As a growing academic institution, Mukhanyo must continue developing and renewing its programmes. A project to do just that has been ongoing for the past several years and good progress is being made.
New study guides for the two higher certificates (diploma-level) and for the bachelor of theology (degree-level) are now in an advanced phase. Most of the modules – 87 of the 89 – are already in the process of being rewritten and are going through a number of steps such as formatting (twice), editing (twice) and external proofreading.
This upgrade project started in 2018. It is partly financed by international sponsors and is scheduled to run at least until the end of 2022, but most probably will take longer, inter alia because of additional modules being added to strengthen the several programmes and since the Covid-lockdown made it impossible to record lectures.
This project to produce and/or update study material of a high quality involves not only the lecturers, but also the studio videographers, a team of editors, the printers, etc. But the products are something to be proud of and will be used for many years in southern Africa.
Mukhanyo wants to thank book publishers and media distributors for the large number of high quality theological books which have been received during the past few years. The five libraries, one at each campus/advanced learning centre, are now stocked with altogether over 30 000 titles.
All the books are at present catalogued on a newly installed central library computer system. Thus a book can easily be found at one centre and sent to a student or lecturer at another centre, as needed.
This huge job is the responsibility of the newly appointed librarian, Mrs Tienie de Klerk, and her team of assistant librarians at each campus/centre. A new consignment with some 15 000 books is expected to be on its way early next year.
Additionally, increased access to a number of digital resources is being developed to bring Mukhanyo’s libraries up to date with modern media centres.
Mukhanyo trains church leaders for faithful ministry.
Did you know that after completing Mukhanyo’s Bachelor of Theology (BTh) degree, a student will:
Did you also know . . .
Step-by-step Mukhanyo is coming out of the lock-down, not unscathed, but able to go ahead at full strength. Our Lord has enabled the staff to limit the damage to a minimum.
As a result, the following has become possible:
Also in other ways the work is continuing. As an example, we’ve already started to expand Mukhanyo’s communications and marketing activities. And at long last the container with 15,000 theological books from North America arrived and is being catalogued and distributed across the five centres. In addition, 1,500 quality books have been received from the library of the late Rev. Irving Steggles, a long-time board member and friend of the college.
Our Father in heaven has once again been good to us. We thank Him in our prayers and once again we are strengthened in our commitments to serve Him, regardless of circumstances.
Did you know that Mukhanyo is offering in 2020 no less than six qualifications in theology and facilitating about six teacher’s education qualifications? The Bible education qualifications are the following:
Though Mukhanyo has five centres and many more distance study groups, it does not mean the staff can sit back only to monitor and facilitate it all. It means more work and also more opportunities to continue as a growing academic institution with a missional heart, teaching God’s Word far and wide.
At the recent faculty forum (before the lockdown), attended by most of Mukhanyo’s lecturing staff, the principal, Dr Brian DeVries, gave a picture of the work in the year to come. Here are a few of the areas for growth:
Mukhanyo is thankful for about 25,000 books in its libraries at five contact-based centres. Now, in addition to these, a shipment of 15,000 theology books has arrived from North America and has been disembarked in Durban. These mostly new and some used books were donated by several publishers in America.
Without doubt these books will make the Mukhanyo libraries some of the best equipped theological libraries in Southern Africa.
However, there is a challenge. The books are in storage near the Durban harbour and are not as yet allowed to be transported to KwaMhlanga. Books are not a priority during the lock-down. So we have to wait, hopefully only for a few more weeks.
When the books arrive, they will be catalogued and divided between Mukhanyo’s five centres. Any duplicates beyond Mukhanyo’s libraries will be given to other colleges and libraries.
Soon Mukhanyo’s library system will be fully integrated across the five locations. At present more than 20,000 books have been catalogued and are in Mukhanyo’s library system. An upgraded system is being finalised with much greater functionality for students and lecturers.
When the lockdown was announced, all the residential students at KwaMhlanga went home – except six. They are from Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda and not able to go home on such short notice. They remained in Mukhanyo’s hostel and the only thing they could do, was to study – which they have been doing ever since.
