University Mtaani (University in the slum) is an outreach programme of Tangaza University College that offers a Diploma in Civic and Development Education (DCDE) to the Huruma community, Nairobi. The programme was launched on 19th August 2012 in collaboration with the Holy Trinity Kariobangi North Parish with the aim of providing skills and knowledge to the slum dwellers to address the many challenges they face and be protagonists of their own development. The idea of University Mtaani is based on the following fundamental principles:
Bring university education closer to people and provide education to those who have been neglected by universities.
Use a multidimensional educational approach, blending learning in the classroom and community dialogues.
Get students involved in the generation of knowledge through their community engagement.
University Mtaani uses a methodology called circle of praxis to address the challenges of the communities. The four components are insertion, social and cultural analysis, theological reflection and action. The teaching approach used is the problem-solving method. What students learn in class, they apply it to solve their communities’ problems through various community dialogues. Through this engagement with their communities, students are able to help them find solutions to their problems (health, security, garbage, water, etc.) and in doing so, students generate knowledge that inform classroom learning.
The program aims to empower community educators to help the community reach its full potential. Most of the students come from poor or marginal neighborhoods, they are adult men and women who finished secondary school many years ago and could not go to university.
The program has had a great impact on both students and the community. Most of the students are now employed or have improved their business, while others are doing voluntary work with the community or organizations for local development. Most of the community workshops conducted by University Mtaani students have had a great impact on the community. A good example of this is the 2015-2017 DCDE Dandora group community workshop on sanitation and hygiene that led to the construction of toilets in neighborhoods that had only two public toilets without any maintenance built on the Ruai sewer line.
During the workshops, students raise awareness among communities of improvement and prevention strategies, share civic education materials, and do research on the communities´ view about how they would like their neighborhood improvements to be done. As a result, students acquire skills to advocate for their rights and formulate public policies.
Education is a powerful tool for social transformation. While encouraging citizen mobilization and dialogues aimed at addressing their specific problems, we believe that the Mtaani Program offers students a unique opportunity for personal and social development.
THE PROJECT IN NUMBERS
UNISERVITATE is a global and networked programme that is established through a process of permanent development and the integration of new actors and institutions from a series of regional hubs strategically distributed around the world.