Mutharika’s comments on University of Malawi wide of the mark

Dull, hackneyed and uninspiring is how the speech read by President Professor Peter Mutharika at the University of Malawi’s (Unima) fundraising dinner would have been described had it not included a comment that the institution’s academics should focus on research and “not waste time writing and commenting on trivial public issues”.

Mutharika,  Chancellor of Unima: Tells university lecturers not to comment on 'trivia'

Mutharika, Chancellor of Unima: Tells university lecturers not to comment on ‘trivia’

Dr Danwood Chirwa: Malawians have been fooled and believe Mutharika  is professorial material

Dr Danwood Chirwa: Malawians have been fooled and believe Mutharika is professorial material

The dinner was a major fundraising event in preparation for the University’s forthcoming golden jubilee cerebrations. It was opportunely primed for a major government policy speech on higher education. That opportunity was lost in the humdrum of formalistic presidential speeches.

To ‘encourage’ lecturers to do research and publish is the same as to encourage drivers to drive, a tailor to sew, or fisherman to fish. It is that ridiculous.

And to exhort lecturers in general terms to publish internationally is to ignore serious debates about the value of the pursuit of international publications for their own sake in a context where research on Africa by Africans remains largely inaccessible to researchers on the content, the general public and policy makers, issues of ownership and control over international publications, and the complexities involved in translating in-depth research on locally relevant issues into something that is universally intelligible.

The challenge on the continent lies in building self-sufficient scholarly communities that can engage freely at national, sub-regional and regional levels in cutting-edge research into problems that affect African peoples. It also lies in creating sufficient and rigorous research outlets where African issues and problems can be ventilated with greater specificity and at reasonable depth.

For various well-known reasons, African universities are also struggling to achieve the levels of excellence in teaching that would give their students a competitive edge on the international market.

To overcome these challenges requires one to understand the plight of universities in Africa. The history of African universities has been one of a constant tension between the State and higher education institutions, of a relationship of control and dependence that goes back to the very early days of independence.

Propelled by anti-colonialist and nationalistic agenda, independence governments rapidly established universities primarily as institutions for the production of skills needed to serve the new economies and governments. At the same time, seen as potential breeding ground for political dissent, independence governments felt obliged to control the agenda and operations of universities.

The acceptance of the structural adjustment programmes from the late 1980s as the economic dogma for developing countries saw the beginning of a period of more destructive marginalisation of higher education and research. The progressive cuts in financial support to universities led to loss of the much-needed resources by these young universities, which was not made up for by the fees accumulated from the rapid expansion of student numbers.

Thus, it is hardly surprising that most African universities have, practically speaking, been teaching universities. However, they have in large measure discharged that mandate with distinction and on top of that, engaged in notable research in a horribly hostile environment.

Unima, like many other universities in Africa, has been most adversely affected by decades of neglect and marginalisation. It is in this context that President’s comments were received and found wanting.

The President did not, even at the level of platitudes, demonstrate any awareness of the challenges that Unima and other universities face. Neither did he make a commitment to bringing higher education back on to the national agenda. What is more, the President did not demonstrate that his government has a constitutional responsibility to facilitate access to quality primary, secondary and higher education and to support research in particular.

Throughout the world, research remains largely sponsored by governments even though private organisations and companies have increasingly claimed a share. One disadvantage that private funding has over government funded-research is that it is often for specific, short-term, purposes and tends to limit the freedom of the researchers to choose what to research, with whom and how. Furthermore, private funding is something that is well established in the West and African based companies and wealthy people are yet to embrace the philanthropic culture.

To date, Malawi does not have a national research accreditation, rating and funding institution to promote, support and fund academic research in all fields of intellectual endeavour.

  • Danwood Chirwa is a Malawian professor of law and one of the legal commentators relied up by Nyasa Times and Malawi mainstream media.
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36 thoughts on “Mutharika’s comments on University of Malawi wide of the mark”

  1. Beloved says:

    The president is right u academicians have to research according to ur career and avoide commenting on issues that never help our country to develop. Kuphunzira konseko koma mowa ndi mahule basi chitani manyazi. That is why malawi is still one of the poorest in the world. Wake up mukuposedwa ndi anthu amene mukuti ndi osaphunzira ma comment awo amakhala a nzeru

  2. malema says:

    the north has sooo many so-called professors but has any of this academia made any noticeable contribution to the economic development of the north let alone Malawi as a whole???noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! why??? because an African academic is a semantic contradiction in terms!! African and academic are totally counter-indicationary state of affairs. Once an African gets a doctorate his next move is to start showing off to his dumb relatives and villagers that he is an educated man and then, start fxxxking schoolgirls and get credit drinking facilities at the local tavern,
    Research???? No African is interested in research- they just want allowances and per diems on fake advisory boards and pompous stupid directorships on Board rooms for which they have only silly existential and empty bromides to offer of no commercial or societal value!! may they all rot in hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Shonai says:

    Malawi universities are now irelvant.They are more of politicians than lecturers.Moti apeza nkhani .

