President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has pledged his administration’s unwavering support towards tertiary education institutions so that they graduate into self-sustainable entities that are positioned to contribute effectively to national development.
Chakwera also stressed the need for universitiesto be more aggressive and innovative in securing partnerships with the private sector for them to achieve financial sustainability and academic independence, which are necessary feats for Malawian varsities to be developmentally relevant and globally competitive.
The President made the remarks in Mzuzu on Wednesday at the 25th Silver Jubilee and 25 Congregation of the Mzuzu University (MZUNI).
Chakwera said he was pleased to note the resilience and focus, which have earned MZUNI a recognition of a centre of academic and research excellence within a quarter of a century.
“Mzuzu University teaches us that small beginnings can turn into happy endings if there is a coordinated effort to pursue a shared vision with passion, endurance, commitment, excellence, and consistency. That is why I am committed to providing this University with the necessary financial, technical and moral support to operate, and also why I am determined to see this university propelled into its destiny of becoming a world-class centre of academic excellence,” he said.
However, President Chakwera challenged MZUNI board and management to explore more ways of self-sustenance as way of averting distractions to the learning environment.
He suggested the courting of private companies in the economic sector to intentionally and intensively invest in the schools where skilled labour force trained, stressing that partnership with the private sector is not charity, but an investment that private sector players need to make in the development of the skills necessary for the sustainability of the industries and sectors they belong to.
“For example, it is in the best interest of businesses in the health sector to invest in the schools where we train their nurses, doctors, and pharmacists. It is in the interest of legal firms in the justice sector to invest in the schools where we train their lawyers,” he said. “As a nation, we need entrepreneurial skills development for every sector in line with the pillars and enablers of Malawi 2063, but it is the responsibility of every university to engage the relevant private sector players in partnerships that will sustain its ability to produce graduates with the skills their sectors need.”
Mzuzu University was founded in 1997 and commenced its operations with one faculty which had 73 students. Currently, it boasts of six faculties and a student population of over 8000 who attend lessons via both in-class and online instructions.
It offers studies in a range of academic disciplines but has gained special reputation for its unique programs such as Fisheries, Security Studies, Renewable Energy Technologies and Geoinformatics, among others.