S.C. State officials leave today to take textbooks to Zanzibar

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

South Carolina State University soon will have an impact on the education of an entire nation.

On Jan. 7, SCSU officials will hand over science textbooks they have developed for his country to Zanzibar President Amani Karume.

"This is the first time the country will be able to give out textbooks," SCSU Interim President Dr. Leonard McIntyre said.

At the project's conclusion, SCSU will be responsible for producing more than a million textbooks for the students of Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. The funding for the project came from President George W. Bush's African Education Initiative that aims to expand the academic opportunities of African students. In all, SCSU has received $5 million from the project to write the textbooks and produce other learning materials.

McIntyre said it was a great opportunity to expand the university's reach and exposure on an international scale. He says the university's involvement with the project benefits it financially as well as giving students the chance to participate in writing the textbooks.

McIntyre, along with SCSU Director of Public Relations and Marketing Erica Prioleau, Program Director Lamin Drammeh, lead writer for the biology textbooks Dr. Albert Heyward and Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Antonio Boyle, will be flying to Zanzibar Jan. 2 and returning home on Jan. 12.

SCSU officials will present biology textbooks to Karume during a ceremony that is expected to be covered by CNN and the BBC.

The group has also been invited to a bricklaying ceremony at a local school as well as a dinner with Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

McIntyre said the group will explore the possibility of helping out in devastated regions of Tanzania during the trip, and they will have a meeting to work on finishing up the physics and chemistry textbooks. He said the school is also working on gaining publishing rights for math textbooks to give Zanzibar students.

The island nation of Zanzibar is united with mainland Tanzania but is largely autonomous. Both have a president, but Kikwete serves the dual role of president and commander in chief. McIntyre said the nation is composed of three ethnic groups including Indian, Arab and African. These cultures are intertwined with each other and live together in harmony, he said.

"There's no crime to speak of," he said.

McIntyre called Zanzibar one of the most bea.jpgul places in the world, noting it is a popular tourist destination for Europeans.

Constructing the textbooks was a collaborative effort between the administration, faculty, staff and students and was no easy feat, he said. According to McIntyre, the real challenge was aligning textbooks to the Zanzibar curriculum while maintaining rigor. He said the textbooks had to be culturally relevant and appropriate to grade levels.

In Zanzibar, students are taught in Swahili in elementary grades and then taught in English during their high school years. That presented the challenge of writing the textbooks at a level of English that was comprehendible to Zanzibar students, McIntyre said.

In addition to the main textbook, SCSU officials made posters and lab manuals to supplement learning. McIntyre said the university made posters like a portrait of the respiratory system to help students better understanding their classroom experience.

Also involved in the project are Alabama A&M, Chicago State, Elizabeth City State, the Mississippi Consortium for International Development and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Those schools will help provide the African nations of Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal, South African and Zambia with textbooks.

McIntyre said the project has given the world a window into the research and service abilities of SCSU. That exposure first started when he traveled to Ghana with First Lady Laura Bush as part of the launch of the project in 2005, McIntyre said.

He said a friend from China e-mailed him after watching coverage of that trip on CNN.

"South Carolina State, that's the school you work at?" the friend asked him. McIntyre said he proudly responded in the affirmative.

He expects the exposure to continue when Tanzania's Minister of Education Margareth Simwanza Sitta meets with his counterparts from eight other African nations during his trip.

"They probably will be knocking on our door," McIntyre said.

T&D Staff Writer Lee Tant can be reached by e-mail at ltant@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-534-1060. Discuss this and other stories online at TheTandD.com.