The Power Embedded in Language – reflections by Thobeka and Paida from South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal University

 Shh… Wewe ni katika Tanzania ‘You are in Tanzania’

 Karibu sana ‘You are welcome’ ’TanzaniaHands


English has become the most prominent language that has established root and firmness in many countries. It is has created its own space, taking the position of a language of medium of communication across borders. Without doubt, it has enhanced communication and global understanding among many different people. However, in Tanzania we experienced it differently. The essence of understanding among people is connected by the strongest cable of their own language, Swahili.
According to Masebo & Nyangwine in a book titled Nadharia ya lugha Kiswahili there are two official languages, that is English and Swahili. According to the official national linguistic policy announced in 1984, Swahili is the language of the social and political sphere as well as primary and adult education, whereas English is the language of secondary education, universities, technology, and higher courts. The government announced in 2015 that it would discontinue the use of English as a language of education as part of an overhaul of the Tanzanian schools system.

Language connects people and in Tanzania that is exactly what we experienced. The welcome from people was flattering which made our experience absolutely amazing. Swahili is the source of cohesion and bring a sense of understanding among the people. Those who say know your history as it roadmaps your path to the future refer to common good, which cannot be achieved without common understanding and in the context of Mwanza that is Swahili.

The language is even sensed through the music which brings people together, that sense of love and humanity which is mutual to everybody. The song ‘I love you Tanzania, my country…We welcome you to Tanzania…’ that was sung to us in one of the Primary School we visited was touching. The song communicated a sense of responsibility and nurtures the understanding of value of humanity and dignity of people. But Swahili proved to be the key or a seed to fruit bearing trees that we now enjoy through other people in Tanzania. The fruits we are referring to is the love we received, care, respect and welcome which we are forever grateful as it enhances our own appreciation of other people.

We come from South Africa, the rainbow nation because of the diversity that we have. We have different races, 11 official languages and different tribes. Although we value this cocktail, the differences sometimes create a gap of domination amongst ourselves. Many find it shameful for someone not to know English. But many people are able to communicate in English and bring that understanding among people, locally and globally.

The dominant language of Tanzania was experienced even through art which enhances trust in return minimises crime. The high percentage of homogeneity in Mwanza enhances a sense of helpfulness and respect for one another.

The exciting challenge for us was to communicate with the people in the communities. The domination of Swahili limited our communication. Many people in the community do not understand English. Though we enjoyed this experience because it encouraged us to learn a little bit of Swahili language. The exciting part was that we would burst in laughter when we did not understand and the people would also laugh at us and simply say karibu (welcome).

We are though concerned about the fact that many people do not know English. It concerns us about the interdisciplinary education across borders? Global interconnectedness? International understanding and discussions? English as a global communication language may open doors for people that can communicate using it but what about others? We feel that even the uneducated ones should be equipped with English foundation as to enhance the global engagement and communication.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed every moment of Swahili and every situation of confusion but most importantly is the learning of Swahili.

Asante Sana!

Thobeka and PaidaBy Thobeka and Paida from South Africa, University of KwaZulu Natal.

Misungwi school visit – reported by A-M. Ervelä, S. Laukkanen and P. V. Mbirika

On the third morning of the intensive course, our group visited Misungwi school. That was our very first field visit and we had heard several presentations on the previous days, so we were keen to move from theory to practice.
Misungwi school is an inclusive school. It means that in classrooms there are both pupils with special needs and pupils without special needs. In Misungwi school, pupils with special needs have albinism, are visually impaired or deaf.
According to the law special education should be available to everyone in Tanzania.
Mr Omary S. MKally gave us a warm welcome and a short introduction of assistive technology that is used by the visually impaired pupils. A member of our group, who happens to be blind, had a chance to write a short message in Braille with the Perkins machine. Mr Mkally told us that the machines are from the United States and cost approximately 950 USD each. Mr Mkally has been trained in Boston and is currently the only person in Tanzania who has the knowledge to repair the machines. The assistive technology also includes a photocopying machine and CCTVs. Learning materials can be placed under the camera of a CCTV and an enlarged image of the material is displayed on the monitor.


PICTURE 1. Sanna typing a message with the Perkins machine.


PICTURE 2. The premises included also a computer lap where some of the computers were equipped with screen reader software and other tools.

