Mukhanyo’s Distance Groups
A Success and Much Potential
A success, yes! But always room for improvement, growth, and huge potential to train church leaders to preach the Bible and be equipped to plant and run churches. That, in a nutshell, is what Mukhanyo Theological College is increasingly doing, not only in South Africa but also in six other African countries.
Gone are the days when Mukhanyo was only a college in KwaMhlanga, a semi-rural area some 65km northeast of Pretoria. Today it also has some 80 distance groups all over the country and beyond, as well as full-time study centres in Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Pretoria and Durban. The five campuses/centres together have some 300 active students and growing.
But the fastest-growing area of Mukhanyo’s activities is its distance programme. At present, the 80 centres have over 700 active students and 151 registered tutors. Pastor Glyn Williams, Lecturer and Distance Manager, reports that seven new centres were registered in the last year (despite the pandemic), and enquiries were recently received for eight potential centres in four countries, three of them outside South Africa where no Mukhanyo centres currently exist.
In 2019, 76 students completed their Diploma in Theology. Some have continued their studies and started their BTh degree, while others want to start their own distance groups. Glyn has visited many centres and is impressed with the high level of dedication by both the tutors and students. But he’s also recognises the need for more tutor support and training.
At the annual Distance Forum in September, the improvement of material delivery, the provision of quality material (study guides and DVDs), as well as further empowering group leaders, was discussed. This is already a high priority, with the implementation of a tutor training programme, tutor self-assessment and student support.
This year the Distance Forum took place at Mukhanyo’s Johannesburg Campus, where most group leaders attended online through Zoom. Not without technical hitches, of course, but proving that the future servicing of distance groups through technology is viable.
The distance programme is substantially subsidised by donors, something for which Mukhanyo is very thankful, especially now, in that even through the COVID-19 pandemic, donors have shown to be able and willing to continue their contributions. This enabled the Mukhanyo staff to continue developing and improving programmes, and serving the distance groups.
Many groups were able to continue meeting during the lock-down, either physically or online using various platforms. For some this proved more difficult due to distance and limited facilities. But the pandemic also proved that distance study is viable, and that academic quality can be maintained without ignoring the importance of dedicated and equipped tutors.
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