Degree student Deng Garang from South Sudan tells the story: “We were left on the campus almost crying, not knowing how our lives will be like as our parents are far away. Truly we were feeling lonely, but thanks to God we were allowed to stay at the compound. At the moment we are thoroughly studying and seriously praying for more revival and that this Corona-virus outbreak comes to an end”.
“We are thankful for the Mukhanyo lecturers who instruct us through WhatsApp and email, enabling us to continue with our study and send our assignments to the lecturers. Things have been challenging but we know after three years at Mukhanyo that everything is in place”.
Yes, Mukhanyo, like all other educational facilities had to close at the end of March. But this did not and does not mean that Mukhanyo’s work came to a standstill. However, some things had to change quite drastically. Mutatis mutandis!
Some staff had to work harder than ever to manage, motivate, arrange and administer, all from home. Which apparently was done quite successfully.
But how did the lecturers continue teaching their students (and still do)? And did the lockdown enable them to get involved in other ways also?
Most lecturers were able to catch up with some of the work which was in arrears or neglected. And many became involved in helping needy families as well as attending to pastoral issues, also in respect of their students. Many also had time for longer devotions and spiritual growth, learning new skills and/or upgrading technology and other skills. Here follows some reports from several Mukhanyo lecturers (very summarised).
Rev Tebogo Mogale reports that he was able to keep in touch with his students via emails, WhatsApp and phone calls. He restructured his pastoral theology module and also submitted an overdue module for the Focus programme.
Dr Gerrit Heino emailed students a detailed overview of the pages of the textbook as well as 87 exam questions to be studied. He’s busy with a lot of marking and with curriculum development for a number of modules. He and his wife also started fundraising in The Netherlands for needy households in and around Pretoria.
Mrs Amanda Nel continued to develop second semester study guides. Some modules were at the last stage of formatting which requires time consuming word-for-word reading and checking. She is also able to keep in contact with her students.
Rev Paul Mahlangu had to read up about the role of women in the church because the topic was discussed in the classis. Problems with digital data made it difficult to work with the fulltime students. Distance students were doing better and they submitted assignments as Rev Paul could guide them, both from their study guides and with some WhatsApp discussions. He’s busy marking assignments and preparing lectures.
Dr Bryson Arthur contracted bronchitis soon after the beginning of the lockdown. Now he is healthy again and his online lectures have been successful. Copies of his new book, A Theology of Suffering, arrived from England, but remains locked-down.
Mr Jacques Malan was forced to learn to use digital methods like recording voice clips from his laptop and sending them by WhatsApp. He also prepared a new Focus module, including the study guide, the question bank and the assignment instructions.
Dr Greg Philip was able to prepare his exam papers and memoranda. He prompted his students with emails and WhatsApp messages, telling them what they could still do and sending them resources. He set up a YouTube account and started recording and uploading video lectures for his students. It was a challenge and an interesting learning curve, even making his own wooden lectern.
Rev Glyn Williams’ mother-in-law passed away two days before lockdown after a five year battle with cancer. Dealing with her estate was a challenge. However, he was able to catch up on several projects, including writing material for two of the new higher certificate modules, updating forms, documents and procedures for distance groups. He also started to prepare a distance tutor training programme and commenced research studies for his MTh degree.
Dr Eben le Roux reports that he had a lovely, chaotic time with three daughters needing guidance with their schoolwork, entertaining his disruptive 4-year old and a teacher-wife who had to teach to 55 kids online. When contacting his students, the problem of suffering became a reality to him. He is thankful for Mukhanyo’s strong teamwork, collective wisdom and committed leadership.
Unfortunately about a third of all Mukhanyo’s campus-based students are at home in areas with limited network and connectivity issues. So we often had to use more unconventional “online” tools to work with them so that they can complete the semester.
As one lecturer concluded: “Despite everything, God has remained faithful and has continued to provide in many ways, physical and spiritual. Soli Deo Gloria.”
