Msuya, Jangawe and Farijala Maro. “The Provision of Library and Information Services to Distance Learners: The Open University of Tanzania (OUT).” Libri 52, no. 3 (September 2002): 183-191.
The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) enrolled more than 4400 students as distance learners in 1998. A study was conducted concerning library services at the main library and support offered at the regional centers. Questionnaires, interviews, and other means were used to contact students. The study determined that while the structure is in place to provide materials, there was an insufficient amount of material in the main and regional library collections. Also, the collections failed to focus on the current curriculum. Much of the material is out-of-date. In addition, with only two professionals, staffing at the main library is inadequate. Information literacy is not incorporated into the students’ programs. While some students are able access local libraries, some libraries charge fees providing another barrier to accessing information. Indeed 33 out of 36 students who withdrew cited their inability to access adequate information sources as one reason for withdrawing from the program. Students in rural areas are particularly disadvantaged. The study concludes with specific recommendations for improving library support. Suggestions range from diversifying funding sources to stocking textbooks prior to the beginning of a semester so that students can purchase them in a timely manner. I. Frank.


Mcharazo, Alli A.S. and Anthony Olden. “Fulfilling the Learning Resource Requirements of Students at the Open University of Tanzania.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 32, no. 4 (December 2000): 204-214.
54 students at the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) were interviewed during 1994-1997 to determine their needs as distance learners. Students must rely heavily on the study materials provided by the OUT since public libraries and even some academic libraries do not have the resources to support their coursework. Students near regional centers set up by the OUT fare somewhat better, but all students would benefit by access to additional information resources. Since Internet access is poor and few students have access to personal computers, recommendations include setting up an OUT radio station so that students could listen to modules of study. The University could also improve access to IT facilities. Additionally, the Open University of Tanzania Library could become a library of referral for distance learners. Even with its limited stock of materials, librarians might do more in way of providing students with acquisitions lists and perhaps indexing for articles in its collection. Students could order material from the Library. More staff is needed for this to be successful, Partnerships should be developing with the Tanzania Library Service (the public libraries) to provide some materials and study space for OUT students. Other academic and special libraries should be approached as well. All students would benefit by more open access to Tanzania’s library collections. I. Frank.


Mcharazo, Alli A.S. and Anthony Olden. “Investigating the Learning Resource Requirements of Students at the Open University of Tanzania: Research Methods.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 31, no. 2 (June 1999): 101-109.
The Open University of Tanzania admitted its first 766 students in 1994. By 1998, the number of students had grown to 4,809. Regional centers were set up to provide counseling, tutoring and group discussion. With university administrators’ permission, trained local research assistants interviewed 54 students to determine their needs as distance learners. Names and addresses of the students were supplied by the regional centers. In other countries, this user study might be done by a mailed questionnaire. However, this was not a good option in a developing country with uneven postal service and few home telephones. Questionnaires were delivered by hand. Researchers recorded the answers. Sessions lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Most students interviewed were in the 30’s and 40’s. While students had access to transistor radios, few had access to televisions and video recorders. None had access to a personal computer. Few women were enrolled as husbands are usually given the opportunity to study rather than wives. The students noted that the Tanzania Library Service had begun charging 3000 Tanzanian shillings a year (around three pounds sterling). Students found it difficult to afford this service “making the reading rooms quieter.” Additional findings from this study will be reported in subsequent publications. I. Frank.

Mcharazo, Alli Abushiri Shomari. Distance Learning in the African Context: The Learning Resource Requirements of Students at the Open University of Tanzania, and the Extent to Which They Are Met. Ph.D. diss., Thames Valley University, 1999. 320 pp.
The author’s project explored the information needs of distance students enrolled in the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) which was established in 1993. OUT uses face-to-face contact, the postal system, telephone, radio, CD-ROMs, and other formats for delivering course content. However, access to technology of all sorts is uneven. Students face financial hardship when purchasing books or paying the fees charged by public libraries. A history of the OUT and distance learning in Tanzania places these concerns in context. A case study method was used for the project and included administrators, faculty, lecturers, librarians, and staff. A questionnaire was developed and administered in a 45-60 minute interview to 54 students in three degree programs. This was not a strictly scientific random sample since geography, transportation, and an uneven postal service limited access to the students. In terms of information needs, study modules provided by the OUT were seen as the most useful. However, study materials did not always reach students in a timely fashion. The University’s regional centers and public libraries do not provide enough supplementary materials due to inadequate funding. In some cases, the material needs to be produced and publishers may provide some of the solution. Students were not always aware of other libraries that might be available. In spite of these difficulties distance learning holds promise for providing increased educational opportunities. I. Frank.