Twenty-seven Malawians have been awarded scholarships by the Institute of International Education (IIE) under their Agricultural Transformation Initiative Fellowship and Scholarship Fund (ATI FSF).
The aim of the ATI FSF is to strengthen the capacity of researchers and professionals in Malawi in high-priority fields that will help the country transform its agricultural sector by reducing dependence on tobacco exports.
A statement from IIE says the ATI FSF programme is providing 19 scholarships for master’s study and eight awards for postdoctoral research in agriculture, business, data science, economics, ecology/environment and engineering.
“As the world moves away from tobacco use, the ATI FSF seeks to support the ongoing education of Malawian citizens who are dedicated to diversifying and transforming the agricultural sector in Malawi,” says the statement.
The awardees pursuing master’s degrees under the ATI FSF Scholars program began their studies in January at higher education institutions in the United States which include Michigan State University,
Rochester Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Arkansas.
And for the postdoctoral ATI FSF Fellows, most awards are being pursued in South Africa, primarily hosted by the University of Stellenbosch.
The ATI FSF Fellows and Scholars are some of Malawi’s most accomplished and promising individuals in the areas of academia and they will be addressing how to transform Malawi’s agricultural sector through multiple disciplines.
To participate in the program, which is supported through a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, the Fellows and Scholars submitted an application and were selected through an open and competitive process by an independent committee comprising members from academia and the public and private sectors.
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is funded by annual gifts from Philip Morris International (PMI) Global Services Inc, which is one of Malawi’s biggest buyers of tobacco.
It is an independent, US nonprofit private institution committed to reducing deaths and diseases caused by smoking, whose affiliate — the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) aims to diversify tobacco-dependent economies and its work has started in Malawi.
The Fellows and Scholars are expected to play a critical role in the future of their country, as Limbani Chikafutwa — scholar at the Rochester Institute of Technology — agrees that “these skills will go a long way to impact and bring positive change to people’s lives in Malawi”.
Another peer in the cohort of Scholars, Takondwa Moyo — who is at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign — said: “I believe that agricultural transformation, like any transformation, is a result of good policy.
“Pursuing economics, particularly policy economics, will place me at the front line in helping make evidence-based policies.”
COVID-19 has required the Fellows and Scholars to start their programs virtually from Malawi but are expected to continue their physical face to face studies in August.
The IIE, a global not-for-profit that creates and implements international education programs, was established in 1919 that has seen it conducting research and providing life-changing opportunities for students and scholars worldwide.
The institution collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.
It has a network of 17 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,450 member institutions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :