United Methodist University of Mozambique, which opened in 2017, can expect to see significant growth, according to the new vice chancellor.
“It will grow because it is located in an educational center where several schools are within the same campus,” the Rev. Julio Andre Vilanculos said. He was referring to the primary, elementary, middle, vocational and high schools that share a campus with the university at Cambine Educational Center in Morrumbene, about 400 miles northeast of Maputo.
“Thousands of students of different ages flock to one same campus, and that has a chain value for (the university’s) growth because a good number of its student body will come from those schools,” Vilanculos added.
Today, there are 116 students enrolled, nearly one-third of whom are women. The school has four faculties —theology; computer engineering; management and administration; and education.
University leaders plan to build eight additional classrooms, a computer lab and a central library over the next two years.
Vilanculos said the institution benefits many people in this area, where schools of higher learning are scarce. He said the university, as a religious institution, offers a “double blessing of academic and spiritual growth” in one place.
During Vilanculos’ induction ceremony on Sept. 20, Cambine community leader Edmundo Benedito Mauricio thanked The United Methodist Church for its “exemplary achievement” of providing an institution of higher learning in Mozambique.
“Our children will travel no more long distances to find a university. They will study and grow here under our guidance,” he said.
“The birth of this university comes to reduce and alleviate the cost of studying in our families. We’ll worry no more about paying large sums of monies just for them to find a place to sleep or on transportation to and from big cities. God responded to our prayers.”
Vilanculos said he has been encouraged by Mozambique Episcopal Area Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala, who appointed him to the post.
Before studying theology at Africa University, Vilanculos served as pastor to several United Methodist congregations in the Mozambique North and South annual conferences. After graduation, he became a lecturer at Cambine Theological Seminary and then director of the seminary in 2010. He has served in different capacities at Cambine Educational Center for the past eight years.
Vilanculos had expressed some concern about lacking the necessary experience to lead an institution of higher learning, but Nhanala disagreed.
“You will learn leading by leading. I’ll be praying for you and the entire church will also be praying for you,” the bishop said.
Looking to the future, Vilanculos said he hopes that the church will “continue supporting the baby university to grow in its infrastructures, faculty members and provide quality education that will meet students’ expectations and society needs.”
He added, “It is important that we start well in these first years of our existence, because those whom we serve will market our university.”
Filipe Hoguane, a faculty member who teaches Introduction to Old and New Testaments and English as a second language, said the university is affordable and convenient and will help young people realize their dreams.
“With this university, I envision many young boys and girls, who had difficulties in accessing college education, can materialize their dreams. The school fees, tuitions, books and dormitories, which were a stumbling block for them in distant universities, will no longer be a hindrance,” he said.
Hoguane said that the church has brought the university close to rural communities, and he hopes that can end the mindset that universities are only for urban people.
“It is indeed a true place where the blending of nature and education is attainable, and a place of hope and social transformation for the present and future generations.”
The primary funding for this university comes from student enrollment. However, local churches in the Mozambique South Conference also collect funds that are channeled through the conference’s Board of Education in support of scholarships.
An Advance through the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries also has been established for endowed scholarships and to help pay administrative costs.
Emilia Rosa F. Cobane Sumbane, a second-year student in the faculty of theology, said the university closes a huge gap by offering an academic institution of this nature in the Morrumbene District.
“I graduated from high school eight years ago, but I was unable to go to college for a couple of reasons: funding, distances, lack of a religious institution with Wesleyan Tradition,” she said.
Cobane is a district superintendent who oversees four districts within the Morrumbene area.
“I see myself pioneering many generations yet to come, including my two little daughters. (United Methodist University of Mozambique) will continue to grow to a stage in which it will become the backbone of academic learning and excellence in the whole of Inhambane Province,” she said.
Sambo is the Africa Lusophone correspondent for United Methodist News Service.