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By Lusekelo E. Mwakalindile for APD, September 1, 2013
 
The government of Tanzania has granted a charter to the University of Arusha, giving the highest academic accreditation to the institution operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ceremony took place at the State House in Dar es Salaam on August 20. President Jakaya Kikwete handed the certificate to university chancellor Godwin Lekundayo, who also serves as president of the denomination in the east African nation.
 
“We thank God for this development and pray that the university will continue to uplift the name of God and the Adventist Church,” said Andrew Mutero, education director for the denomination’s East-Central Africa Division, based in Nairobi, Kenya.
 
Representatives from a total of eight universities participated in the ceremony and received a charter. Twenty of the country’s 50 universities are now formally licensed by the national government. President Kikwete challenged the representatives of the institutions to increase the number of students who graduate with advanced degrees and grow the number of students who might later return as university faculty.
 
President Kikwete urged the universities to also consider recruiting international teaching staff as a temporary strategy. He said this would reduce the number of professors teaching in more than one university at the same time. "University professors should have permanent areas so that they can concentrate and produce quality professionals who will compete in the global market," he said.
 
The University of Arusha began in 1974 as Arusha Adventist Seminary, which offered ministerial courses and health courses. In 2003, then known as Tanzania Adventist College, the school was permitted to become the University of Arusha and start the process of full accreditation. In 2007 it was given provisional status by the Tanzania Commission for Universities.
 
Today the university serves more than 2,700 students and offers both undergraduate and master’s degrees. Besides its main campus at Usa River, it operates the Arusha Extension Centre in Arusha City and Buhare Extension Centre in Musoma, in the northern part of the country. It is also accredited by the Adventist Accreditation Association.
 
Tanzania has a population of 46 million with a very high percentage of poverty, low levels of education and a significant incidence of HIV-AIDS. The Adventist Develop and Relief Agency (ADRA) has a number of projects in Tanzania. There are more than 2,000 Adventist congregations in the country and more than 450,000 church members, although outside sources indicate that about one million people can be considered Adventist adherents. The Adventist Church operates 11 secondary schools and 18 community clinics in Tanzania.
 
Arusha is a metropolitan area of 1.3 million and the location of the denomination's national office. For years the government has encouraged the denomination to expand the clinic it operates in Mwanza, the country's second-largest city to help meet the need for quality medical care in a metropolitan area with 2.8 million people. The church has taken up the challenge to build a hospital on land adjacent to the medical clinic, and funds an offering taken in congregations around the world on the last Sabbath in June, 2013, will help finish this hospital.