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“A New University in a New City”

 

Remarks of Hon. Stephen J. Mashishanga (MNEC),

Regional Commissioner of Mawanza

to Friends of St. Augustine University

15th October, 2000

 

We are here tonight to express our thanks to the people at St. Augustine University for locating their excellent school right here in our midst.  Five years ago, there was a question about where to locate the new university.  Perhaps in Moshi, a strongly Catholic community.  Or maybe in Songea, whose Archbishop is chairman of the Education Committee of the Catholic Church in Tanzania.  Or perhaps in Dar es Salaam.  Any one of these would have been a logical choice. 

 

But then they thought, we already have a strong college-level school in Mwanza.  The Nyegezi Social Training Institute (NSTI) had been here since 1960 and had educated over 2,400 graduates, many of them living and working right here in the Mwanza area.  They said:  At Nyegezi we’ve got a solid foundation to build on, a school that is known all over East and Central Africa and has earned the respect of thousands of people who have been associated with it.  And so they decided to start the new university right here in Mwanza.

 

It was a logical choice, and we are the beneficiaries of their decision.  St. Augustine University, as I think you know, is located in Nyegezi 10 km south of Mwanza on two campuses.  There is the original 15-acre site of NSTI and, one kilometer further, the vast area of the former Ministry of Agriculture Training Institute (MATI), which closed in 1997.  St. Augustine will use a large part of this area for farming, for the benefit of its own student body and the benefit of other educational institutions in the vicinity.  Some of the produce will be sold as a source of funding to support the University.  All this will be possible because of the large irrigation system installed in the 1970’s.  It’s being restored and will soon be drawing an abundance of water from Lake Victoria, as it did in the days of MATI. 

 

I think you all know that running a University is an expensive undertaking.  Lecturers’ salaries are high, you’ve got to keep the library stocked with costly books, you must house the students and keep the grounds secure, these days you must have computers and make it possible to use Internet, and you’ve got to have a good staff to run the school and keep up its grounds and buildings.  The annual budget at St. Augustine is 570m/- this year.  That’s for only 320 students.  In a few years, as St. Augustine increases to close to a thousand students, the budget will be five times that high, in the range of 2.5b/-.  Not only running the University, but renovating the buildings and making them useful to lecturers and students is a huge expense.

 

We all understand these costs because we know the cost of providing for our families and running our offices.  Whatever you do these days is expensive; that’s true whether you’re talking about London, England or Mwanza in Tanzania.  St. Augustine University can’t look to the national government, like the University of Dar es Salaam and Sokoine.  It’s on its own.  It can’t look to the Catholic Church.  People who think there are barrels filled with gold bullion somewhere under St. Joseph Cathedral in Dar should ask for a tour of the basement of that church some day.  It’s pretty bare down there.  It’s true, the Church furnishes some of the personnel for St. Augustine--some of its best lecturers and most capable administrators; but money, no.  I assure you tonight, absolutely and unequivocally: St. Augustine depends on its friends.  That’s why we’re here this evening.  I am happy to be speaking for St. Augustine University when I ask for your generous support.

 

I would like to give you ten reasons why we should be generous in supporting St. Augustine this evening.

 

First, the people and institutions of Mwanza are proud to have this fine new University in our midst.  It could have been placed in half a dozen other locations.  The City of Mwanza was chosen.  It is our University and we are immensely proud of it.

 

Second, this is not just any school.  It is a quality University, built on the eight-hundred year tradition of university education in the Catholic Church.  These people know how to run a University.  They proved that at the Nyegezi Social Training Institute, and they are already proving it at St. Augustine.

 

Third, St. Augustine, like its predecessor NSTI, is here to supply Mwanza with a well-educated citizenry.   It’s proving that by the Journalists and Broadcasters it’s turning out, by the Accountants and practitioners of Materials Management, Health Administration, and Book keeping.  It has bachelor’s programmes in Business Administration and Mass Communication.  It’s planning a strong programme in the English language and literature, and one in Information Technology.  Before long, it hopes to offer a first-class certificate course in Secretarial Science, with training in English and Kiswahili and, of course in use of the computer.  Talk about a well-educated population for Tanzania’s Second City.  We’ve got it all!

 

Fourth, the University will attract many new and exciting people to Mwanza:  not only new students and lecturers, but scholars and businessmen and women, political figures and educators, economists and churchmen.  A University is a beehive of activity, and Mwanza will enjoy its “day in the sun” every time St. Augustine hosts a big event.

 

Fifth, new ideas and new technology are always at home in a University culture.  When new ways are devised of preparing a budget, or keeping accounts by computer, or doing public relations, or learning from Internet, or using solar power, a university such as St. Augustine is there to bring these innovations to public attention.  Universities are always instruments of change and development in their community.

 

Sixth, the lecturers of St. Augustine are a ready pool of skilled technicians for consultation and consultancies, for financial reports, for planning and innovation, for training in basic skills and in exciting new developments.  When there is talk of entrepreneurs or business ethics, strategic planning or productivity assessment, help is near at hand.  Just pick up the phone and dial St. Augustine University.

 

Seventh, the University radio station, Radio SAUT (FM 96.1) is Mwanza’s own voice into our entire region and beyond, into every town and village in a radius of 130 km—for news and education, for advertising and commentary.  The University will be using Radio SAUT in Kisukuma and Kiswahili to extend its educational function to reach hundreds of thousands of people who are out of the mainstream of educational opportunities.  It could be the same for the school’s English newspaper if the University chooses to make that into a publication for the whole region. 

 

Eighth, St. Augustine University will help Mwanza develop into a centre for scholarship and research.  The library, with its ample book collection and Internet capability will attract scholars to carry out research in congenial surroundings, in company with a growing number of active researchers at work on various projects.  The University is planning an international scholarly journal and will make other scholarly projects available on Internet for worldwide distribution.  It has recently entered into a network of seven East African universities connected with sister universities in Europe for the transmission of scholarly articles by Internet.  The University will soon become the home of the Tanzania Pastoral Research Institute (TAPRI) which is being moved here from Kipalapala in Tabora.  The wonders of computing will give Mwanza a brilliant new potential as a research centre.

 

Ninth, through its understanding of Information Technology and business, St. Augustine can make it possible for Mwanza to become an East African  center for e-commerce and e-business.  As Tanzania becomes part of a global economy, it is critical to realize that geography makes little difference in the development of new commercial centers.  The challenge is for business to think creatively, to plan boldly, and to act energetically to capture its share of the market.  By the time business is ready to take this kind of initiative in Mwanza, Information Technology at St. Augustine will be there to make it possible.

 

Tenth, in God’s providence, St. Augustine University of Tanzania is a valuable resource located close to home for the education of your son or daughter, for your wife or sister, for your manager or executive assistant.  When you have an intelligent and energetic young person that you want to be successful in making the challenging transition from Form VI to university, you should think instinctively of St. Augustine University.  Here, right at your doorstep, is a major educational institution, with strong values and a superb tradition. Mwanza is indeed fortunate to have this University to educate our people.  Let us make good use of it by enrolling our sons and daughters there and encouraging our friends to do the same.

 

Yes, my friends, we have a strong University right in our back yard, and we are here tonight to make it stronger.  As I said above, this University depends heavily on its friends.  You can help it achieve all those ten values I indicated above.  You will want to visit St. Augustine sometime soon to see for yourself what they’re doing, but tonight, as we’re here together, make a memorable pledge of your confidence in the work of this University.  Be as generous as you can and build on this gift by regular donations in the months and years to come.  Thank you.

 

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