At the end of our visited we gathered to the main hall for introductions. Noel Joram and Ulla-Maija Koivula gave a short speech about who we are and why we were there. The head of the school gave us more statistics. He told that there are in total 1500 pupils in the school and approximately 200 of them have special needs. Misungwi is one the 52 inclusive schools in Tanzania.

We think one of the challenges at Misungwi is to keep up with the developing technology. The current assistive technology felt a bit old-fashioned but this bases on lack of funding. If the school is not able to keep up with the technology or the knowledge of sign language, the level of special education will deteriorate.


PICTURE 3. We felt it empowering to meet the pupils with their happy faces. As they felt delighted to see us the feeling was mutual. Pupils were eager to pose in the pictures with the visitors.


PICTURE 4. The joyful atmosphere as the pupils were playing with the ball they got as a present from the visitors.

We noticed that the pupils were helping one another and the atmosphere was supportive. At inclusive schools pupils have a better chance to interact and gain self-confidence, in an inclusive group there is more strength because pupils with special needs do not feel ignored but they feel as equally powerful as other pupils.
Text by
Aino-Maria Ervelä, TAMK, Finland
Sanna Laukkanen, UTA, Finland
Philomena Vicent Mbirika, SAUT, Tanzania

Evaluation of the intensive course

The evaluation of the intensive course was collected via an individual feedback form from students and teachers which contained both coded and unstructured questions.

The feedback was very positive! Many described the intensive course being a valuable and memorable experience. Studying in a multicultural group was both rewarding and interesting.

Chart from reaching learning outcomes (by median values from 1 to 5; 1=weak, 5=excellen) was as follows:

Learning outcomes





The overall evaluation of the course was really good as well (means values from the scale from 1 to 5, 1=weak, 5=excellent)

Overall evaluation





Some comments from the open answers about the course:

“Appreciated all, really a good way of having people together to think and make some efforts to solve some problems around their societies and sharing together on what they have been doing. Really good and supportive.” (Tanzanian student)
“Would love to insist that we should keep in touch through social networks and other communication means. Do not break the bond. Karibuni sana!” (Tanzanian student)
“Unique chance and opportunity – all active and motivated” (Finnish student)
“I am certain I will go back to my home country carrying so much knowledge that I can share with other students and teachers. Would never think twice about being part of this course again. That is how strong and deep the impact it has made. Thank you.” (South African student)

The whole evaluation report can be read from this link:


Thank you for all! Especially thanks for the staff of SAUT!



“Are you worried about your alcohol use?” – services for the people with substance abuse in South-Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique

Eveliina Juntunen from the University of Tampere wrote a story about substance abuse by interviewing participants of the intensive course. Here is her story:

Substance abuse, whether it’s about heavy drinking, consuming drugs or other intoxicating products, is a global phenomena. Substance abuse is usual among any socio-economic group, especially in Western countries. Still, I argue that the multidimensional problems caused by alcohol or drug abuse are more complicated within the people who live with low income, unemployment or other social disadvantages. Substance abuse causes economical, social and health problems even before going into consuming levels of dependence of a certain substance.

