My perspective: “What is ahead of Tertiary Education in Malawi?”

I guess it is prominent to start by commending the current administration for remembering education as one of the essential tools this Nation is striving to possess. As the adage goes “a nation without education resembles something lifeless”. Well, let me unfold the package and see the stemming point. I have just come across the pictures of the single bank note of k2000 and it made me to stop for a moment, figuring out what could be the theme on the note this time around. It pleases me and I think am not the only one, to see the theme of education flouting and outshining on this new bank note.

At the back of this bank note there is a picture of Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) and a microscope. All these denote or symbolize development in education sector, that is to say education is not granted cold shoulder. It is clearly shown that people are told there is much consideration invested in education system and the progress of developing it is taking a big stride. Well, it is good to embrace education system in such a way, who doesn’t wish to fill the brain with knowledge? But this carries a profound weight if the practical conceptions suit that of theoretical as planned.

I guess one can’t stand on ant- hill and shout all is well before setting free indoor miseries. Despite of this development, there is an undisputed fact that there are some wounds in education system particularly at the tertiary level that needs special treatment. It has now become a culture to hear that the University X is closed; College Y under the University Z is closed; Students or Lecturers of College W are on strike… well, there is a possibility that all these problems have common sources. To critically analyze the situation at hand with the solo aim of finding the source, it is inescapable to project eyes at issues of money. Probably Money is a major cause of all these challenges.

Unlike in the previous years where academic freedom was a hot issue, salary increments and fee hikes are at play. We have seen lecturers and supporting stuffs from various institutions demanding salary increment. It seems things have changed now; their fixed salaries can’t withstand the demand of their livelihoods. But the employers seem to be deaf. I guess they have reasonable stance for their reluctance.

We have also head of the misunderstandings between students and authorities in education system. The authorities claim they have identified flaws in the education system and hence want to improve the quality of the service they provide. The only solution which they opt for is fee hike. This turned to be unwelcomed proposal for many college students and different stakeholders, which led to misunderstanding between the parties. This issue ushered in the closure of some Colleges and the effect is still prevailing since some of these colleges are not operating up to date.

It is beyond unreasonable doubt that all these misunderstandings have perpetuated delays in tertiary education sector. As of now, students are spending more than five years for a bachelor’s degree program which is meant for four years. We have noticed the issues of double cohort. Can we say we are not tired of these?

It’s very pathetic and interesting as well that when these problems arise many tend to make politics a victim. Instead of focusing on the solutions they tend to blame others, giving the public false pictures in favor of poor management.

Sometimes I wonder if these institutions are really run by well knowledgeable people, the likes of those who glue tightly to their titles. Can we say that it is a burden to them to have a round table and have well constructed dialogues pertaining to the problems at hand? If yes, then why do these wounds seem to be unhealed while we have professional doctors perceiving them grow?

The blames, of course, are put anywhere. Yesterday we heard that, today we hear this, and tomorrow another version of the same story. Is it valid to point figures at the drivers of education system? Can we infer that the drivers we have are incompetent? I suggest somehow we need to be matured; there is a need to solve some of these problems earlier before they pile up rather than wasting time pointing fingers at each other.

There is no need to instill doubts in people’s minds, it is apparent we need to look for best solutions through constructive and productive strategies instead of sticking on to the old beliefs that things get better as time passes. Have we forgotten that the development and the future of this beloved Nation are in the hands of education? That any barrier along the way can lead the nation astray?

I suggest if we can work together as a unified nation holding one banner these problems will not be issues. But if this won’t work we should get prepared for more challenges.

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