id=documentrepository_38
15 http://www.openaguniversity.cgiar.org/Publications/ImplementationPlan.pdf 



5.3 Future plans with the ODL and Tech-MODE initiative


The Directorate of Computer Centre which has been given the mandate to incorporate ICT into university operations (i.e., research, teaching and consultancy) will have the task of restructuring teaching materials which are in hardcopy so that they fit ICT based distance education. In future, when DE will become operational, there is a challenge of changing the course materials for teaching and research output for outreach programmes into the national language (Swahili).

The authors recommend the establishment of a new unit within the Directorate of Computer Centre which will be responsible for ODL/Tech-MODE. We also recommend the establishment of regional study centres. The unit will have five sub-units:


  1. Instructional design sub-unit: This will support sound pedagogy in the use of technology in teaching-and-learning. Other functions of this unit will be course writing and writing techniques, developing learning resources, and reviewing and editing existing distance education materials.
  2. ICT literacy sub-unit: This will train students in computer literacy and the use of applications software.
  3. Digital multimedia sub-unit: This will provide services to supports the use of digital multimedia such as video in support of teaching and learning.
  4. Materials development sub-unit: This will be responsible for the development of manuals and simulations to support training.
  5. Administration sub unit: This will be responsible for integrating the new knowledge, maintaining administrative information, evaluating and testing distance education courses as well as administering and monitoring the function of the e-learning platform.


It is also proposed that ODL and Tech-MODE should start with institutes which are in Morogoro region, and later on we can roll to other regions. It has been proposed that the SUA Solomon Mahlangu Campus be the regional learning centre for ODL and Tech-MODE, while the study centres will be the Livestock Training Institute (LITI Morogoro) and the Ukiriguru agricultural college. There is also a need for including the Kilosa community centre. All these proposed areas have some ICT infrastructure, ICT literate lecturers and electronic course materials which should form the basis for further ODL and Tech-MODE implementation.

The functions of the proposed regional learning centre include tutoring and counselling. Also it should provide teaching and learning facilities; organize public lectures, discussion groups, workshops and seminars. In addition, it should disseminate information about ODL and Tech-MODE to different study centres.

The proposed study centres will serve as a focal point for student collaboration in project works, interaction with other students, attending seminars and tutorials, practical work and demonstrations, and for using reference materials. The study centres might be chosen either from existing secondary schools, colleges, institutes or universities, depending on the concentration of the students and the accessibility. The use of existing facilities like schools, colleges, libraries and universities would save some initial cost for project kick off. It is important that each study centre should have staff who will provide counselling and tutoring services to ODL and Tech-MODE students.



5.4 Available resources, capacity and accessibility


Availability of human and physical resources is a pre-requisite for successful distance education training. Currently, the following resources are available for distance education:

  • The SUA Computer Centre with 20 technical and administrative staff. The centre also has servers which can be used for a database server, a web server, a mail server and a file server which can be used for this initiative. It is located in Morogoro region in Tanzania 200 km from Dar-es-Salaam.
  • Telecentres16 and multi-purpose community centres found in many districts, which can be used as learning centres (e.g. Kilosa17, Sengerama18, Lugoba19).
  • Some districts and regions of Tanzania have libraries which could be used as learning centres for ODL and Tech-MODE learners. Also, libraries can be found in universities (like SUA, UDSM, OUT, etc.) which may also be used as learning centres.
  • Sharing regional centres and learning centres owned by the Open University of Tanzania (OUT). This is possible, if a prior arrangement can be made between the SUA and the OUT. The environment supports this because there is already a MOU between the SUA and the OUT.
  • Agriculture Research centres like Ilonga, LITI, Uyole and Ukiriguru can be used as teaching and learning centres for doing laboratory practical for ODL / Tech- MODE students.


