International Tourism Education- East Africa

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The 20th and the early part of the 21st century have been associated with very rapid
changes in virtually all aspects of life. Internationalisation of trade and, therefore, gradually
the labour markets are trends that seem to affect all economic sectors and tourism is
no exception. Consequently, there are numerous challenges confronting the human
resource development landscape be it at national or regional level. Tourism training and
education in particular thrives in a global context where traditional priorities of predictability
and stability (in line with Newtonian–Cartesian paradigm) seem to give way to
greater flexibility, adaptability and a high demand for transferability of skills across borders
and across sectors.
Tourism is by its very nature a global phenomenon. There therefore needs to be co-operation
and collaborative initiatives if tourism training and education systems are to remain relevant
in meeting the needs of both industry and the student. Co-operation is necessary both
in the sourcing of students and the provision of training and education. In the case of developing
countries, co-operation and collaboration among institutions and governments may
help to achieve economies of scale and are potentially efficient ways of utilising meagre economic
resources. Consequently, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in its outline
of policy objectives, recognises the need for regional co-operation to ensure efficient utilisation
of the continent’s tourism resources. This emphasises the salient need for co-operation
among African countries at all levels in the development of attractions, capital infrastructure,
natural and human resources to serve the needs of the domestic and international interregional
and intra-regional tourism sectors. For this regionalism goal to be realised, the small
sub-regional groupings are vital. Regional integration presents great opportunities for partnerships
and linkages both at inter-government and institutional levels.
The case for co-operation in the East African sub-region is particularly strong for a number
of reasons: the three countries namely Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have had very
strong historical ties since the colonial period; they rely very heavily on nature-based
tourism; and their tourism is inbound. Thus, the structure and nature of tourism systems are
fundamentally similar. In addition, domestic and intra-regional tourism movements are necessary
to cushion the sub-region from the turbulence that has characterised the traditional
source markets of Europe and North America in recent years. In this thread, the progress
in tourism and training and education within East Africa is examined and the prospects for
co-operation discussed. A number of co-operative arrangements are proposed including harmonisation
of qualifications, collaborative curriculum development, research, discussions
and exchange of ideas, joint publications, information dissemination, as well as technical
and student exchanges. The thread recognises the different levels of co-operation and collaboration
and strongly advocates greater involvement at the institutional level.
The historical experience of the countries of East Africa can perhaps provide lessons for
regional integration and co-operation in the African continent as a whole (Sindiga, 1999).
The East African Community (EAC), bringing together Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, was
formed soon after the independence of the three countries around 1963 and became the
most promising community in sub-Saharan Africa boasting a common currency, wellcoordinated
infrastructure, harmonised economic policies, common institutions and labour
mobility (World Bank, 1989). Consequently, there was easy tourism flow within the
region. The EAC, however, collapsed in 1977, largely due to ideological and political differences
between leaders of the member countries and mistrust resulting from perceived
imbalance in the share of economic benefits.
Co-operation in tourism in East Africa can be traced back to about 1938 when a common
tourism policy within the region began to emerge (Sindiga, 1999). This led to the
formation of the East African Publicity Association (EAPA). A Governors’ conference
that took keen interest in developing tourism followed. It is this conference that paved the
way for a regional tourism conference in 1947. This chain of events culminated in the formation
of a quasi-government organization with the role of developing and promoting
tourism to the region, the East African Tourist Travel Association (EATTA) incorporated
in 1948. Tour operators and others were able to operate tours freely in any of the three
countries as a result of this framework. Soon after the independence of the three countries,
however, cracks began to appear in the system with some members complaining of
gaining less (Dieke, 1998). This was soon followed by the collapse of EATTA in 1965.
All collaborative efforts and all forms of co-operation in tourism came to an end following
the EAC’s collapse in 1977. Tanzania even closed its borders with Kenya. There are
now deliberate measures in place aimed at reviving the EAC albeit with new understanding
between members.

