Chanco students in infrastructure refurbishments

Chancellor College, a constituent of the University of Malawi, is one of the oldest high-learning institutions in the country.

Chanco Rejuvination Project founder Isabel Kumwembe

Chanco Rejuvination Project founder Isabel Kumwembe

The Chanco Project Rejuvination Team now led by Paul Ntulumba (standing) who is also the Students Union president

The Chanco Project Rejuvination Team now led by Paul Ntulumba (standing)

The Chanco Open Theatre under renovations.

The Chanco Open Theatre under renovations.

Over the years, the college, built in 1973 and popularly known as Chanco, has seen some of its structures deteriorate.

The situation prompted a group of learners to start a programme called ‘Chanco: Project Rejuvenation’, a student driven initiative aimed at rehabilitating dilapidated institutions of importance.

Founded in 2012 by Isabel Kumwembe, now an alumna, the grouping has so far rehabilitated two lecture roomsat the college and is currently refurbishing the Chanco open theatre.

“From the moment I stepped into my dormitory, on my first day at Chanco, I was moved by the state of infrastructure. Distraught by the laissez-faire attitude by many towards playing a part in development issues and the love for my country, I founded the project,” explains the 24-year-old Kumwembe.

She says being a student at Chanco, she witnessed first-hand problems that students face at the college, which the state of infrastructure has been one of the greatest issues of concern.

“The deterioration of infrastructure is an issue many of us complain about, but seldom do anything about. I felt it was long overdue for someone to step up to the task and do something about. I decided I wanted to be that person.

“I could not do it alone and knew that there was power in numbers. A group of students ready to rebuild their college, an advocate for the return of its lost glory was formed and our project established,” she tells how the project started.

According to Kumwembe, the initiative does not only target infrastructure at the college but other institutions as well, hence besides the projects at Chanco, they have also rehabilitated a learning block at Mponda Primary School in the same Zomba district.

But why should this be the responsibility of students when it is supposed to be government’s obligation or other stakeholders?

Kumwembe answers: “Our objective is simple: rehabilitate attitudes as we rehabilitate infrastructure. We have always emphasized on one thing; the unified power of the people and one’s inherent ability to affect change.

“We believe in upholding ones social responsibility and are built on the spirit of volunteerism. We believe volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges.

“Our philosophy is we should never be enslaved by the power of dependency and that everybody plays a part in building the nation we hope for.We all need to be participants.”

The Chanco: Project Rejuvenation depends on grants, donations and fundraising to fund its projects, hence the grouping asks for well-wishers to come in and help them undertake their operations.

The current project, the refurbishment of the open theatre, has so far received support from Nico Life Insurance, who have donated K1.4million. The company has also supported the students in the past with K1million for another project.

“After noticing the progress that has been made at the open theatre, the administration has offered to give us a hand. We have already drafted a quotation and it will be submitted to the dean and the registrar and wait for the principal’s approval,” revealed the excited Kumwembe.

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Can you post pictures of how Chanco looks nowadays. Many alumni will not believe it. During our time there were tarmac roads. Go there now. It is like a certain locality in T/A Ngongoliwa. The Sports Complex is no longer the same. Talk of the hostels, Mayo!!! I wonder if the current crop of students is able to boast about the college to their friends who are not there. Bravo Isabel and your friends. I urge the private sector to supports the efforts of this grouping. Lets help our children to have a good learning environment as it was before.

emmanuel m phiri

that’s a good initiative these students are doing . this is the development initiative that every malawi should adopt to change Malawi to better level to develop various sectors across the country. this group of sound development initiative shud train communities on how to star up this across the country.

Bernard Nyimba

How can I help? I have some paint to donate. Whats the point of contact?


The renovations should not only be structural. We need behavioural, spiritual etc renewal (or should I call it renovation?) as well. Ana a pa Chanco kuipitsa mbiri ya UNIMA.


Nkhani yabwino, zoona, Youth Week ibwerere basi. Takunyadirani nonse.

Mtondoli Jonazi
This is really wonderful. I remember there was talk of a similar initiative to raise funds around 2008-2009 thereabouts (could be earlier or later). I think it was named ‘Paint-A-Room’ or something similar. The idea was for at least the alumni to contribute money towards painting the room they had stayed it at Chanco. A lot of people supported the idea but a lot others as well shot it down even before it really took off. Peoples’ concerns were mainly accountability on the funds, especially making sure that the funds are used for the intended purpose. Fellow alumni out there:… Read more »

This girl impresses.People who live on handouts play the victim mentality and always think things cannot be done by themselves. I admire her tenacity. GOVERNMENT should also know it is pointless building state of the art institutions without having maintenance plans on them .This is quite disheartening. We should also teach in our schools especially in early child learning how to look after state facilities that will go along way.


Apa zaonekeratu kuti Youth Week Project ikuyenera kuyambanso. Ministry of Youth, would you please draft a bill on Youth Week Project that would be deliberated in parliament during the next sitting? Without Youth Week Project being reintroduced, most of the infrastructure in the schools and colleges will soon be history.

Bravo Chanco students!!! That’s the way to go!!! Keep the self-help mentality alive!!!


This is good for Chanco and Malawi. I hope Nyasa Times should also do their job to acknowledge work by ADB which is underway at Chanco (including renovations and construction of new structures). Otherwise, some people may be misinformed that all is being done by these guys. All in all, well-done guys!

Rodgers Banda

Stop killing the intelligent future leaders

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