Now is the time to tell a good story, not only because it has ended so well, but also because it is the end of four years of hard work, stress and suspense. And above all: It is another amazing story of God’s work!
This real-life story goes like this: Over five years ago Mukhanyo was informed by the authorities that its popular two-year Diploma in Theology had to be phased out. It could be replaced, though, by two separate Higher Certificates, at the same academic level, both of one year each: one in Bible Teaching and one in Church Ministry.
The catch, however, was that Mukhanyo had to design these certificates from scratch and once again apply for accreditation with the education authorities.
Here it must be remembered that accreditation in the African context is important to students. To them an official accreditation, authorised by the authorities, is a sine qua non. There are too many fly-by-night so-called colleges promising everything but disappearing with your money without notice, leaving the student without a qualification.
“O well”, we thought, “let’s go through the motions and apply”. So we did, and more than four years ago the application, together with everything it entails such as the broad outlines of the curriculum, was handed in at the Council for Higher Education (CHE).
What we didn’t know, was that it would be the beginning of a long struggle. But we did know that as from the beginning of 2020, no new diploma students would be allowed to be enrolled in the Diploma programme.
When we started the process, we told our partners, staff and churches that we expected it would take about two years – more or less the normal time it takes to have a new programme accredited by the CHE.
But the CHE had questions, demands and a protracted bureaucratic process. Site visits were conducted at Mukhanyo three times (2016, 2018, and finally 2019). And these inspections implied many things: Do you have the necessary in-house staff, academic and administrative? Are the numerous required policies in place and up to date? Does your library have all the necessary books, prescribed and others? Are your facilities up to standard for higher education? Are your finances such that the institution is sustainable? And so on.
Also a number of visits to the CHE’s offices were necessary to explain and plead. Several times the CHE made procedural mistakes that further delayed the process. Twice the application was partially rejected for unspecified reasons. Then there were new demands and questions. And, in the meantime, the deadline loomed closer and closer.
At present Mukhanyo has some 600 students actively enrolled in the Diploma. If no new students could enrol in either the old Diploma or in the new Higher Certificates, then it would certainly imply a serious decline in the number of students, which would hinder the ministry of many churches. Talk about living dangerously!
Of course, we pleaded with our Father in heaven, again and again. On 6 November, Mukhanyo held another special day of prayer to ask God to direct the process. The CHE met the day following to decide the outcome, presumably based on the report of the latest site visit and on their scrutiny of the latest responses submitted by Mukhanyo.
On 8 November, Mukhanyo was informed that the application was successful and that the new qualifications were fully accredited by the CHE. We thanked the Lord! We still do. The year 2020 will be a good year, because we have a good Lord!
The two Higher Certificates open the door to other opportunities. For example: a few elective modules will be added to one of the qualifications so that it will be more suited for training Christian teachers. And while formerly the two-year Diploma was a requirement for entrance into the BTh degree, now a one year Higher Certificate will do the same.
This was only the climax of many developments in the past year: The completion of considerable improvements to the buildings of the Johannesburg and Pretoria centres, the extension of the Rustenburg study centre into an advanced centre, and the initiation of a Durban centre which, Lord willing, will be launched in January 2020. Also, the BTh Honours programme had a small but sound start.
Additionally, Mukhanyo’s new Focus programme (unaccredited church-based training) has advanced to such a level that it will be fully functional in 2020 at many distance sites. The upgraded BTh Degree in Theology, with almost 100 students, now runs smoothly in several centres. And the roll-out of the upgraded Higher Certificate study guides is making good progress. Some of our international partners recently visited the Pretoria and Johannesburg centres and were very impressed by the improvements.
The Lord has been very good to us. He has made all this possible. So let’s honour Him for all He has done and continues to do for Mukhanyo. But we know it is ultimately not for Mukhanyo’s sake, but for His almighty greatness and honour. May we continue to serve Him the way He wants to be served!
Just a good story? No. It is a great story! “Clap your hands, all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:1-2).