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Beware of fake online course offers targeting Tanzanians on Facebook

IN SHORT: Ignore bogus free online courses advertised on Facebook for Tanzanians. The two public universities mentioned in the posts have denied offering free courses and certificates.

Free online courses supposedly offered by two public universities in Tanzania have been advertised on Facebook.

The ad, dated 10 April 2024, reads: “Chuo Kikuu cha Dodoma kinatoa kozi za mtandaoni bila malipo, kompyuta mpakato na vyeti vya serikali (Pamoja na ufadhili wa masomo) … ” 

Translated from Kiswahili, it reads: “The University of Dodoma is offering free online courses, laptops, and government certificates (including scholarships) … ”

The University of Dodoma is a public institution located in the capital city of Dodoma in central Tanzania.

Tanzania has made impressive efforts to expand access to free education. Since 2002, free pre-primary and primary education has been provided to many through government initiatives such as the primary education development plan and the free basic education policy

The term “free” can be relative. School fees may be waived. However, families may still have to pay for uniforms, supplies and even contributions to school maintenance. For some, especially those living in poverty, these costs can make education unaffordable.

The government also provides free secondary education, but as with primary education, there may be unforeseen costs.

University education in Tanzania generally requires tuition fees. Costs can vary depending on the university, the course chosen and any additional fees.

Similar posters have been published claiming that the Open University of Tanzania also offers free online courses. The Open University of Tanzania is a public distance learning institution located in Dar es Salaam, one of the largest cities in the country.

These posts also appear here, here, here and here. They are accompanied by a link to a website where interested applicants can allegedly view the free online courses on offer.

So are these Tanzanian universities offering free online courses? We checked.

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Fake online courses

The link in the posts takes users to an advert for online courses offered elsewhere, not by the two Tanzanian universities. 

We could not find these courses on the universities’ websites.

The University of Dodoma, through its official Facebook account, dismissed the announcements of free online courses as “FAKE NEWS”.

Along with a screenshot of the announcement being circulated, the university wrote in Kiswahili: “Sio Taarifa Rasmi iliyotolewa na Chuo Kikuu cha Dodoma!”

This translates to: “This is not an official statement from the University of Dodoma!”

The Open University of Tanzania followed suit, calling the announcement fake.

The claim exploits Tanzanian citizens’ desire for affordable education.

For more tips on how to stay safe on social media, see Africa Check’s guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.

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