  4. mustafa says:

    Some people like this South African so called Professor thinks has monopoly of thinking such that he can discredit others as not professors. Just look at the levels of poverty this country is going through and yet there is much waters that is untapped to create something worth calling that Malawi can renown of. We say we depend on agriculture on our economy and yet we relay on rain fed can we not use the university researches on growing either rice or any crop that can outsmart the whole world with that. Even if you cling to political commentary how are we to get out of the poverty we are in? wake Malawi. Most of those ill commenting the presidents remarks you know where they are coming from!!!! SHAME on them.

  5. Yes we need researches we have much water but we are hungered, coz irrigation equipment is being imported and it ends up being expensive ,why don’t we design our own solar wAter pumps so that we can at least grow and harvest three time a year. Hey my fellow electrical engineers work up and work out something, let’s fight hunger on this continent.

  6. Kenkkk says:

    Some of you spitting venom here are doing so because of your stupid bootlicking of dpp and Peter, simply angry because Peter has been exposed as a failed and embarrassing academic. You can’t swallow that. Keep on being hoodwinked, being brainwashed and keep on clapping stupidly because you think Peter is a saint. I have never seen Stupid people like you worshipping Peter.

    And you Frustrated northerner, you are just showing your typical ignorance by thinking research is not part and parcel of a lecturer or an academic. Actually contradicting yourself somehow.

    Chirwa is 100% correct on what he says about research. Funding for research is crucial and there are many sources but the govt must come up with a national coordinating body to harness all the funding and disburse it to relevant research projects. To this extent the govt is failing to take the lead.

    And you nyasatimes, you have been infiltrated by dpp thugs as many people are complaining that their comments have not been appearing. So be careful.

  7. Life says:

    Prof Danwood Chirwa is well published. Only chicken-brain-sized people can question this. All comments about his abilities are by typically people with extremely low IQ, not versed in academia and highly politico-stupified mind.
    The president is known to have been a very bad lecturer. Ratings by students indicate that he has had problems with teaching and has a smidgin aptitude on language.
    Prof. Chirwa has highlighted the things the president should have touched on. He has provided background and for anyone to dispute this, only exposes the ultimate foolishness that ever existed. There are many lecturers who have published great work but like everyone knows, Malawi in particular is not driven by evidence. Talk of research in health, there are tones of research papers published by COM, that have been disseminated in research dissemination conferences locally and internationally, but you will never here our government refer to such findings when explaining policies etc. What do you expect from governments made of President (dunderhead prof.) VP (a big headed and humongous outsized heart), Nankhumwa (form 4, 58 points MSCE) type of ministers?????

  8. chingolopiyo says:

    The country will not go anywhere with poor thinking of the so called prof Danwood chirwa. What this chirwa should know is that our country need more research. Look chirwa, do we have to wait europian countries to come and take mosquitoes and brred them in europe so that they can have samples to get malaria drug. Don’t you think a cordinated research between faculties of science Chancellor college and college of Medicine can work together to come up with a solution. Don’t you think poly can come up with machines to help in our hospitals. Look at the poor quality of our buildings and roads that should tell you that the harvest from the universities are poor. How do you expect people to believe you. Bunda college , chancellor college can come up with more drought resistance crops as well as come up with fertilizer that we can make and poly to design the machine? Do you know that the degree from Malawi is not valued in europe because it comes from a university that is not on the top. Do you think with all strikes at the universities Malawi can produce best crops. Can you rate a malawian degree? Europe has developed because lectures are busy with research, discovering new things and this days of technology, they are advancing, yet you are advancing in politics.

  9. Mbanangwa says:

    Some comments like ’21’ will never differentiate wisdom from intelligence. Anything critical about what is true about the president has to be defended. Kikikikiki.

  10. Eye witness says:

    Stupid chirwa. What is your problem? Are you the lecture in malawi? Why is it that lectures from luanar, medicine, poly quite on this issue? You think we dont that universities are heavily funded by organisations like adb, world bank and many more so much so that funds are mostly not fully utilised? Your barking is just disturbing our ears and eyes and i think education is not doing you any good. If you want politics just join them but avoid doing it at the pretex of being a lecture. Find somewhere else to offload your frustrations otherwise stop wasting time commenting on tivia matters

  11. Pulofesa Daniwudu Lake Chirwa says:

    Ndine chitsiru chaku kepi town fighting APM and I hate him.

