Forest Industries Training Institute, Tanzania

The Forest Industries Training Institute (FITI) was established in 1975 as a high-level training facility for the Tanzanian wood industry. giving young school-leavers a pathway out of poverty with vocational training in saw milling, saw doctoring, woodworking, and logging & machine technology.

Grant Sim working in Tanzania (large)Initiated with the financial assistance of the Swedish, then Finnish, governments, FITI is now managed by the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Its mission is to develop among its students skills and knowledge relevant to the changing socio-economic and technological requirements of the mechanical wood industries.

Approximately 68% of 45 million Tanzanians live below the poverty line. Poor education and unsustainable harvesting of natural resources are among the most prominent challenges to poverty reduction. FITI's research, extension and consultancy services place a priority on sustainable use of forest resources and environmental protection to contribute meaningfully to the country's poverty reduction targets.

Location

The FITI campus is located in the industrial sector of Moshi municipality on the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Home to the Chagga and Maasai tribes, Moshi is an urban environment with a population of approximately 150,000. A centre for a number of higher education facilities, it has the reputatiion of being the cleanest town in Tanzania, with a growing number of restaurants and cafes. The main market is known as Soko La Kati and there is a large, open-air market known as Kiboriloni that has been running for decades. Residents of the Kilimanjaro region are predominantly Christian and a very hospitable and welcoming people. Both English and Kiswahili are used in most workplaces in Tanzania; English is the medium of instruction. Cultural tours, walking, hiking, and mountain climbing are all popular tourist pastimes.

Assistance requested

The bulk of FITI’s recurrent funding comes from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Student fees cover costs of training and a small percentage is raised from income-generating activities (woodworking & sawmill). However the Tanzanian government now requires FITI to be able to fund itself and the institute needs assistance in transitioning to a viable commercial enterprise. The upgrading of FITI from Certificate Course to Diploma will help position it as a centre of excellence but there is need for technical training and updating methods of academic and practical pedagogy. 

Impact

Through the Australian Volunteers program, an Australian Government initiative, FITI staff are supported to improve teaching competencies in woodworking and practical building skills, to develop better training models, explore possible areas for commercial expansion, and establish thorough financial record keeping. Over its lifetime the institute has been responsible for training a total of 1,610 students, comprising 139 certificate students, 25 diplomas, and 1,446 trained on short vocational courses.