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American servicemembers deployed to the Horn of Africa are now able to attend college classes on base for the first time.

Central Texas College began offering four classes earlier this month at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

And the University of Maryland University College will start offering seven courses for troops later this month.

“We have a very good feeling about Djibouti and Camp Lemonier,” said Allan Berg, UMUC director in Europe. “There are a lot of troops there who want to get their degrees.”

Navy Chief Petty Officer Margaret Greer, educational services officer on base, said word has gotten around.

“We’ve been inundated with tuition-assistance applications,” she said.

UMUC has been offering classes to servicemembers in Europe — and more recently a variety of downrange locations — for almost 60 years. But other than a very small presence in Egypt, it hasn’t offered any classes on the African continent since American forces left bases, such as Wheelus Air Base in Libya, in the early 1970s.

There are currently about 2,400 troops from all the services based at Camp Lemonier.

Like UMUC, Central Texas College is offering classes in Djibouti for the first time. Its initial offering consists of criminal justice courses.

“This is just to get started,” said James Keiser, staff coordinator for CTC in Europe. “We are planning on expanding.”

Berg said UMUC will start off with four weekend seminars on computers and three standard classes on mathematics, economics and computers.

“We’re opening up our doors and offering a very basic curriculum for term one,” he said. “We’re going to see what the response is, what the students want and go from there.”

One full-time professor and a full-time field representative could eventually be supplemented by qualified active-duty personnel or contractors who want to share their expertise in specific subjects. Berg said if there’s enough demand, more full-time professors — and more subjects — would follow.

“This has the feel for something that’s going to grow,” he said.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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