[ by Tourism at 3-10-2009 23:49 edited ]

The treaty for the reestablishment of the EAC was signed on 30th November 1999. This
provides new challenges and great opportunities for the region in as far as regional
co-operation is concerned (Kamar, 2003). Article 115 (1) of the treaty on tourism, in particular,
outlines (in part) the undertaking of the member states to develop a collective and
co-ordinated approach to the promotion and marketing of quality tourism into and within
the EAC. Kamar further cites the need to establish a regional framework for co-operation
in such areas as education and human resources development. In fact, section (2) of the
same article is even more specific in suggesting that the member countries ‘harmonise professional
standards of agents in the tourism and travel industry within the community’
(EAC, 2002, p. 86). Within this policy framework, three ‘centres of excellence’ for tourism
training and education have been identified: Soroti Flying School in Uganda, Kenya Utalii
College in Kenya (KUC) and College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM), Mweka,
in Tanzania (Kamar, 2003).
A major lesson to be learned from the East African experience of co-operation is that
co-operation at the inter-governmental level relies very heavily on the political will of the
governments of the day. It is the view of the author that there are regional socio-anthropological
factors, the discussion of which is beyond the scope of this thread, that impact
upon the politics of the region and, indeed, sub-Saharan Africa (see Hofstede, 1980).
Given these anthropological and political contexts, co-operation between institutions provides
a quicker means for realising common goals for tourism. Such co-operation, and in
the context of the present thread, among tourism training and educations institutions, may
hasten and inspire greater co-operation at the intergovernmental level. Metaphorically, this
may be likened to friendly relationships which often develop between parents of children
whose sense of camaraderie is developed either at play or at school.
In order for meaningful regional cooperation in tourism to take place, there has to be
recognition of two equally important levels (Figure 1): intergovernmental co-operation and
sectoral-technical co-operation at institutional level (Dieke, 1998). Sectoral co-operation
can be realised through existing professional associations and bodies such as African Hotel
Association (AHA), Association of Hotel Schools in Sub-Saharan Africa (AHSSA),
African Tourist Training Centre Association (ATTCA), African Travel and Tour
Operations Association (ATTOA) and, as is being proposed in the current thread, through
institutions of learning such as colleges and universities. As has been stated previously,
co-operation at one level can easily lead others. As depicted in Figure 1 there is a likelihood
of closer bonds and ties between two institutions than say two states. The bonds so
formed can strengthen the relationship at the intergovernmental level. The result is a network
of institutions and other stakeholders.
The lesson from the EAC is that the strong intergovernmental commitment can only
exist in an environment of even stronger ties and linkages at the institutional level. Lack of
these strong ties at institutional level may have contributed to EAC’s failure.
Regional co-operation in tourism education and training can be a means of gaining
competitive advantage for the entire sub-region through the development of the appropriate
human resource pool. Arguably, a competent workforce could be a means of achieving
resilience in the wake of region-specific turbulence in international inbound tourism as has
been experienced in recent times (Mayaka & King, 2002). It has to be borne in mind that
the tourism industry in Kenya, for example, has in the past attributed its success to strong
private sector participation (Ikiara, 2001). Co-operation at institutional level could also be
a means of forming linkages with other regions as well as enhancing existing ones.
Without ignoring competition of individual countries for the tourist dollar, it is reasonable
to think that emergence of the EAC as a trading block also engenders a vibrant local market
that individual firms and enterprises could tap into. Regional tourism is not only desirable
but also necessary for Africa (Dieke, 1998, p. 30). Currently, there is no co-operation
on the ground in tourism, let alone tourism training and education.

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3-10-2009 23:49

Figure 1: Regional co-operation in tourism at two levels.

