IPOR advancing transformation of Malawi’s higher education

Institute of Public Opinion and Research (IPOR) has said challenges—students face when enrolling and learning in public universities and struggling to find employment thereafter—raise serious doubts about the efficacy of the higher education system in Malawi.

IPOR—specialists in surveys and social science research, advisory and consulting—says it is, therefore, implementing a five-year Transforming Higher Education Systems project, which seeks to address gaps in all those critical stages in order to have desirable and employable graduates.

Former Minister Prof Blessings Chinsinga

IPOR’s Director of Strategy and Management, Professor Blessings Chinsinga, made the sentiments on Monday in Lilongwe during a workshop for students drawn from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

Chinsinga said transforming the higher education system is important for education “is one of the critical building blocks for any country’s development”.

Gift Chimwala

“We need to ensure that whoever is qualified, gets into university. While there, they have to experience learning that is transformative. Learning that adds value to their knowledge based skills and expertise.

“When out of university, we want the job industry to be satisfied with the quality of the graduates the institutions of higher learning are producing”.

He added that—through the project—students, lecturers and employers will be engaged to have a common understanding of what needs to be done to transform the higher education system for it to serve its purpose, more especially in national development.

“We will unpack challenges affecting the three components of application and enrollment, student life and employment. We will continuously engage relevant stakeholders to be implementing some of the emerging lessons”.

Chinsinga further said there will be a synthesis of the insights gained from the project that will be pushed into the policy processes, with the aim of transforming the higher education system for it to be in sync with the development aspirations of Malawi.

Gift Chimwala, studying Veterinary Medicine at Bunda Campus of LUANAR, said the project is relevant for it brings students, lecturers and stakeholders together to deal with students challenges, more especially unemployment.

Focus, added Chimwala, should also be on accommodation, upkeep, practice and how best to apply and enroll.

According to IPOR, the purpose of Monday’s workshop was to help inform programming being implemented by Michigan State University (MSU) on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The programming is focused on improving employment opportunities and job readiness, as well as removing barriers to employment (faced by students and employers alike) in the fields of agriculture and technology.

The workshop was organized by IPOR in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame’s Pulte Institute for Global Development and is one in a series of workshops that will be conducted throughout the country with students, alumni, lecturers and private sector employers.

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