Chancellor College holds academic freedom symposium

The Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU) has organised a two-day symposium on academic freedom whose aim is to create an open forum on the challenging relationship between development, academic freedom, governance and national security.

The symposium will take place at Chancellor College campus (the Great Hall) next Monday and Tuesday (June 25th and 26th respectively) will be opened by President Joyce Banda in the Great Hall from 10am.

According to a programme released by the organizing committee, a number of activities have been lined up to entertain the participants during the two day event.

Among the activities are an academic freedom march which will start from the college’s main car park to Great Hall, a guest of honour procession, unveiling of an academic freedom banner and a ceremony to accord special recognition to representatives of those who were outstanding in their solidarity with the academics.

A lecturer hold academic freedom flag

A documentary on the impasse will also be presented together with songs to be provided by the Academic Freedom Choir and poetry.

“The symposium also aims at sharing experiences related to popular protest movements and challenges of national security in transitional societies and debate advocacy strategies for popular protest against a background of national security concerns and other developmental challenges,” Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, said in a statement.

The objectives of the symposium are to facilitate the sharing of experiential and other forms of knowledge on the protection of academic freedom as a right under threat, document the struggle for academic freedom and popular resistance in Malawi, commemorate the 250 days of sustained academic freedom struggle and increase and
consolidate gains on academic freedom.

Participants at the event will include international development agencies, state institutions, academic institutions, civil society organisations, religious bodies, and the private sector.

A number of papers will also be presented by various members of the academia on broad topics such as the nature and role of academic freedom, why and when the state and academia clash and strategies for and against academic freedom.

Last year, CCASU and other concerned academic members of staff led a resistance in defence of academic freedom in Malawi that lasted eight months.

That struggle did not just epitomise the need to stand steadfast to protect academic freedom for quality education, but also animatedMalawians and those in solidarity with them to resist tyranny and advance the respect, protection, and progressive realization of human rights partly through good governance, democratic accountability, and democratic space.

“This partly showed that there is a need to explore the relationship between academic freedom, on one hand, and good governance, development, and national security, on the other,” he said.

The experience further underlined the need to share knowledge and strategies to consolidate gains on the fight for academic freedom and strengthen vigilance against possible threats to academic freedom and other human rights, added Professor Chijere Chirwa.

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