[ by Tourism at 3-10-2009 23:49 edited ]

There is debate currently going on about the nature of tourism education and the emerging
trans-national content of curriculum and the global distribution of graduates (Richards,
1998). Within this context, the European Union (EU) sponsored ERASMUS educational
exchange, for example, has seen student exchanges between participating universities and
exchange agreements between them. The SOCRATES programme initiated through
ATLAS in 1996 shifted from small subject networks to contracts between institutions.
However, within this institutional understanding there were created European Thematic
Networks (ETN) bringing together groups of academics single subject areas together on a
European-wide basis to discuss issues of common interest.
The stated aims of the ETNs were ‘to define and develop a European dimension’ within
a given academic discipline through co-operation between university facilities or departments
and academic associations (Richards, 1998). Such co-operation could lead to curriculum
development which will have lasting impact across a range of institutions. Within
the 1996–1997 academic year there were over 400 expressions of interest in the first call
for proposals for ETNs. The process of co-operation and collaboration first began with discussions
between educational institutions in consultations with industry. The addition of
the ‘European dimension’ to the body of knowledge not only illustrates the similarities in
tourism supply and demand within the region but also highlights the differences. This
European experience could provide a model for co-operation and collaboration between
institutions within the East African region.
Holloway has observed that there is increasing collaboration between industry and educationalists
(in Richards, 1998). In addition, governing bodies of colleges are increasingly
dominated by representatives from industry. There is also technology transfer from industry,
e.g. in the case of small island nations’ institutions in the Pacific benefiting from relationships
with international airlines, e.g. Qantas Airlines (King, 1996). The biggest
challenge in this scenario is the tendency for industry to have less concern for general
skills that are transferable between organisations than job-specific skills serving the technical
needs of individual tourism sectors. More importantly, however, this collaboration
with industry would bring about much greater benefits through the synergy created in
regions from resulting networks and partnerships.
An education system must be relevant to the needs and contexts of its learners.
Accordingly, a regional approach to co-operation in tourism training and education has two
key advantages. First, it achieves an important goal of being international (thus ensuring
mobility of the learner). Second, such co-operation is likely to ensure that the curriculum is
context-related (Cooper, 2000). Internationalisation of the industry and the related training
and education is only a dream if the learners cannot realise the key goal of being able to find
the relevant employment. It is, thus, easy to see how a student from the South East Asia
region is likely to find a job from within any country in the sub-region (international nature)
since the nature and structure of the tourism industry within the region bears resemblance
(a regional context). This is more feasible than say a tourism student from East Africa (having
studied all his life in the same region) finding a job in Europe (a somewhat alien context).
In the East African region, linkages between industry, educationalists and community
would be in line with the sustainable tourism initiatives aimed at ensuring that tourism
benefits local communities (Kamar, 2003). Moi University’s ‘Division of Tourism’ (which
brings together three departments of Hospitality, Travel and Tour Operations Management
and Tourism Management) for example, has recently made attempts to work with local
operators and communities in Western Kenya to identify and revive pro-poor tourism projects
(27 have been identified). This form of linkage with the local economy is one of the
best ways to enhance local economic benefits. From a systems’ perspective, a co-operative
arrangement between Moi and another university, for example, is likely to have a flow on
effect to linked local communities.
In this age of knowledge-based economies, local community links with universities are
vital. These communities are likely to benefit from collaborative research and through
technical assistance offered by the latter. Success of collaborative initiatives where local
communities work closely with university departments have been observed to be effective
means of community capacity building (Jeffries, 2001; Aisensen, Bezanson, Frank, &
Reardon, 2002). Jeffries cites relevant examples of local university/community collaboration
in UK, France and USA. In one such example, Coventry Warwickshire Promotions is
a not-for-profit destination marketing company whose board has representatives from
three universities, the local chamber of commerce and tourist trade interests. These sorts
of linkages are in line with the vision of regional integration in East Africa aimed at creating
wealth, alleviating poverty and raising the living standards and quality of life of its
people (Kamar, 2003).

Up to the 1960s there was no tourism education policy in Kenya (Sindiga, 1999). The
tourism businesses were hitherto run by expatriates. Tourism and hospitality education had
its debut in Kenya in 1969 through the introduction of a hotel management course at the
Kenya Polytechnic. The hotel management focus of this course was obviously narrow and
so there was still need for broader training and education to cover other areas in tourism.
This led to the establishment of KUC as a joint project between the Swiss and Kenyan governments
in 1975.
KUC now offers courses for the accommodation, travel and tour operating sectors. The
college admits both local students and students from 40 other countries (Sindiga, 1994).
Due to its limited capacity, KUC has not been able to meet all training needs. This has led
to the proliferation of middle level institutions both public and private which now number
up to 119 in the whole country (Mayaka, 1999; Mayaka & King, 2002; Sindiga, 1996).
Unfortunately, the private provision seems to be so heavily commercialised that there have
been calls for regulation and a harmonisation of both curricula and qualifications (Sindiga,
1994; Mayaka, 1999; Mayaka & King, 2002). Efforts are underway to establish some
mechanism for standardisation and harmonisation. Tourism training and education is the
only major means of indigenisation of the management and ownership of tourism businesses.
Such indigenisation, it is argued, will increase employment within the industry by
reducing the level of foreign exchange leakage (Mayaka, 1999; Sindiga, 1999).
Continuing training and education in tourism is lacking and is currently limited to
refresher and management development courses normally run over 2-week periods at KUC.
This is a matter of great concern, especially since a vast majority of those working in the
industry (including high-level managers) still remain untrained (Mayaka & King, 2002).
Tourism training and education at university level was initiated at Moi University’s
Chepkoilel Campus in 1992 following a presidential committee report that decried a lack
of conceptual and high-level management skills in the existing training and education
(Republic of Kenya, 1991). Other universities such as Maseno University, Kenyatta
University, Nairobi University and now Egerton University have followed suit with introduction
of either departments in tourism and related areas (e.g. hospitality and institutional
management) or tourism subjects within traditional discipline-based departments such as
Geography, Business, History, etc. The African Virtual University based at Kenyatta
University also offers some tourism subjects via distance education while United States
International University (USIU) has a department of hospitality and tourism within the
Faculty of Business. Moi University is the foremost institution, having three specialised
departments namely Tourism (policy and planning), Travel and Tour Operations
Management and Hospitality and Hotel Management and now offers degrees up to master
level and is in the process of developing a Ph.D. programme. There is potential for establishing
a school of tourism, travel and hospitality studies at Moi University.
Despite the apparent advancement in tourism training and education in Kenya, there are
still big gaps in a number of areas. Tourism training and education is uncoordinated as there
is still no one body that oversees all the activities. Each institution offers what it deems fit
for the industry sometimes in a parochial way. In addition, it is a matter of concern that there
may not be enough qualified staff in many of the institutions. Educate the educator programmes
such as the one developed by the World Tourism Organization (WTO)
(WTO/Surrey, 1996) would be of great benefit. A national tourism training and education
strategy in line with national tourism policies has been proposed (Mayaka, 1999).

Tourism research is still lacking, partly due to lack of focus, motivation and even funding.
There is room for collaboration of institutions of higher learning through research and
exchanges in seminars and conferences. Similar initiatives elsewhere, for example the
Council of Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Educators (CAUTHE), could provide
models for the East African region (King, 1996). The only conference that brings
scholars and researchers in tourism together is one annually organised by Moi University’s
Department of Tourism (MUDOT), which is yet to acquire greater publicity and gain status
as a national or regional event. It is the author’s view that institutions could mutually benefit
through exchanges even on methods of delivery. The application of problem-based learning
(PBL) which has taken root in MUDOT and its sister departments is, for example,
unique in tourism-related studies. Its effectiveness and challenges could provide useful
insights to other institutions through such exchanges.
In countries that attach a lot of importance to tourism, education is not only offered at
colleges and universities, but in schools (especially at high school level) (see King, 1996).
This component is lacking in Kenya. Teaching tourism and hospitality in school would
have an added advantage of increasing general public awareness, especially of its benefits
and impacts and the role of the host community in the inbound tourism systems. This
would also increase the prospects of students developing early interest in tourism as a field
of study. The end result may be the attraction of the best brains into this field of study and,
therefore, the enhancement of research and scholarship in tourism and hospitality. Coupled
with this, is the need to extend basic education to include skills that are beyond numeracy
and literacy skills (which are important but not the only ones relevant in modern society)
as a means of capacity building (Esbin, 2002). Given the role that basic education plays in
an individual’s life, it is important and in the best interest of any nation to consider
tourism-related skills in this formative pedagogic experience in its education system.

Tourism training and education in Tanzania is relatively less developed (when compared
with her northern neighbour Kenya). The National College of Tourism in Dar-es-Salaam,
established in 1969, offers certificate courses in the areas of hospitality namely: food production,
front office operations, food and beverage sales and services as well as housekeeping
and laundry. Plans are underway to expand the college through a donor-funded
project. The Hotel and Tourism Training Institute at Arusha also offers technical training
under a UNDP/ILO assisted project. Management training and education in tourism and
related areas is hitherto obtained in Kenya or in Europe (URT/ NOVIJVP, 1995). There
have also been proposals to the University of Dar-es-Salaam to develop management modules
in tourism and hospitality but this has not happened yet.
Tanzania’s success story has been the CAWM at Mweka. The story of this college (popularly
known as Mweka College) is particularly important as it depicts just what partnerships
and collaborations can achieve. It is to be noted that, although this is not a tourism
or hospitality college, it fits into ‘related areas’ and so is included in the current thread
since tourism in East Africa is predominantly wildlife based.
The CAWM was established in 1963 after the chief game wardens and directors of
national parks from Tanzania and Kenya along with representatives of ministries concerned
with wildlife management, a representative from the then East African Common
Services Organisation (EACSO, a precursor of EAC) and a senior game warden from the
then Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) laid down the necessary formal framework (CAWM,
1995). The college received substantial funding from donor governments and agencies
including: USAID, Frankfurt Zoological Society, African Wildlife Leadership Foundation,
Federal Republic of Germany, British Government, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Ford
Foundation. The Government of Tanzania provided the land and buildings among other
things. The most remarkable feature of Mweka College is that its composition is very evidently
regional and includes states and institutions. EACSO and later the EAC, the East
African University (the only one at the time) were represented. Kenya and Uganda still
have representation in the 15 member Governing Board by virtue of having students studying
in the college.
Mweka College has maintained a regional outlook both in its organisation and
approaches to curriculum development and delivery. Apart from receiving 47% of its students
from the sub-region it deliberately recruits teaching staff from the other East African
countries. It also hosts conferences and seminars that are regional in nature. An interesting
observation is the fact that the Principal is also a member of the Governing Board of the
National College of Tourism.

Of the three East African countries, Uganda is a relative newcomer in tourism training and
education, which could be attributed to its turbulent political history, particularly in the
1970s and the 1980s. The Crested Crane Hotel & Tourism Training Institute in Jinja
(Uganda’s second largest and most industrial town) was established by government statute
in 1994 to offer the highest level of professional qualifications and standards for the
tourism industry in Uganda. Another public college, Buganda Royal Institute offers diplomas
in Tourism Management and in Hotel and Institutional Catering. There are now several
private colleges.
The first tourism and related course at university level was offered at Nkuba University
in Makerere in 1994. Makerere University’s Faculty of Business Management also offers
diplomas in leisure and hospitality management which includes modules in tourism while
Kampala International University offers diplomas in both tourism and catering and hotel
management. There is a growing interest in tourism and hospitality studies as a whole.

