Higher education on the move

On January 6 2015, the University of Malawi (Unima) held its second graduation within the 2014/2015 academic year. A total of 855 individuals were awarded certificates, diploma and degrees, including one individual who was awarded a doctorate degree. These numbers of individuals graduating is a huge increase from what used to be Unima graduations.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, there could be one graduation and only about 500 students would be graduating. The numbers have now doubled if not trebled. If one considers that there are other public universities also enrolling students, we can only recognise that the country is now moving in the right direction.

I will recognise some of those who graduated. First is the Attorney-General Kalekeni  Kaphale, who graduated as a  Master of Commercial Law with distinction. I found his graduation interesting. First, what if the AG passed through supplementary examinations? An individual who is good in class may not be good at the workplace. So, some may have argued that a third class AG is no cause for worry. However, if this was to have occurred, it would still have raised doubts what sort of AG we had. What I want to say is that I was heartened to observe that the AG was made for the book.

The second thing I found interesting is that chairperson of the Unima Council, Professor Jack Wirima, reassured the public that the his institution would continue to select its students and not the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) as some thought.

The issue was confused when NCHE itself advertised and collected application fees for all students who were applying for entry into public universities. Under such an experience, the public was fairly misled to think NCHE had now taken over. I am not sure what the AG, who should know what the laws governing the public universities in this country would have thought if Wirima had said: “From now on, selection to Unima will be done by NCHE.”

One option was for Kaphale to collect his degree and tear it up in protest, doubting what sort of university he had graduated from which did not know its place in society. It would have been untoward for him to collect a Masters degree from a university which did not know what it was doing. Luckily, such has not occurred. The AG has a degree from a reputable university.

There was (at this graduation) some ululation on the announcement that the University Entrance Examinations (UEE) was a thing of the past.  Good or bad? Time will tell.

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