Malawi’s president honoured for higher education policies

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has been honoured by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) for his efforts to advance higher education, in particular in the field of agriculture.

This consortium of 129 African universities in 38 countries said it honoured Chakwera as Champion of Higher Education in Africa for his government’s efforts in promoting inclusive higher education in Malawi and in other African countries.

In his speech at a ceremony early in June in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, RUFORUM’s executive secretary, Professor Adipala Ekwamu, said the Malawian government’s education policies helped the country to show real progress in science, technology, innovation and agriculture.

Ekwamu said Malawi’s rural development is in line with RUFORUM’s goal of strengthening agricultural expertise, promoting research and technology and aiding African governments in developing policy while advocating for universities.

“Through your outstanding visionary leadership, you have supported agricultural policies towards achieving food and nutritional security,” Ekwamu said.

Expansion encouraged

Since coming into power in June 2020, Chakwera has worked on the country’s national agricultural policy, national seed policy and national multi-sector nutrition strategic policy, aiming to transform Malawi’s agriculture sector towards commercial farming.

RUFORUM has been urging Chakwera to use his position as the newly elected Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairperson to encourage other governments to expand higher education once he assumes office in August 2021.

This is another reason for the award. RUFORUM is satisfied that the Malawian government has set aside funding to complete the construction of the Mombera University in Mzimba, and for planning a new university in Mangochi.

“This is not what is happening across Africa,” Ekwamu said.

Ekwamu also praised the Malawian leader for his involvement in promoting higher education through cooperating with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the Mastercard Foundation, and the World Bank.

Lobbying for progress

Accepting the award, Chakwera said: “I am mindful of the thousands of talented young people from across Africa whose dream is to cross the bridge to higher education that connects talent to opportunities.”

One initiative he will pursue is the African Union’s (AU) Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government (C-10) Agenda 2063, a group promoting education, science and technology in Africa.

Chakwera wants the committee to promote progress with the AU-linked Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025 (CESA), the Continental Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and an African Union Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024).

“I look forward to seeing these blueprints in action, especially towards operationalising the Africa Education Fund for collaboration with the [African] Development Bank, strengthening teacher development and retention, enhancing TVET and skills development and employment, among other things,” said Chakwera.

The president’s ability to promote these projects will be strengthened through his position as SADC chairperson. The 16-country regional grouping has a protocol on education and training development, which seeks to promote a regionally integrated and harmonised education system, especially focusing on access, equity, relevance and quality of education, including higher education and research.

The protocol guides the SADC Education and Skills Development Programme which helps develop education management information systems; teacher education and development; higher education and training; technical and vocational education and training; curriculum development and quality management.