16 http://community.telecentre.org/en-tc/taxonomy/term/1208
17 http://www.ics.trieste.it/Documents/Downloads/df4339.pdf
18 http://www.sengerema.or.tz/Default.htm
19 http://www.lungalugoba.or.tz/ 



6 Agricultural education at primary and secondary schools


According to Kondoro and Nungu (2006), a project called Tanzania Education Network (TENET), is a national network programme aiming at networking the higher and technical institutions, the teachers training colleges and, the secondary and primary schools in Tanzania. The TENET project is implemented in three phases in institutions namely; technical institutions, the teachers training colleges, and the secondary and primary schools. Networking of teacher training colleges has already being done through assistance from SIDA. If all the three phases of TENET project are successfully executed, Tanzania will have the best environment for the incubation and execution of ODL / Tech-MODE for formal agricultural degree and post-graduate education, continuing professional education, lifelong learning for farming communities and agricultural education at primary and secondary schools.

Another benefit of TENET is that it will enable Tanzanians to fully utilise the benefits to be provided by the EASSy project after its completion. Therefore one area which has been identified by TENET project to simplify connecting technical institutions and secondary and primary schools is through laying the back bone fibre cable throughout the country. Already initial work has started towards accomplishing the goals of TENET. The National ICT Backbone20 Network Feasibility study has been announced for companies to tender. In rural areas, where schools lack enough teachers and learning materials, e-learning21 has the potential to fill the gap.

20 http://www.evd.nl/info/zoeken/showbouwsteen.asp?bstnum=184469 
21 http://www.spidercenter.org/upl/filer/506.pdf 



7 Institutional challenges, limitations and weaknesses


Although significant amount of human and physical resources are available in Tanzania, we have challenges that need to be addressed as mentioned below by Sanga & Lwoga (2006):

  • Inadequate funds for acquiring and sustaining the ICT infrastructure and the application technologies.
  • Lack of prerequisite skills to manipulate new technology. The implementation of e-Learning programmes also requires skills in content development to repackage existing programmes and also design novel ones.
  • Lack of government policies on the role of e-Learning in education and training also poses a big challenge. National ICT policy and SUA ICT policy are enacted for general ICT implementation. There is a need for specific ICT policy for education.
  • Low bandwidth in the connectivity and speed of delivery systems in most of higher learning institutions in Africa.
  • Maximum use of22 new technologies such as open source software, free software and wireless connectivity solutions including GSM which has wide coverage in Tanzania.
  • Little coverage of electricity which increases the cost of owning ICT infrastructure.


22 http://www.wikieducator.org/ICT4Africa/Country_Report_Tanzania#Table_2:_Selected_ICT_Infrastructure_Statistics  



8 The way forward


General recommendations:


  • Free and open source e-learning software should be used in higher education to realize the potential benefits of ODL.
  • Establishment of shared ICT infrastructure for successful implementation of e-learning strategy. Infrastructure requirement is costly and requires involvement of various stakeholders. Therefore a multisectoral approach involving civil society, private sector and government is important, i.e., public private partnership.
  • A mix of face-to-face and online learning & teaching for ODL and Tech-MODE. In future, there is a need to incorporate mobile learning using mobile devices into e-learning platform. This is due to the fact that in rural areas of Tanzania, the numbers of mobile devices outweigh the number of computers. In some rural areas, there is no electricity and this hinders the adoption of using computers for ODL and Tech-MODE.
  • Training and capacity building programme should be developed for people in the educational sector, to develop ICT skills, skills on how to develop content for e-learning and how to integrate ICT in the learning environment.
  • Course contents that will be developed under this initiative (ODL and Tech-MODE) can be provided without restrictions to copyright laws as in other initiatives such as open course ware (MIT23 course ware). Open course ware is going to benefit large community (Sanga et al., 2006) of agricultural practitioners throughout the world.
  • More awareness about ODL and Tech-MODE is needed for the universities and the general community at large, so that there is recognition and accreditation of distance education certificates, diplomas and degrees like those provided in the traditional face-to-face university education system.


Recommendations for the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL)24:


  • FARA and COL should support the establishment of strong links between universities, agricultural research stations and extension offices, and with farmers through telecentres using free and open source e-learning software.
  • FARA and COL should facilitate the capacity building of support staff in the development of content and maintenance management systems. They should also help build capacity of end users in their ability to access, contribute and use of scientific and indigenous knowledge.
  • FARA and COL should support the establishment of shared ICT infrastructure for successful implementation of e-learning strategies, because infrastructure requirement is costly and requires involvement of various stakeholders.
  • FARA and COL should consider supporting the incorporation of mobile devices into e-learning platforms for mobile learning.
  • FARA and COL should support packaging and repackaging of huge and rich scientific and indigenous knowledge, which is currently lying on shelves and boxes.


