MALAWI: Plans for third public university

The government has announced plans to start construction of a science and technology university in the commercial and administrative capital Lilongwe. It will be the third state-run institution of higher learning in the Southern African country.

Bids for construction of the Lilongwe University of Science and Technology closed on Saturday, according to a statement issued by a government-appointed working committee.

"The programmes of the new university will emphasise science, technology and innovation for wealth creation," the statement reads. The working committee consists of technocrats and academics and has been divided into three divisions - science and technology, planning and monitoring, and finance and administration.

It is headed by Professor Zachary Mark Kasomete and its members include University of Malawi Vice-chancellor Professor Zimani Kadzamira.

"The establishment of a university in Lilongwe is one of the major objectives of President Bingu wa Muntharika's administration on national development and on improving education in Malawi," a statement from the President and Cabinet office said.

wa Mutharika, a western-educated economist, is planning to build a university in his home area. Former President Bakili Muluzi - who earlier this year saw his bid to stand for a third presidential term blocked by a court - also plans to build a university, maintaining a tradition in which Malawian presidents have committed themselves to building private educational institutions.

The country's first president - Muluzi's predecessor Hastings Kamuzu Banda - built a high quality institution, the Kamuzu Academy, nick-named 'Eton in the Bush'.

Entry into Malawian state-run institutions of higher learning is highly competitive, especially in fields such as medicine, engineering and law because few institutions offer a university education. As a result, the majority of children from remote parts of the country do not gain access to university.