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The improvement of teaching and diagnostics of parasitic diseases in LITAs’ schools as a component of enhancing the standards of education of breeding livestock in Tanzania – continuation

Most of the inhabitants of Tanzania derive their income from agriculture, in particular from raising cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and poultry. The climate, terrain, low levels of knowledge about pathogenesis, and insufficient provision of animal health prevention measures jointly result in the spread of parasitic and infectious diseases among livestock, resulting in significant losses for the local population.

The idea of a joint Polish-Tanzanian effort aimed at improving the quality of mid-level vocational training in animal husbandry in Tanzania was initiated in 2009 through the implementation of projects for the Livestock Training Agency (LITA) within the framework of the Polish Development Cooperation Programme of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. LITA is a network of eight state-run secondary schools under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Republic of Tanzania. The respective LITA schools provide educational qualifications for between several dozen and several hundred students each. It is worth highlighting that all those interested in this field can study there regardless of gender (women make up nearly half of the student body) or religion. The students are provided with government grants for food and accommodation. The students also include people actively engaged in agricultural business activities, who are upgrading their professional qualifications in order to increase the effectiveness of production on their farms.

Studies take the form of a two-year diploma or certificate course (based on a unified curriculum for all the schools), in the course of which students acquire knowledge of the fundamentals of agriculture and plant cultivation and issues of environmental protection and sustainable farming. An extremely important part of the LITA curriculum are subjects aimed at mastering basic knowledge of animal healthcare and the basics of veterinary public health. This is because the graduates of these schools subsequently operate in the capacity of agricultural extension workers, and because of the size of the country (Tanzania is three times the size of Poland) and limited access to veterinary services, they often provide first aid in diagnosing animal diseases. They are also involved in examining meat obtained from slaughtered livestock and determining its suitability for human consumption.

As a result of Polish-Tanzanian co-operation, the LITA school located in Tengeru obtained full accreditation in 2011 in an accreditation evaluation process conducted by the Tanzanian National Council for Technical Education, which demonstrates the high degree of the effectiveness of its activities. The Polish projects for the benefit of the Tanzanian LITA schools have also been recognised by Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizenego Pinda, who visited the Tengeru campus personally.

The improvement of teaching and diagnostics of parasitic diseases in LITAs’ schools as a component of enhancing the standards of education of breeding livestock in Tanzania – continuation

In consultation with the LITA Board in Dar es Salaam and based on interviews with the principals of the respective schools, three LITA schools were selected for further actions within the framework of Polish Development Cooperation: in Madaba (in the southern region of Sangea, located furthest from the country’s centre), in Morogoro (located centrally, adjacent to the Sokoine University, the sole agricultural college in Tanzania), and in Mpwapwa (in the Dodoma region). Prior to implementing the project, these schools did not offer complete practical training courses due to a lack of technical equipment, which significantly detracted from the development of the students and, what is more, prevented them from acquiring relevant practical skills in the diagnosis of parasitic invasions. Each of these places struggled with serious negligence problems in their infrastructure (a lack of appropriate premises or premises in poor technical condition, and a lack of laboratory equipment), course organisation (e.g. insufficient practical training) and qualifications (e.g. gaps in qualifications on the part of teaching staff).

The immediate goal of the project run by Fundacja Nauka dla Rozwoju (the Science for Development Foundation) was to establish proper housing and technical conditions for the teaching of foundational parasitology and diagnostics of parasitic diseases in livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry) and pets (dogs and cats). This goal was achieved through identification and refurbishment of appropriate premises on the respective LITA school campuses. Subsequent collaboration with project beneficiaries in the course of visits to these locations yielded detailed plans and scopes of works to be executed by campus administrators. The planned renovation and construction works consisted primarily in repairing wall and floor structures and installing glazed windows (one of the locations had only metal screen-covered windows). In turn, the electrical wiring installations in all the buildings were replaced. Similarly, new water and plumbing systems were installed in the laboratory rooms in order to ensure the supply of running water and the discharge of waste water from the laboratory to an environmentally safe sewerage system. The didactic and diagnostic laboratories were furnished in this way at all three LITA campuses.

In order to ensure adequate teaching standards, all three laboratories were equipped with appropriate laboratory equipment: diagnostic and teaching microscope sets and stereoscopes (one set for each course instructor) and biological microscopes for students, to be used for direct testing of samples during laboratory exercises (eight units for each of the three laboratories). The teachers’ microscopes were additionally equipped with devices for sample processing and projection onto a screen, so as to enable students to analyse samples together with their tutors.

Each of the schools involved in the project was provided with teacher training, which related to the organisation of animal parasitology classes. The training focused on an introduction to the principles of safe collection of biological material from different species of livestock for testing (including the rules of bioassay). Subsequent training dealt with the proper handling and efficient use of the laboratory equipment provided for instruction and parasitological diagnostic testing in the laboratory.

The improvement of teaching and diagnostics of parasitic diseases in LITAs’ schools as a component of enhancing the standards of education of breeding livestock in Tanzania – continuation

Significant improvements in the quality of education constitute the project’s key achievement. Practical training (in the laboratory) was provided to a total of 33 instructors and 422 students, and 230 people participated in the introduction to parasitology and parasitological diagnosis lectures.

At present, the laboratories are suitable for conducting theoretical and practical classes for students in basic coproscopic diagnostics of parasitic invasions of livestock and pets, which are fundamental to teaching about veterinary public health. Diagnostic tests of invasive gastrointestinal and pulmonary parasites in bovines, equidae, pigs, poultry, rabbits, etc. may also be performed. Similarly, it is possible to examine dogs and cats, which, in close contact with humans, may be a source of parasitic infestation.

The LITA school campuses provide ongoing monitoring of parasitic invasions in the animals raised there. The LITA parasitism labs may also provide third-party services, performing parasitic invasion examinations for livestock breeders in the vicinity of the respective LITA campuses.