  12. Marley says:

    Dull article

  13. Namandwa 3 says:

    Peter bwampini.mathanyula is a proffessor why did he run to go for a lower position of an.impoverished nation and start milking the thin cow, in the first world where he was working no professor would go for a political seat. And by birth apm bwampini is not a leader at all. He is a good at failing any way good for a failed state as well.

  14. nachisale says:

    This article is typical of the arrogance of UNIMA lecturers thinking they know everything but you don’t! The article should have read ‘Mutharika’s comments on UNIMA wide OFF the mark,’. Kuzolowera self-appointed commentators. I agree UNIMA produces doctors, nurses, engineers, mwawamvako akuchita comment? AYI, but the usual self-seeking intellectuals danderheads.

  15. Nyirongo Batwell says:

    The hostile and opinionated piece from Dawood Chirwa again. By way it was interesting to get comments from Kamchedzera, danwood chirwa, Kanyongolo and sunduzwayo madise. They are all lawyers from UNIMA. We didnt hear any lecturer from COllege of Medicine, Poly, KCN etc. Probably they were busy with real issues. Not these Danwood chirwa who have a personal hatred against APM and have an axe to grind just like Stanley Onjezani Kenani. For them all university lecturers are wise and intelligent. I agree with Justin Dzonzi who advised not to be egg shelled. Kumamvako chizuzulo cha anzanu. Ma lecturers ukubakirawo amangokhalira kumwa mowa ku ma commonroom and vomiting opinionated comments devoid of analysis in newspapers and radios. Nothing more. Kuteroko Danwood wayambitsa column just to target one person, APM. Shame on you.

  16. kakha erutu says:

    For the first time in 82 years I have been in circulation on this God given piece of land called Malawi, the ‘Frustrated Northerner’ is the second sensible ntumbuka I have come across. Bwana mwalankhula bwino. Mutakwana 5 oganiza ngati inu ndiye kuti mpoto can be a livable place.

    1. kenkkk says:

      Frustrated northerner is not tumbuka. I can tell from what he is saying and writing.

  17. Elias says:

    people lets not kill the messanger here. Professor Danwood is right. Let us scrutinize national budgets for the past 20 yrs or so. When did our government priotise funding to National Universities and in particular towards research?

    You dont just wake up early in the morning and do research. It needs funding.

    All along our national budget is full of expenditures no investimate, just look at the current budget Goodall presented how much has been allocated to higher learning (universities)? And do you expect a Universit to do research with such meagre resources?

    Critisize Danwood Chirwa’s arguements not his personality. Wachewa munasuzgo

  18. nachisale says:

    Malawi lecturers are too arrogant and pompous but intellectually they are dull. That is why the most loud mouthed ones like you have flooded newpapapers commenting on trivia issues just to get a name. Listen to advice from the president, research and publish musamatinyase ndi ma opinion opasawo.

  19. BigMan says:

    This is exactly what the president was talking about, half cooked Malawian lecturers obsessed with barking, barking, barking and barking some more in the media……..for nothing! Danwood Chirwa, you are an empty tin.

  20. Alex Likoswe says:

    In my view, I thought that the president being a man from academic circle , he will have a soft spot on development and promotion of the UNI. By now, the budget of UNIMA would have increased, Government would have started ,sponsorship of students to Catholic and Livingstonia universities would have started, and above all improvement of the infrastructure and well being of UNIMAwould have been his agenda number one

  21. Yona says:

    Malawi Gvt has failed to engage or task the university in research matters. Rsearch is the work of Gvt through academic institutions. Looking at how this isaue came about I doubt whether president rely understand research…how many raearch initiatives did he facilitate when he was the minister of education?

  22. Ma student says:

    So research without resources za ziii

  23. Ba chatola says:

    Kudos Danwood. I was frustrated that of numerous challenges that our prof would have talked about he choose to tell the lectures not to comment on public issues but concentrate on “research” which is in fact what they are employed to do. I expected him to say the government has channeled the funds to assist unima to venture into research. As of now these guys are doing research but as consultants a development which doesn’t give them freedom as argued by Chirwa. So I bet mr president should bring forward a fund for research and see how these acamedics would perform. Research is not cheap after all.

