Monday, October 23, 2017

Camosun president visits Arusha Technical College in Tanzania

October 4, 2017 by Adam Marsh, student editor

Education is about people, and Camosun College president Sherri Bell says her recent trip to Arusha, Tanzania highlighted that. Bell spent a week at Arusha Technical College (ATC) this past summer; Camosun and ATC are working together in creating and expanding a Pipe Works, Oil and Gas Engineering diploma program.

“Any time I travel anywhere, it’s about people. It’s a small world and the work that we do makes such a difference. And I feel that every day at Camosun,” says Bell. “We make a difference to the community, to the lives of students who go to school here, and to see that somewhere else—it’s pretty emotional.”

Bell says that while students at Camosun typically take their programs with a specific focus in mind, what she found in Tanzania was that the students approached education with more of a selling-point mentality, meaning they wanted to learn how best to market themselves for future jobs.

Camosun president Sherri Bell (centre) with graduates from a propane course at Arusha Technical College (photo courtesy of Sherri Bell).

When Bell asked the Arusha students what their motives for taking pipe trades education were, the answer across the board was to gain skills to be able to be an entrepreneur, says Bell. She admits that she was surprised that this was everybody’s answer, so she asked people to elaborate.

“Their answer was, ‘Because you can’t expect anyone to give you a job.’ Even though it’s a pipe trades, oil and gas program, when you think about it you automatically go to, ‘It’s an oil company that’s going to be creating a pipeline in their country and that’s who would employ them.’ But that’s not how they think. They might just have to figure out with their new skills, what is it that they are going to work on themselves?”

The question of available resources is always front and centre when working off shore. Bell says the technologies available at ATC are not as advanced as the ones available at Camosun, which sometimes poses new challenges.

“When you look at our trades facilities—and I’m not even talking about the new building, just our facilities in general—the equipment we have, it’s much more advanced. One of the things that you do in contracts like this, when you’re working on, in this case, curriculum, you’re also looking for, ‘How can we help with equipment?’”

Camosun donated some equipment to ATC, but ATC Mechanical Engineering assistant lecturer Nicholaus Mhusa says resources are still an issue.

“The number of equipment and tools need to be increased as the number of students increase,” he says. “By the year 2019, we expect to have more than 100 students enrolled in this program.”

Mhusa says it was great to have Bell at the school this summer, and that she affected everyone in a very positive way. He says the new program is great for students there.

“The program is equipped with transferrable skills which make graduates [able] to have a wide range for employment or self-employment in oil and gas industries or other economic sectors like construction, mining, [and] manufacturing,” he says.

Bell says that Camosun is aiming to bring in more international students from places like Tanzania. Camosun is currently in the early planning stages of sending a few students to Arusha, and Bell is hoping that some students from ATC will, in turn, come to Camosun.

“It would be nice to see more students from places in Africa come to Camosun,” says Bell. “We’ve got quite a diverse international population.”

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