I see substance abuse firstly as a social phenomena in a society level, and secondly as a disease that the person is suffering. I’m engaged to understand substance abuse as a social problem since the people suffering from such issues should not be blamed or seen as the failed ones. Instead, these problems are also produced by the political decision making, policies and legislation considering substances, functioning of substance abuse services and the attitudes towards people with substance abuse problems. So these issues are also the responsibility of the society and government, not only the people themselves.
I wanted to interview some students and teachers about their knowledge and experiences considering these issues since they are close to my interest in social work and research. I interviewed them with some open questions, so not with any planned questionnaire or strict from (just to mention something about the methods 😉 ).
Mrs. Tanusha and Ms. Thobeka from South-Africa are telling that there are services for the people with substance abuse problems. Ms. Thobeka tells that there are at least rehab centers which can be provided byt the government or NGO’s. The aim of the rehabilitation services in to help the people to get rid of abusing drugs or alcohol and the rehab usually lasts about a month, tells Mrs. Tanusha. She tells that there are also many peer-support groups provided by the NGO’s, such as AA-groups (Alcoholics Anonymous) and TAGA-groups (Teenagers Against Drugs Abuse). These groups usually provide support for the people to share experiences and get support from people who have had such troubles in life. Finally, there are also multiple information sharing campaigns as a preventive work against substance abuse, tells Mrs. Tanusha. She also adds that problems with subtance abuse are quite a big and growing issue in South-Africa.
About the perspective of Mozambique, I interviewed shortly Mr. Marrengula and Mr. Faaizal from our intensive course. Their answers was quite clear and united: there are no official services for people who suffer from substance abuse problems. Some help is provided via mental health hospitals where people can end up due to mental illnesses caused by heavy drug abuse. Also the catholic church provides some services that are of course based on charity work from people to people. Both Mr. Marrengula and Mr. Faaizal told that people who really want to have the services and can afford them somehow travel to South-Africa to get for example rehab or detoxication services. Still, Mr. Marengula adds that substance abuse is not the biggest social problem in Mozambique. That’s why there hasn’t so far been too much attention given to such services.
Finally, I also interviewed the Tanzanian representatives on our intensive course. Ms. Bernadetha and Mr. Majid told me that there are also some services but not too many. They mentioned that there are some rehab centers which can be run by the government or NGO’s. The people get help and medication so that they can get rid of drug abuse, but they also get some psychological help. Ms. Bernadetha also mentions that information about drug and alcohol abuse are mentioned in their studies. Also some preventive campaings are organized to spread information, which is of course a vital part of work against substance abuse problems.
All the informants that I interview told that weed aka marihuana is the most usual drug that people use. In South-Africa there is one very popular but really harmful drug these days, which is called Whoonga. Also in Mozambique there is a special local drug that is common: Toro. In comparison, drugs called crocodile and metamphetamine has been rare but very harmful drugs in Finland lately. This will give us an image that ”doing drugs” or getting deeply dependent on them is a global issue.

Mwanza sunset
A picture of a beautiful sunset taken from a rocky hill in Mwanza. Picture is here to remind that in any very dark and difficult moment some light and hope exists <3

Developments and trends of social work in Finland by A. Metteri and S. Forsman

Anna Metteri and Sinikka Forsman from the University of Tampere gave a presentation of the present trends and developments in the social welfare model and social work in Finland. See the link below:

Developments and trends in social work Finland

Mielenosoittajat marssivat kylttiensä kanssa Helsingin rautatieasemalla perjantaina iltapäivällä.

Picture from the demonstration against the governments’ plan to cut the salaries and benefits to meet the economic sustainability crisis. Picture from Helsingin Sanomat in August 2015.


Studying at higher education level in Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and Finland – students’ stories

