Women in ODL Building Community Based “Women Friendly Education Support Service Circles” to Efffectively Combat Women Gap in Higher Education: The Case of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT)

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF3 // This paper discusses a vision and mission of the OUT female students (who were involved in the Women Focus Group of my Ph.D. study) in establishing “Women Friendly Education Support Service Circles” in the communities they live. The paper also describes the pilot study of the vision/mission conducted in Dar-Es-Salaam to establish possible challenges that might interfere with the mission implementation. // The 28 OUT female students, participants as Women Focus Group (WFG) founded an NGO – the “Open University of Tanzania Women Students Organization” (OUTWSO) on July 11, 1999. The aim for forming the organization is to enable all other OUT female students in the country participate in the WFG vision/mission, so that together they may participate in building the “Women Friendly education Support Service Circles” to help OUT sensitize and empower more women to enroll and participate more effectively with studies at the OUT. // The main objective of OUTWSO is to assist OUT find ways to help more Tanzanian women to qualify and be willing to enroll studies with the OUT, empower them to cope better with studies, while they continue with their family and nation building roles. OUTWSO’s vision is building “Women Friendly Education Support Service Circles” through “women-helping other-women” (KULEANA process) on face-to-face basis and/or through the help of ICTs. “KULEANA” is Kiswahili word simply meaning “taking care of each other.” Through KULEANA a woman would volunteer (where possible) to help mitigate another woman’s need, barrier, or problem that is educationally, socially, or economically limiting. Through KULEANA supported by use of ICTs OUTWSO will be able to link together all Tanzanian women who are educationally, socially, or economically successful, and together they will work to help mitigate the unfavorable social-economic learning and study conditions most women experience in their families, communities, educational institutions, work places, and society at large.