Universities dared to be different, invest in research

Universities dared to be different, invest in research

Deputy Minister of Education Nancy Chaola Mdooko has dared universities to be different from secondary schools by investing in research centres to develop new discoveries and ideas that offer solutions to challenges facing African countries.

Delivering a speech at the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (Ruforum) annual general meeting in Cameroon yesterday, she said transformation of higher education systems through research-focused curriculum review that enhances agricultural and socio-economic development can help increase agricultural production and productivity, thereby ensuring food security.

Chaola-Mdooko: We have to come up with practical and progressive strategies

In a speech made available to The Nation, Chaola-Mdooko said: “We have to come up with practical and progressive strategies that will transform higher education through which agriculture and socio-economic development of the continent will be enhanced.

“For universities to offer solutions to the challenges the continent is facing, there is need to review the curriculum so that it responds to our current needs and not what we needed yesterday.”

Turning to local universities, she said the institutions should be capacitated to play a role in development through research that will add value in ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition as outlined in the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) long-term development strategy.

Commenting on the sentiments in a telephone interview yesterday, education rights activist Benedicto Kondowe described the deputy minister’s call as timely.

He said: “Local universities need to be repositioned to start offering programmes that promote agricultural production and drive the economy forward through the provision of new solutions to the emerging challenges.

“The curriculum of most of the universities is not skill-oriented and that is because they continue to offer programmes that equip one to get employed, yet we know that the job market is shrinking.”

But Kondowe conceded that most universities are constrained by funding; hence, called on the government to commit substantial funds to public universities to enable the institutions invest in innovation and research.

This year’s Ruforum is being held under the theme ‘Transforming higher education to sustainably feed and create prosperity for Africa’.

Ruforum consists of 163 universities from 40 African countries, with 12 comprising six public and another six private universities coming from  Malawi.

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