I was doing some analysis of what is wrong in Malawi. I discovered that the University of Malawi is one of those things that is wrong in Malawi. Literally, the University is one of the cancers of society, it is a good reason why Malawi is poor today.
Before I even published the thinking, viola, they vindicated me. They approved a 2000 percent increase in fees for mature students from an average of MWK280, 000 to 1 million. Annually. The Registrar decided to spice it up with a ridiculous anticipation clause “please select many, because there might be many who will not be taking up places (sic)!”
Does the University have any survival strategy, if it can only plan fees increase without evaluating the consequences and only plan to have more so that the poor who fail are replaced? Is this a strategy that can save Malawi on serious issues of national planning and strategy?
Now you agree with me, that the University is part of cancerous tumours that is affecting our society. The poverty of mind and strategy from the highest levels of education as exposed, should send alarms to Government. We need special reforms at our University pronto. If we were in doubt, here is a start, they have no idea how to generate resources save for school fees.
The Former Vice Chancellor Emmanuel Fabiano is now a Minister of Education, I am waiting for him to address Malawians on this blatant and most ridiculous way to privatise education, just because the University could not afford to create enough space for most of us.
Mature students are those struggling in offices and places that they use the route to education as upgrading not as sort of privileged class. Their salaries are those paid in Government and many companies averaging 120,000 a month. Even if they saved the whole year, they cant raise a million for education. Our thieving bank loans are katapila.
As an institution of higher learning, it should not make decisions without empiric evidence if their proposal is suitable for the market or can be scientifically, politically, economically or socially work. The University of Malawi has no time for science to test own decisions. Its Management is pathetic and that is why it comes up with bizarre proposals that will not only bar deserving Malawians education, but will see it run down.
Now, without the school fees for mature students. Let me break down why this University is a problem in Malawi? I will compare our poor University with those in the region namely University of Zambia and the University of Zimbabwe. The two have same political, funding and almost academic departments like UNIMA. University of Dar es Salaam and Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo are very far from our standards.
UNIMA is responsible for producing our current leaders in all spheres, public and corporate sectors. Our lawyers (less than 2 percent are foreign educated), our accountants, economists, engineers, doctors, nurses, irrigation experts, agriculturalists, engineers and if you want to believe it even scientists. Of course since early 2000 we have been producing Journalists too at the Polytechnic and quasi media personnel at Chancellor College.
Look at poor quality of infrastructure in Malawi today, you have the right college you can point out. Thieving lawyers stealing clients’ money, check their CVs which college they went, cashgate masterminds came from a certain college together literally, then why we are poor when we have loud mouth economists, civil society and of course colourful politicians all graduates of this University.
But wait a minute. The University in the early 70s and mid 1980s was known for innovations. The college of Nursing developed the Kangaroo concept of premature babies among others.
I challenge you, apart from Bunda college seedlings, what has been Chancellor College or Polytechnic innovations in the past 20 years that we are using on the market. The ethanol propelled vehicle is an initiative of the Lilongwe Technical College not the engineering faculty at Poly. The Journalism department has no newspaper or radio for trained, they use illusions.
The greats of our literature Zeleza Manda, Dede Kankondo (Bunda), Jolly Max Ntaba, Steve Chimombo, Jack Mapanje and others wrote and published from the Chancellor College. The Chancol choral festivals produced quality music artists. No books are emerging from our colleges!
Today, the University has more politicians in Parliament or fighting for political appointments, because like many other parts of our society, they have been reduced to politicians. Each competing to speak louder or go home and run for political seat. PhD holders have proven worst MPs, bootlickers!
Former University dons now in political office indicate the embarrassing side of our academics. How do you explain a PhD holder reducing himself to a Government hand clapper or political party spokesperson? We used to have huge, very huge big university names and they never were lured by cheap partisan, tribal politics we see being done at the University.
We should have been producing graduates that fit into our model of economics and move us out of poverty, both poverty of mind and poverty of physical being. But they lack brains how to generate money, how to do research, they are all fantastically immersed in politics.
It is embarrassing to see University lecturers being paraded on televisions giving queer opinion just to receive handouts. We had John Chisi leaving the University without any practical research or scientific evidence that he could win, he went to run like some primary school dropout, just a joke of the nation. The intellectual deficiency for a University don to attempt things without any scientific basis should scare Malawians what these people are teaching our children.
Universities worth their names are busy minting money in research and innovation. The research portfolio for Africa alone is over USD800 million dollars annually, with Senegal, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania and Nigeria sharing the largest pot. Imagine if University of Malawi attracted only 5 million dollars in research annually, our politically oriented dons would be happy to do something different.
School fees are charged based on the economics scale of any population. The University is supposed to find solutions to the challenges of our communities. But UNIMA has failed.
Schools like Kamuzu Academy and Blantyre International University are able to attract International students because of their marketing strategy who pay in dollars and offset the local costs, the University of Malawi, save for The College of Medicine has nothing to offer to International students or partner programmes like Malawi Institute of Management to offer something competitive internationally.
No, UNIMA after taxpayers funding for 52 years, wake up. Dzuka UNIMA, fees are not the solution to your money woes. Research and Innovation is. Very simple, if you have no idea how to run a modern university, please step aside and look for innovators and real academics. Lets go and do politics away from common rooms.
Finally, are our campuses not a laughing stock when the whole Polytechnic an engineering college and hub for SDNP for years has no free wifi save for Library. Hi hi hi hi and you want to charge a million for mediocrity in 21stcentury!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :