President Arthur Peter Mutharika on Thursday officially launched the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) at its Bunda campus in Lilongwe district, with an assurance of his government’s commitment to ensure that the institution realizes its dream of becoming a world class university.
Formerly Bunda College of Agriculture under the University of Malawi since 1965, LUANAR came into being after a directive by late President Bingu Wa Mutharika on May 24 2010 to have the institution as a university on its own right.
“The late President shared his vision to establish six more state funded universities,” said Mutharika adding the university was established by an Act of Parliament on July 1, 2011 but operationalized in 2012.
He said government will ensure that the problems currently being faced by LUANAR are alleviated by among other things engaging the private sector to assist in infrastructural development such as construction of hostels and lecture rooms among others.
“Agriculture being the engine for the country’s economic development, government acknowledges the important role that LUANAR plays to the nation hence it will continue offering support,” he said adding he was impressed with what LUANAR is doing so far.
He said it is encouraging to note that since the integration of the Bunda College of Agriculture and the Natural Resources College, the two institutions are cooperating and complimenting each other with increased intake of students.
“I am pleased to note that the Integration of the Natural Resources College into LUANAR has been achieved. I am reliably informed that the student population at LUANAR has more than doubled from 1,802 in 2011, to 3,500 in 2014.
“I am also pleased to hear that this number will increase further with the introduction of Off-Campus and Open and Distance Learning Programs. I want to assure you that my Government is committed to achieving this and, that is why through the World Bank, the Government is providing funding to the tune of US$8 million to roll out the Open and Distance Learning Programme,” he said.
From an intake of 350 students per year in 2008, LUANAR had an intake of 1,500 students last year according to Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Emmanuel Fabiano.
Fabiano who described the increase in student intake as commendable, said LUANAR has also established two satellite campuses in Lilongwe City and other satellite campuses in Blantyre and Mzuzu cities will soon be established as one way of increasing access to higher education.
LUANAR Vice Chancellor, Professor George Kanyama Phiri thanked government for funding the construction of an administration complex and a Teaching complex which are currently at roofing stage at the Bunda campus.
He said the Norwegian government and Press Trust have each funded construction of two 60 bed hostels for females which enabled 42 percent of female students to be staying on campus.
According to Kanyama, LUANAR is also running regional PHD programmes through a consortium of 42 universities in Africa.–Reporting by Pauline KaudeFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :