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Ethics in Higher Education conference in Tanzania

Students and faculty members from higher education institutions participated in a one day conference organised by the East Africa programme on 10 December 2016 in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. The institutions invited were the Moshi Cooperative University where the conference was held, Mwenge Catholic University, Stephan Moshi University College, Kilimanjaro Medical University College and the College of African Wildlife Management.

In his opening remarks the East Africa Programme Executive Mr Herbert Makinda said, "Ethics is vital because it assists someone to recognise his or her potential. It enables one to make the right moral judgement to choose good and avoid evil". He encouraged all the conference participants to register as participants of and benefit from the magnificent resources in the online digital library with a collection of more than four million documents. He also took the opportunity to advertise the East Africa Regional Ethics Competition 2017 on Ethics in Higher Education and encouraged all to submit items for the competition in which the winners would receive cash rewards.

Mr Makinda also made a presentation on ‘Ethical Issues in Research'. He highlighted the threefold functions of a university: teaching, research and community service. He spoke about the importance of research ethics in providing guidelines for the responsible conduct of scientific research, to ensure a high ethical standard. He stated that a researcher should be familiar with the basic ethical principles and have up-to-date knowledge about policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of research subjects. The ethical concerns highlighted in the presentation included related authorship, plagiarism, peer review, data management, fabrication and falsification, ghost writing and academic writing among others. Mr Makinda concluded by saying that every researcher must at all times be responsible and carry out their work with utmost integrity.

Our author and National Contact in Tanzania, Prof. Aidan Msafiri is also the Climate Change ambassador for Tanzania. He spoke about ‘Ethics in Higher Education: A rethink for a transformative model in Africa'. He addressed the topic with powerful words, "Ethics in higher education serves as both the soul and heart of a true and holistic human transformation and empowerment. Ethics constitutes the fundamental principle of values based inspirational and practical education, which must necessarily be informative, formative and transformative particularly against the present day profit-oriented educational models, trends and brands". He noted that a values-based ethical education model is, undoubtedly, the soul of a holistic transformative and developmental process. He mentioned that, "It is the best cure against Nyerere's key ‘cancers' of development that are ignorance, disease and poverty. In the same line of thought, it is the best cure against Mahatma Gandhi's Seven Blunders Theory: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, business without morality, science without service, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle". He related all of these ideas with the current view in Tanzania that the centrality of ethics in education is constantly re-echoed in President John Magufuli's dictum, "Kutumbua Majipu". Literally this means 'operating on boils', which is to say getting rid of the boils that represent the long term problems that the country has had resulting from systemic corrupt practices in Tanzanian society as a whole.

Five papers were presented during the conference. One was a collaborative paper on the effects of ethics on academic performance in institutions of higher learning presented by Mr Paschal Nade, Dr Machimu Gervas and Ms Sarah Magoti of the Moshi Cooperative University. Two postgraduate students also presented papers on 'Alcohol and alcoholism: cost benefit perspectives in higher learning institutions' and on ‘Ethical behaviour among students in institutions of higher learning'.

The event was hosted by the Dean of Students at the Moshi Cooperative University Dr Machimu who congratulated the East Africa team on organising the event. Presidents of the student governments of the various universities were also present. Speaking on their behalf, their chairman Mr William Mbogo said that the entire student body of the various universities appreciated the event and asked that many more such educative events of the same kind be organised in the future.