|Board examines need for global education resources|
Oct. 26, 2006
By Vicki Brown*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) —
Both the need for global educational resources and projects under way to
support development of global theological education were highlighted in two
sessions at the fall board meeting of the United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry.
A global conference call
and online dialogue allowed members of the board's Division of Higher
Education to talk with educators from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Brazil about
sharing resources between Latin America and Africa. And a meeting of the
Global Theological Education Committee included a report on the need for far
more training for pastors in Africa and the joint work being done by the
Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Board of Global Ministries to
Eduardo Namburete, a United
Methodist and lecturer at the School of Communication and the Arts at
Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, spoke to the group from
Geneva, Switzerland. Paulo Bessa, a professor and assistant for external
projects and community issues at Methodist University in São Paulo, Brazil,
and Andra Stevens, director of communications at Africa University in Mutare,
Zimbabwe, also took part.
Namburete said many people
in Mozambique wanted to attend college, but only a few places are available.
"In Mozambique we have been
struggling for four or five years, with no tangible results," Namburete
said. So educators in Mozambique are excited about a proposed partnership
with the Methodist University in São Paulo, he said.
Bessa said the university
has been working on online distance learning for some time, initially with
its regular students.
"This semester we started a
program of distance learning in which we have 600 students enrolled in
different parts of the state," Bessa said. At five different centers at
Methodist schools, the students can see the professor on a screen, type in
questions and have the professor provide answers in real time, he said.
Kim Cape, superintendent of
the McAllen District in the Southwest Texas Annual (regional) Conference,
asked if Mozambique has sufficient electricity and infrastructure to support
online learning. She said she was in the country after Sept. 11, 2001, and
it was three days before anyone knew about the attacks on the World Trade
Namburete said some of
those problems have been overcome, especially regarding telephones and
Stevens said that was true
of Africa University, too, where big improvements have been made in
technology in the past three months. Africa University views distance
education as "really helping realize the goal of being a pan-African
university," she said.
A project to help deliver
agricultural training at Angola University is a step in that direction, and
discussion is under way about work in Rwanda, she said.
"We don't see ourselves
being effective in Africa until we can deliver education where students are,
and distance education technology is a critical piece of that," she said.
Bishop J. Lawrence
McCleskey, president of the Division of Higher Education, said the
opportunity to be engaged in conversation with people from around the globe
"It was another effort
among many to understand what it means to be a global church and to make the
most of our educational resources globally. We're facilitating the
conversation, but all the people in the conversation are sharing resources
that are not in the United States," he said.
Stephanie Deckerd, the
board's newest and youngest member, agreed.
"I thought that was
amazing. I think it will help the world if you can converse and not stay
isolated. Such conversations will lead us forward in the right direction,"
the 16-year-old said.
Board member Carolyn
Briscoe added that the work being done shows that United Methodists in the
United States have much to learn from those in Africa and Latin America.
Global education fund
At a meeting of the Global
Theological Education Committee, Ken Yamada, special
assistant to the general secretary for Global Education and New Initiatives,
reported on initial steps that were taken at
meetings in Panama, Korea, and Japan toward making the Methodist Global
Education Fund for Leadership Development a reality. The 2007 budget
approved by the board's directors includes $300,000 in seed money for the
At the same meeting, consultant Ellis Larsen said a great need exists
for training pastors all over Africa. He noted that it had been many years
since Angola had a functional seminary because of military conflict there.
Many other countries lack adequate training facilities as well, Larsen said.
However, he said, pastors
who had attended the course of study school at Kafakumba in Zambia were
"We need more schools like
the one in Kafakumba, and we need more resources, especially in French," he
said. Pastors study eight weeks a year for eight years at that school,
started by John Enright, a United Methodist who grew up in a missionary
family in Congo. He bought an abandoned factory lot and began planting
banana trees. The sale of the bananas pays for the food, housing and
education of some 60 local pastors per class who come to the school each
year from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo and Senegal.
Larsen, who reported on the
need in the areas of Africa where English, French, and Portuguese are
spoken, said there are probably not more than a dozen schools for pastors in
all of Africa. Robert Kohler, assistant general secretary in the board's
Division of Ordained Ministry, said that compares to 13 United Methodist
seminaries and 15 pastors' schools in the United States.
representatives from the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the
churchwide Board of Discipleship and the West African nation of Côte
d'Ivoire served as a board of ordained ministry to examine graduates of the
school at Kafakumba and found them well-prepared, Larsen said.
*Brown is an associate
editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation at the United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry.
News media contact: Linda
Green or Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
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