  24. arkmm says:

    iwe danwood, mapazi ako. cholinga ukufuna kutukwanitsanso atumbuka anzako?? inu, why do people exaggerate trivia?? is it wrong for apm to tell u morons to do your job, research included?? why are yu running away from it?? if all Malawians will not agree with what apm said, I will be the only one to agree. unima lecturers are just too lazy to say the least. I don’t regret saying it. aren’t you people ashamed hearing small “children” inventing technology that help the nation?? aren’t u dead wood danwood not ashamed hearing that there’s a small inedut boy in mzimba who invented technology that supplies electricity to his whole village?? aren’t you ashamed that one boy ku mulanje set up his own radio station for his community?? who of you moron lecturers can do that??? aren’t you people ashamed?? That is why I owez believe that these so called political analysts are purely what they are, politicians and most of them are either frustrated tumbukas and pp sympathisers. iwe danwood, mapwaala ako ndithu mxxi

  25. Bwampini wa APM says:

    Frustrated Northerner, lecturing includes teaching, research and outreach activities. It was right for the Chancellor to encourage research but did not do well on gagging lecturers from commenting on public issues no matter how trivial they may look

  26. ujeni says:

    Danwood has, explained everything clear and succint. Now let the dundderhead bang their heads in confusion and start insulting the intellectual. Malawi is indeed full of stupid people.

    Now start commenting dundderheads.

  27. Academic says:

    Frustrated Northerner, a simple task would yield the answers you seek. Simply search on google scholar ‘danwood chirwa’ and check out what comes up. Be sure to look at as many entries you can.

  28. Sapitwa says:

    This Author has a tendency of degrading APM and looses the intent of the subject on what he comments everytime he comments. He happens to have his heart over Malawi than where he Lectures in Cape Town.
    My questions to you Professor, what research did you do that has helped Malawi in your career? What research have you done for South Africa where you work to help them? If none, then don’t waste our time with your crap.
    I can tell you that we have had Malawi professors who have researched and became well renowned with their work that helped countries in which they worked.
    One a Professor of Economics at one time in Botswana Professor and one a Professor in Agriculture at Bunda college during Kamuzu era. These are the sort of Professors we need most especially in the third world countries like ours.

  29. Achimidzimidzi says:

    By the way, how much was the budget for research? The lecturers should account for any monies wasted on trivia.

    Otherwise, it’s unfair comment in the absence of funding.

  30. Pichi says:

    Kusowa funding ndiye ulesiwo? If Malawian professors were innovative enough they can get funding for research. There is a lot of money in research that answers the needs of people, I have a feeling PM has touched on a raw nerve that is why there is all these reactions. Inu ma professors and a Army ku Malawi kuno mumakhala ngati ma untouchables. Noo you should do your part osamangophunsitsa zama buku, We are paying high salaries to you koma ma returns akuchepera kaba.

  31. mfumusinyasa says:

    Mtumbuka sangamudziwe nalimata iwe mulakho wachabe chade udzophoza ngati mtumbuka. Mbuzi

  32. Viva says:

    Danwood…its celebrations not cerebrations!

  33. Wa-Makala says:

    I agree with Danwood 100%. The Malawi leader is clearly uninspiring to so many sections of the Malawi society. His brother was even much better, one would walk away with something sensible especially during the first term. I ask myself whether APM has any sensible speech writers.

  34. Frustrated Northerner says:

    It is pipo like you Danwood our good president was talking about! Here you are again kukoka nkhani ya trivia!

    It is not true that telling lecturers to do research is the same as telling a driver to drive. If you had said telling lecturers to lecture bwenzi nditakuvomereza.

    Ukunena zambirimbiri about hostile environments, lack of sponsorship et all to justify the laziness of Malawian lecturers? What a crying shame!

    Ngati pali munthu watitopetsa ndi ma opinion ako oduka mutu mmanyuzipepamu ndiye ndiwe! Kodi anakakufukula ndi ndani kuti kuti udzibwebweta zilizonse zochitika pa flames.

    Kodi ndipo timalawyer tapanyasaland mumaziwona ngati anzeru bwanji? Sukulu yache yodalira kuloweza yomweyo? Kuli anzanu anzeru kunja kuno akutukula dziko osati zanuzo. Talk about doctors, engineers, peasant farmers!

    Ine ndikumva chisoni kwambiri ndi anthu oduka mutu ngati inu. Mumatitukwanitsa atumbukafe kwabasi.

    Pangani publish zanzeru mutchuke internationaly! Izi zoyankhula ndowe pa Nyasatimes, Nation kapena Daily times ndiye trivia ikunenedwayo!

    Nalimata wachabechabe! Mxiii!

  35. Chamba says:

    Despite these comments one also has to interrogate academics in malawi. Many are not in engaged in research . Research is not a priority for most academics and how does one expect mutharika emphasize it. Mutharika is simply behaving in the same way as most academics. I have had a chance to read some masters thesis from malawi and it is shocking to see the quality of thesis that is being used to grant masters degrees.

    One thing I agree with you is that Malawi universities have no resources to support research and this mutharika shouldmhave acknowledged and announced a commitment to address.

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