calendar November 3, 2010 in Global Vision, SEKOMU

SEKUCo to Graduate First Class

SEKUCo students post at the campus near Lushoto.

Three years ago, 135 students arrived at the still-unfinished campus of Sebastian Kolowa University College (SEKUCo) near Lushoto, Tanzania.  The fledgling university, which initially focused on training badly needed special education teachers, was the dream of the Rev. Dr. Anneth Munga, who knew first hand the need for resources for special needs children.  The dream was realized through partnership with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, special education experts from Pennsylvania, and other Lutheran partners in Europe.

"sekuco10munga"On Dec. 4, that pioneering class will receive Bachelor of Education degrees at a commencement keynoted by Benjamin Mkapa, former president of Tanzania. They will leave a greatly changed and strengthened university, which now has two campuses and enrollment of more than 1,300 in programs that have expanded to include law and eco-tourism.  SEKUCo is a project of our companion synod, the North Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. 

^ Provost Munga in her office.

"Five years ago, we brainstormed about our Synod’s involvement with SEKUCo. At that point it was but a dream," said Susan Pursch, chair of the SEPA-SEKUCo Coordinating Committee which helped birth the new university.

"Today we know that God was truly in the dream. In our wildest dreams we could not have imagined being where we are today."

Individuals and congregations have provided significant resources to start SEKUCo.  Special education experts and educators connected with the Synod, our social ministry organizations, and local universities helped to develop curriculum, and Amanda Grant-Rose spent that first year in residence as our representative and SEKUCo’s director of special education.  In all, individuals and congregations from our Synod have contributed more than $400,000 to SEKUCo, according to Joanne Carlson, assistant to the bishop for global vision and events.

  • You can give SEKUCo a graduation gift.  The university still needs financial assistance to grow and continue its mission by retiring renovation debt, building a second lecture hall and expanding its library, and improving its computer capabilities. Please consider sending a graduation gift. Learn how by downloading the Fall SEKUCo Newsletter.

"sekuco10shehaghilo""Our academic life was filled with precious moments, and wonderful teachers from all over the world
who shared their knowledge. We are now ready to help change Tanzania so that people with disabilities are no longer facing social exclusion, discrimination, segregation, and poverty," said Robert Shehaghilo, a new graduate who has returned to the NED’s Irente Rainbow School as its director.

^ Robert Shehaghilo of the Rainbow School.

"I will always be very thankful for the unique opportunity I had to attend SEKUCo. I would humbly like to use this opportunity to convey my heartfelt thanks to the many people and supporters in the U.S. who made not only SEKUCo a true dream, but also my studies possible," Shehaghilo writes in the Fall issue of SEKUCo’s Newsletter. "It is not an easy task to mention everyone here, but I must thank Bill Nolan and KenCrest of Philadelphia for personally supporting me financially and spiritually. My gratitude, in no small measure, goes to many friends in SEPA and the Philadelphia community for their generosity and support."

In August, Carlson and Bishop Burkat visited SEKUCo and came away inspired by the miracle at Magamba, the small village outside Lushoto where the campus sits on the side of a hill.  "Their work is ministry and mission to, with, and for those with special needs and the Tanzanian society as a whole," Carlson said.

"The 135 new graduates will transform the country, believing in the ability of all children," says Amanda Grant-Rose.

Susan Pursch will be our Synod’s official representative at the commencement, bringing our prayers of support and thanksgiving and a graduation gift from individuals and congregations to help SEKUCo take its next steps.