23 http://ocw.mit.edu/ 
24 http://www.fara-africa.org/files/FARA%20GA%202005%20proceedings.pdf  



9 Conclusions


To conclude, it is clear that ODL and Tech-MODE promise to provide new learning opportunities which will benefit all the agricultural stakeholders in our country and other countries at large.

Recommendations made in the implementation of Tech-MODE for Ghana by Osei (2006) suit most environments of developing countries (including Tanzania) because of the similarity of institutional and country challenges, limitations and weaknesses. But for ODL and Tech-MODE to be implemented in Tanzania, the following project activities as identified by Osei (2006) must be considered in terms of materials and financial support from governments, donors and the community at large:


  • Holding a stakeholders meeting to discuss the roles, and responsibilities, verifying objectives and define activities to be conducted.
  • Conducting a participatory needs assessment survey to understand farmers’ information needs and their use of relevant media.
  • Discussing the use of relevant media, in support of the delivery system.
  • Training instructional developers to develop appropriate local content for delivery to target groups.
  • Training facilitators in the use of instructional materials.
  • Facilitating the broadcast of agricultural programmes and participation of extension officers and farmers in radio and television discussions.
  • Facilitating farmer-groups to access agricultural information through radio and audio cassette recorders, Internet forums and discussion groups.
  • Facilitating the establishment of more learning centres and telecentres which can be used as access point for agricultural information to the whole community.
  • Providing a lifelong learning and ODL to enhance campus-based learning to many students.



10 References


Bates, Robert H. 1983. The regulation of rural markets in Africa

Brown, T. 2003. The role of m-learning in the future of e-learning in Africa. 21st ICDE World Conference. www.tml.hut.fi/Opinnot/T-110.556/2004/Materiaali/brown03.pdf

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Related information



Web Resources





The Main Page on Tech-MODE in SSA is Tech-MODE_in_SSA

For brief information on the country studies see the poster presentation: Tech-MODE Poster

For information on agricultural open educational resources (AOER) see the poster presentation: AOER Poster

For a Synthesis Report on all eight country studies see Tech-MODE Synthesis


For the Country Study on:



Distance Learning for Agricultural Development in Southern Africa
Rainer Zachmann, Mungule Chikoye, Richard Siaciwena, Krishna Alluri
In 2001, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Vancouver, Canada, and the In-Service Training Trust (ISTT), Lusaka, Zambia, initiated a program for agricultural extension workers in Southern (and Eastern) Africa to develop and deliver distance-learning materials. Participants from Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia produced materials, pre-tested them with prospective learners, improved the materials in a workshop in 2002, and implemented pilot programs in their countries in 2003 and 2004.
Paper: http://www.tropentag.de/2005/abstracts/full/284.pdf
Poster: http://www.tropentag.de/2005/abstracts/posters/284.pdf


ICT/ICM Human Resource Capacities in Agricultural Research for Development in Eastern and Central Africa
Rainer Zachmann, Vitalis O. Musewe, Sylvester D. Baguma, Dorothy Mukhebi
Human capacities are lagging behind the quickly evolving information and communication technologies and management (ICT/ICM). Therefore, the Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN), one of the networks of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), commissioned an assessment of ICT/ICM human resource capacities and related training needs in the context of agricultural research for development. The assessment included visits and interviews, questionnaire surveys, and desk studies at national agricultural research systems in the ASARECA subregion. We found a general lack of ICT/ICM policies which has serious consequences, and leads to a wide variety of training needs. Fortunately, most training needs can be satisfied with resources available locally, in-house, in the country, or in the ASARECA subregion.
Paper: http://www.tropentag.de/2005/abstracts/full/276.pdf
Poster: http://www.tropentag.de/2005/abstracts/posters/276.pdf

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