Mr. Gil do Adriano is a third year student. He is from Mozambique. Primary school lasts seven years and secondary school five years. After that the students go to university. In Mozambique first lesson in the university starts at 7.30 am and lasts until 12.30 pm. After that they have a lunch and second lesson lasts from 14.00 pm to 17.00 pm. Some who work during the morning start studies later. It is usual that many students work and study. In the university students have more responsibility of their own studies than in elementary and secondary schools where the teacher has the main responsibility. Bachelor’s degree in social work takes three years and master’s degree two years. In Mozambique there are two different kinds of universities. Studies in free universities are free and these universities are run by government. Mr. Gil studies in the Catholic University of Mozambique which is a private university. In private universities buildings are bigger and they have better teaching quality. They also have AC, library, computers and free internet. Studying in Catholic University of Mozambique costs 1660 $ per year. In addition they have to pay for the food, accommodation and transportation. Mr. Gil eats in the campus and he pays for the food in the end of every month. Mr. Gil tells that his parents pay his tuition fees. It is usual to get a loan from the bank if your parents can not afford to pay. Another option is to work at the same time. Some students also work after Bachelor’s degree to collect money for Master’s tuition fees. In Mozambique it is very difficult to get a job after graduation because you should have work experience of five years. That is why it is important to do internships. There are employers who can hire you if you are ready to work for free for couple of months. If you can speak English and use computers it is easier to get a job.
Ms. Philomena Vicent Mbirika studies public relations and marketing in Saint Augustine University of Tanzania. She is from Arusha. Primary school in Tanzania lasts seven years, ordinary school four years and secondary two years. There are no entrance exams to the universities but there is a national exam during your previous studies. There is no specific time for lessons but the first lesson could start at 7.35 am. Ms. Philomena tells that usual day lasts five hours. There are no school uniforms but there is a dress code. Female students are not allowed to wear for example trousers in campus area. Students eat in the cafeterias during their breaks. They pay for the food by themselves. The tuition fee in Saint Augustine University is 630 $. Students do not have to pay for the books because they have a good library. Parents pay the fee and if they cannot afford student can get a loan from the government. The loan covers also accommodation and the bills. From the tuition fee the loan covers about 60-70 %. When you get a job you should pay the loan back to government. Ms. Philomena tells that it is difficult to work at the same time when studying especially in Saint Augustine University because there are no evening lessons. This opportunity you have for example in the University of Dar es Salaam. If you are working it is easier to work during the weekends and employ yourself. Some students also work in NGOs and for the government. Bachelor’s degree in Tanzania takes three years and Master’s two years. It is difficult to get a job after graduation because there are many students graduating. The easiest way is to employ yourself.
Ms. Thobeka Ntini and Ms. Paida Gama study in University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. In South Africa primary school takes eight years and high school five years. Earliest lessons in the university start at 7.45 am and the day ends at 4.45 pm. One lesson takes 45 minutes. Students eat lunch during breaks. Some of the students work part time and it might be a problem because the miss classes because of the work. For example students can work as a leader of a study group. There are hundreds of students in the lectures so in the study groups, with 30-50 students, it is possible to have more interaction. Students do also campaigns for the companies and they could also work for instance as a waiters. Ms. Thobeka mentions that if you work during the nights it might cause too much pressure. It depends of the economic situation of the parents that can they afford to pay tuition fees. The tuition fee in the University of Kwazulu-Natal is 5200$. In addition you have to pay the rent which is 2000$ a year. Bachelor’s degree in social workc lasts three years. Master’s degree takes 1-3 years. After graduation it is hard to get a job. Ms. Thobeka and ms. Paida tells that after the year 2013 the employment situation has been especially difficult. Previously some of the students got a scholarship from the government and government guaranteed the job after graduation if the parents couldn’t pay the tuition fees. Nowadays there are not as many placements as students. Students can get a scholarship either in national level or provincial level. In some universities there are entrance exams but it depends of the number of students applying. The amount of applying students is increasing: in social work there are 17000 applicants and only 200 gets in. Ms. Thobeka works as a mentor in the university and she helps other students with academic and social problems. Ms. Thobeka tells an example about a student who is so hungry that he could not pass the exam.
There are two different kinds of universities in Finland: University emphasizes research and scientific knowledge and University of Applied Sciences emphasizes practical knowledge. There are no private universities in Finland. All universities are free and there are entrance exams to all universities. There are no tuition fees, not even for foreign degree students at the moment. The Bachelors’ degree in University takes three years, Master’s degree two years. If you study in the University of Applied Sciences you study first Bachelor’s degree for three and a half years and if you want to continue to Master’s level, you should work at least three years before you can apply. Studying Master’s degree takes 1.5 years. In both universities there are internships. Students can get a financial allowance from the government but this allowance do not usually cover anything else but the rent. That is why students have to work among the studies, during the evenings, weekends or the holidays if they don’t get financial support from their parents. It is also possible to get a student loan from the bank if you want to focus only on your studies.
After graduation in Social Work it is quite easy to get work at the moment. There are many kind of places where you can work in Social Work or Social Services. If you have done internships it helps you to get job.
Writers: Ms. Tiina Paloniemi is studying 2. year in Bachelor’s Degree of Social Services in the Tampere University of Applies Sciences, Ms. Nelli Niemistö is studying 2. year Master´s Degree of Social Work in University of Tampere and Ms. Piia Seppälä is studying 2. year Master´s Degree of Social Services in University of Applies Sciences.

Paida, Nelli, Thobeka, Tiina, Philomena, Piia and Gil

Paida, Nelli, Thobeka, Tiina, Philomena, Piia and Gil


Students’ associations are active at St. Augustine University in community development activities – presentation by students from SAUT

Presentation from here: Activities of SAUT students’ associations in social development

Student associations are very active in outrearch work with communities at SAUT. Compared to Finnish student associations their profile of somewhat different. Maybe something to think about also in Finland?P1013298 P1013301

International collaboration in Mwanza – presentations by the representative of the city council Mr. Joseph Mlinzi and Mwanza-Tampere Project coordinator Mr. Amin Abdallah

Presentation by the Mwanza City Council about international collaboration and its success factors: North-South-University Corporation-Aug 2015

“Think globally, act glocally”. “Don’t think big, think differently”, said Mr. Mlinzi. P1013704






Presentation about collaboration between Tampere and Mwanza cities: summary of Tampere Project

Mr. Amin Abdallan