The foregoing analysis of the development of tourism training and education in the three
East African countries underlines the fact that the three countries are at different levels of
economic progress and hence tourism development. According to the World Bank, Kenya
is designated as ‘developing country’ while Tanzania and Uganda are ‘least developed’
(WTO, 2002). There are prospects of each benefiting from each other’s experiences. This
could, for example, be easily facilitated through exchanges of academics, students and
flow of knowledge across the region. The prospects of such exchanges have even been
made easier by changes in the political landscape brought about by the realisation of the
need to form a regional economic block.
The absence of travel restrictions for citizens of the three countries, for example, means
that students from Tanzania can have access to higher, yet cheaper education in Kenya and
not Europe or North America as has been the case. Flow of knowledge could also be facilitated
through conferences and institutional networks. Harmonisation of qualifications and
collaborative curriculum development could be achieved through subject and thematic
networks cited above. This is particularly important if quality standards in tourism products
and services have to be harmonised across the three member countries. The differences
(e.g. cultural) should also be highlighted in this context. A tourist on a circuit that
includes Kenya and Uganda should not realise disparity in the level of service quality
across the border. Labour mobility within the region is desirable and could be realised as
a result of such collaborative initiatives.
It is also clear from the above that tourism training and education, except perhaps in
Kenya’s case, has been dominated by craft/technician and middle level colleges. However,
as the industry in the three countries is maturing, there is increasing need for managers at
strategic level for the industry and its component sectors. There is still little integration in
the individual countries between industry and training providers. This integration has to be
sought along with the establishment of linkages and other collaborative initiatives between
institutions. There are also prospects of co-operation in forming the body of knowledge as
well as delivery of visitor education, especially since the countries share similar natural as
well as cultural and historical heritage.
Tourism training and education has always attracted international organizations such
as WTO, ILO and the donor community interest. There are prospects of exploring this
further in order to raise the level and quality of tourism training and education in the
region. Raising the quality of training and education increases the possibility of exporting
the same by way of receiving students from other parts of the continent if not other
parts of the world.
There are issues that have to be addressed in each country and ultimately in the entire
region. The issue of supply versus demand (e.g. graduate and post graduate) has to be
addressed. There is no simple way to deal with this except through careful manpower planning
in each country. However, the issue strengthens the case for co-operation and collaboration
as there may not be, for example, a need for duplication of courses that are offered
by another institution across the border if capacity exists. The issue of narrowing the gap
between industry and providers is critical. Given the different levels of development, there
are different expectations in co-operation and collaboration initiatives. There is need for
harmonising policies and legislation to avoid mistrust and to provide the necessary broader
legal and policy framework for co-operation and collaboration. Institutions entering into
collaboration and co-operation have to have well thought through agreements, contracts or
memoranda of understanding to avoid misunderstandings.

The thread has highlighted the need for co-operation and collaboration in the teaching of
tourism within the East African region. This is in view of the fact that the countries share
a common cultural, natural and historical heritage. There have been attempts to foster such
co-operation before but this succumbed to various challenges, particularly at the political,
inter-governmental level. It has been noted that there is now a new political landscape
emerging and this is favourable for co-operation in tourism. The thread, however, argues
that strong and sustainable co-operation can only be achieved through strong institutional
networks and linkages.
Collaborative and co-operation efforts can be directed in the areas of exchanges:
exchange of knowledge; student exchanges; staff and technical exchanges as well as
exchange of ideas through conferences, discussions and even joint publication. There is a
need for harmonisation of standards and curricula in order to achieve harmony in the level
of quality of tourism products and services in the region. This harmonisation can be at subject
and theme levels and should highlight differences in the countries as each is unique.
Harmonisation would reduce waste through duplication, since there is no point in starting
a course that is being offered in another institution which has enough capacity to accommodate
students from the region. Linkages between institutions of learning have the potential
to integrate with local communities and, therefore, to impact on local economies.
Improving the level of quality of tourism training and education in the region has the
potential of being of economic benefit by way of attracting students from other parts of
the continent and even the world. In addition, there is the likelihood of achieving the
dream of establishing an economic block (EAC) through improved intra-regional tourism.
Intra-regional tourism has the potential of cushioning the region from the effects of
volatility of international tourism originating from traditional European and North
American countries. This thread acknowledges that there are issues and challenges that
have to be overcome in cooperating in the area of tourism training and education. These
should be addressed if such co-operation and collaboration is to be sustainable. The position
taken in this thread is that, with the current moves towards integration of the East
African region as an economic block, co-operation and collaboration is in the long-term
interests of the region and is achievable.

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