OF recent times, Form IV leavers, with passes in Mathematics and Science, have an additional line of professionalism they can pursue, at higher levels. That is “Multimedia and Film Technology”.
It is in recognition of this reality that the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), now provides such school levers with a variety of courses, in this area of expertise. “This new media technology involves the manipulation of media elements such as pictures, videos and sound in relation to their composition parts, which may be a game, film, documentary or just illustration,” the Institute’s Assistant Lecturer in the Computer Department, Stanley Mwalembe, told the ‘Daily News’ when on a visit there last Thursday.
“In fact, anything to do with the involvement of videos, pictures and sound, in relation to the computer-related manipulation. So, it can be a game. A computer game is a typical multimedia system. Our students also learn how to maintain and repair multimedia equipment and certain aspects of Three-Dimension (3-D) Technology,” he quickly added as further elaboration, on what this course entails.
Mwalembe also said that the introduction of this course is completely in line with the DIT’s adoption of a “Teaching Factory Approach”. This means students go through their studies from a “Hands-on-basis”, which starts from the infusion of a concept, through research and onto production.
They are encouraged to do things on their own, with the lecturers playing the role of leaders to tell them when something is good and when not, how to rectify it. This new course, which started four years ago and has sent out its first batch of graduates into the greater society, he said has 50 students currently.
Actually, this course had started some years back, as a short three-month time-span. From this it has managed to send many trained persons into local radio and television stations. This three-year diploma course has come from this and preparations are currently being made to also provide it at degree level, there.
According to Mwalembe the course came to fill a gap which was there. One observance was that when equipment was damaged the person using it, didn’t have the know-how to fix it. This resulted in damaged equipment either being badly repaired or just left damaged.
The second observance was that most film producers came to the Institute with a background of amateur shooting and no formal knowledge of multimedia in general. “Also, we kept on getting completely blank gaps on the game industry.Therefore, one of the components we impart to our students is Game Design. So, when they leave us they can go out there and produce locally-made computer games,” Mwalembe said.
Having noticed that most local film producers copy ideas and plots, simply because they don’t have stories, brought about also teaching all of their students how to create a story. They insist that anything a student does should be original.
That is how, they believe the student learns to think and create original stories, which are brought-up to script, followed by story board then the production line. Such a path of training keeps Mwalembe optimistic that graduates from there will bring a positive change to the contents of local films.
This line, he said is endorsed by also teaching students “the gaps” that are in the local Film Industry. Lastly, students are encouraged to work in teams, so that everyone can participate in all the parts of production. That way they all have the chance to gain a broad practical knowledge, in this area of study.
In another conversation, the Institute’s Principal, Professor Preksedis Ndomba, told the ‘Daily News’ their adaptation of this “Teaching Factory Approach”, is in response to President John Pombe Magufuli’s inauguration speech in Parliament on November 20, 2015. The President had called on institutions and nationals to spearhead the “Industrial Economy” come 2025.
“So, as a public institution, we had to reorganise ourselves in line with the directive of the Head of State,” Prof Ndomba explained. The biggest hurdle, he said they have had to battle with is the “mind-set” of locals, which sadly, he added, includes academics.
This they found to be a “big stumbling block, to say the least”. However, after revisiting the President’s speech they saw it was possible for them to reposition themselves, as an institution, in line with it and that is what they did. Having to reposition, the Principal maintains requires support for it to be fully successful.
As an Institute, he maintains, they should be able to address, through training, the society’s needs. This he said is achieved through their new “Teaching Factory Approach” concept of training. With them, as an academic institution, he maintains they “must have strong linkages with industry and the Government”.
“This is where societal needs come from. It’s not the way we’ve been operating; that’s the mind-set. Academia used to pick problems from nowhere, while they’re supposed to pick them from society through industry and the Government,” Prof Ndomba suggested. He went on to explain that it is the Government who provide a supporting necessary framework for the three to operate.
Now that is why he was very happy that the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, visited their premises last Thursday afternoon. Now, the Principal feels confident that the Government will be able to communicate the Institute’s dreams, mission and call to both them and the industry.
“We’re not supposed to wait for Tanzania’s industrialisation 2025, for it is already there. The coordination is the problem. Once we’ve coordinated everything in time, like the sample of products we’ve shown can be produced in mass production,” he said.
Amongst the products, which Prof Ndomba referred to as being ready for mass-production are dressing shoes and professional leather footballs that met International Football Federation (FIFA) specifications, which are designed and made by the Institution. These things, together with a number of specific equipment, impressed Minister Mwakyembe very much.
“Now I know because we’re using real leather, it’s in the realms of wonders that it could last much longer than the one’s we buy here, use for two days then they burst,” Minister Mwakyembe suggested.