DR Ancyfrida Prosper is the Director of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT)- Mwanza Regional Centre, who has been defending her position for about five consecutive years now. During the just- ended International Women Day climax themed ‘Choose to Challenge’, Woman Magazine approached her, seeking to know the secret behind her achievements.
She mentioned creativity and good communication with her superiors and the community she serves in and outside the institution as one of the reasons behind her success.
“Good service provides solutions to all challenges in any organisation. Again, when your fellow employee or client is satisfied with your service, they will credit you, signifying that you deserve to be there. Organising outreach programmes to meet the audience in a bid to increase the Varsity’s clientele is part of my creativity that might be crediting me to continue holding this position,” she said, adding: “Remember, most of the OUT clients/students are servants in both private and public institutions.
Convincing them to join the University needs a smart approach. I manage to convince dignitaries, with huge exposure. Their presence at the University attracts many more to join us because their prominence builds the trust to others that the institution offers what many seek and deserve.”
In an effort to increase clients at her institution, Dr Prosper communicates with relevant authorities, requesting to meet all servants at once, and diplomatically encourage them to join the Regional centre.
It is through such meetings that she motivates her fellow women to up-grade their educational status, one of the approaches that could push them into various high leadership positions.
Commenting on what more should be done to increase the number of women in leadership matters, Dr Prosper says that much effort should be exerted to fight the deep-rooted patriarchy system in society while at the same time promoting education access to female children.
The system and social construction in general, shows that only men are made to undertake big and serious issues, meaning that women are meant for soft tasks. Society therefore should give the chance for a girl child to practice whatever task comes in her way to enable her build confidence, courage and strength.
She says all primary schools should form clubs and allow pupils to meet for socialisation programmes that promote equality between female and male children from the grass-root level.
“We had a club at Butimba Primary School where I schooled. I was selected as one of the peer facilitators and used to visit other school clubs to exchange ideas. It is from there I gained confidence, because I forced myself to stand in front of my school mates and share what I learned from others. This approach works a lot…all schools should have clubs,” insisted Dr Prosper.
In higher learning institutions, she added, Dean of Students (DOS) offices should be empowered financially for regular social orientation and university exposure programmes to all students.
She says most university clients are form six leavers who need more peer-trainings, especially female students, to have self-awareness and esteem, adding that it is because most of the female students, especially those who score division one in form six believe that they already know everything.
“As a result, some take studies for granted and end up underperforming. It is in this way female students lose chances of becoming leaders because underperforming means inability to compete in the employment market that (employability) gives the path to the leadership arena,” she says.
After being empowered, DOS offices will be in a good position to effectively fight sexual corruption that has been reported in various universities, to give female students a chance to stick to their studies and become whatever they wish to be in future, including holding leadership positions.
First President of the Pan-African Parliament, Ms Gertrude Mongella is one of the prominent female figures who impresses Dr Prosper, especially due to her ability to perform international duties while at the same time coming back home to inspire fellow women.
“I learn a lot from this amazing woman and usually try to wear her shoes, because I also nurture female pupils at my former primary school. I visit the school on a regular basis to talk to them through their Language and Vocational Skill club. I always try to shape them to value education, which will enable them become good leaders in future, which in turn will benefit their families, society and the nation at large,” she says.
She says she visited them during the climax of 'International Women Day’ just to tell them how the world values women and to promote selfesteem among them.