Faculty of Education partners with African university to strengthen ties to the community

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education is partnering with Tanzania’s Mzumbe University to help the African institution in the development of its strategic plans and how to strengthen is relationship with the community, the private and public sectors. This partnership is the result of a collaborative engagement between the African Union of Universities and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Faustin Kamuzora and Magishi Mgasa, two of Mzumbe University’s senior administrators, are spending two weeks at the U of A to learn about the U of A’s strategic planning methods and how the university translates research innovation to private enterprise through TEC Edmonton.

“TEC Edmonton has quite a good program of commercialization and incubation,” said George Richardson, assistant dean in the faculty’s Office of International Initiatives. “We’ve got Faustin and Magishi spending a day-and-a-half with TEC Edmonton, looking at the projects they’re working on and the strategies for engaging the private sectors.”

Aside from meetings with TEC Edmonton, the visitors to the U of A will meet with senior university administrators to gather information on the university’s strategic planning process and discuss how to use the information to develop a plan that fits the Tanzanian context. Richardson says that some of the same policies and practices for developing and working with external stakeholders will be helpful to them in achieving their goals.

Mgasa says they are hoping to broaden their relationships with Tanzanian industry as a means to help graduates seeking employment, but also for research and funding. He notes that student involvement in these relationships will be beneficial to their employment opportunities and their civic engagement.

“By developing a strong link with our stakeholders, the students will have a better understanding of situation of the country,” said Mgasa, “and when they go to work, they’ll already have the exposure of working together with the different stakeholders.”

Kamuzora noted that what they take back from the U of A will help them to develop strategies to strengthen their relationships with their partners and stakeholders, including the government. Mzumbe’s mission includes strengthening its service to the community, and delivering on that objective, says Kumuzora, means the university’s partners are “well served.”

The faculty’s relationship with Mzumbe is not new, says Richardson. Two faculty members had worked at Mzumbe previously on math and science education projects. The U of A, and the faculty in particular, was Mzumbe’s choice “because they knew us,” he said. As a followup to this visit, the faculty will send one member to Tanzania for two weeks to work with the university’s administrators in furthering the development of their strategic plans. This type of partnership is somewhat different from the type of work that Richardson’s office does, but he notes that faculties across campus find themselves “engaged in different areas,” especially in the context of global education and engagement.

“The university has an increasing presence in east Africa,” said Richardson. “We’re quite delighted to be part of this project.”