Apart from bringing a new face to Mzimba and its neighboring districts of Nkhata Bay, Rumphi, Karonga, and Kasungu, the university will create space for more students to attain tertiary education.
The stalling of the project during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime angered many Malawians, especially parents whose children failed to make it to public universities because of a lack of space.
Officials in the DPP administration shared resources meant for the construction of the college through, among others, employing ghost lecturers and ground workers for the yet-to-be-built institution.
But hope has been rekindled following the announcement by President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera in the National Assembly on Friday that construction of the university will start in the coming fiscal year.
“Madam Speaker, we are finally commencing the construction of the Inkosi Ya Makhosi M’mbelwa University,” he said, adding that his administration has already completed the expansion and rehabilitation of the School of Economics at the University of Malawi, including the construction of a 350-seater lecture theater and a 100-seater computer laboratory.
The government has also completed the construction of the new administration block and teaching complex at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
President Chakwera further disclosed that the rehabilitation of two campus hostels and the expansion and upgrading of Domasi College of Education has also been completed in addition to accelerating the construction of the technical education building at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS), and the administration block at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), which is expected to be completed by 2025.
“We have secured funding for the Kamuzu HighTech University Teaching Hospital, and the industrial park at MUST is at 65 percent completion. As far as increasing access to tertiary education is concerned, we have increased it from 45,809 in 2019 and 55,002 in 2021 to 65,057 in the 2022/2023 academic year, representing a 21.9 percent increase. We will continue on this trajectory to achieve our goal of increasing enrolment to 85,000 by 2030,” he said.
At primary level, President Chakwera said his government has set priorities for compulsory education. He said they are implementing various projects with billions of investments, citing support from the German Government (KfW), which has gone towards completion of the rehabilitation of water and sanitation systems at Blantyre, Lilongwe, and St. Joseph Teacher Training Colleges.
The government, added the President, and we have constructed 308 classrooms and 120 teachers’ houses in teaching practice schools.
“We have successfully constructed three fully furnished Teacher Training Colleges in Mchinji, Chikwawa, and Rumphi districts, and we have recruited 1,800 teacher trainees to date. We trained 5,070 primary school teachers, mobilized 250 million dollars under the Malawi Education Reform Programme to help in expanding access, and improving the quality and performance of the primary sub-sector. As of today, we have successfully recruited 2,200 primary school teachers and have hired 7,395 primary school auxiliary teachers, with 3,270 being hired in the 2021/2022 fiscal year and an additional 4,125 hired in the current fiscal year,” he said.
Under the Secondary Education Expansion for Development (SEED) Project, President Chakwera said 30 urban Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs) were expanded in the 2021/2022 fiscal year, and 30 new rural CDSSs were completed and opened last month.
Chakwera said his government will continue with the construction of eight rural CDSSs, which are at an average of 51.2 percent completion rate, while the construction of 51 rural CDSSs will commence in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
“We are continuing with our agenda to construct 34 Secondary Schools of Excellence, and construction works for schools in six locations will commence in the 2023/24 fiscal year,” he said.
Education rights campaigner Benedicto Kondowe commended the government for the initiatives it is undertaking to achieve education for all in Malawi.
Kondowe, who also heads the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), stated that about 10 percent of children in Malawi are currently out of school; hence, the need for government to ensure strong enforcement strategies.
According to a spokesperson in the Ministry of Education, Mphatso Nkuonera, the ministry is preparing to push for full compulsory primary education as current enrollment stands at 88 percent.