AGHCA to improve higher education using Umunthu concept

Advisor to the President on Civil Society and NGOs Mavuto Bamusi has lauded Art and Global Health Centre Africa (AGHCA) for its strides in improving higher education system in the country.

One of AGHCA workshops

Students at one of AGHCA workshops

AGHCA logo

Speaking at Umunthu connect event at Crossroads Hotel on Tuesday, Bamusi said AGHCA has demonstrated that NGO’s can also help and support government through advocacy to improve higher education system using Umunthu approach.

“Government is open to criticism for as long as we get constructive criticism. The administration of President Peter Mutharika believes in respect for human rights and this includes right to education. This is why the current government has always ensured that the education budget gets a lion’s share of our total national budget. This is also why the President Peter Mutharika administration prioritizes education for girls, education for children with disabilities and education for all minority groups,” Bamusi said.

He then added that a study which was done by Oxfam Malawi in 2016 uncovered serious lack of Umunthu in Malawi education systems.

“This is the moment to reflect deeper on Umunthu and we need to ask ourselves tough questions. We need to interrogate each other whether the lack of Umunthu in our midst is generating further or whether as people are now improving on the Umunthu ranking.

“I wish to suggest that AGHCA should research and develop what we can be called “The Umunthu Barometer”. On this Barometer, we should be able to rank selected aspects of Umunthu on a ladder of 0 to 10 where 0 is bad, 5 is good and 10 is excellent. So, let me give you an example of one category and that is “treatment of persons with albinism”. Now using the Umunthu Barometer, can you rank and score the way society has been treating people with albinism?” he quarried.

Bamusi further said that the Umunthu concept is closely related with the notion of patriotism.

“Umunthu philosophy is defined in the phrase, “I am because we are”. On the other hand, patriotism is defined as the love for one’s country and a country where “we are”. Furthermore, the phrase “we are” is in itself the foundation of democracies. “We are” implies taking collective responsibilities over collective challenges. The Umunthu philosophy therefore gives democracy its true and practical meaning, as a government by the people, to the people and for the people,” he explained.

Bamusi then appealed that there was more that people need to make Umunthu a daily reality.

“Our society has degenerated into an individualistic society. There is more disintegration than integration in our society. Children from wealthy families cannot play together with children from poor backgrounds,” he observed.

AGHCA partnered with the University of Malawi to run workshops on five campuses namely Chancellor College, Polytechnic, College of Medicine, Domasi College and College of Nursing where it worked with councils, student unions and the administration to recruit students, academic staff, Deans of students, Deans of faculties, senior administration, select youth and community leaders. In total 435 people were reached through 15 workshops.

Through the Umunthu Programme, the AGHCA launched The Umunthu Higher Education Project in 2016.

The Umunthu Connect Event shared exploits of the Umunthu Higher Education Workshops under the project.

The workshops translated Umunthu from the philosophy to a way of life by tackling real life situations in addressing the issues of discrimination, marginalization, social exclusion and stigmatization of LGBTI people and other minority groups. The interactive and creative activities were designed to elicit empathy and bring awareness of oneness as a people.

AGHCA is now building on this approach to develop the Umunthu workshops for healthcare workers.

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