Malawi university enrolment among lowest in the world

Shocking! Malawi’s higher education enrollment is among the lowest in the world and the least in the entire Southern and Eastern African region, a 2016 World Bank study has shown.

The study reveals that Malawi’s university enrollment is at 0.4 percent, which means only 80 students per 100 000 enroll for higher education in the country.

This development has angered Chancellor College education expert Antonie Chigeda, who warns that this means ‘very few capable hands are leading the development of the nation’.

The National Council for Higher Education (Nche) has since cautioned that the economic development is ‘obviously affected’ noting that this is a result of ‘focus on basic education for too long at the expense of higher education’.

“The country now needs to promote higher education because very few school leavers are currently absorbed by our higher education institutions and university graduates are by far more productive citizens than secondary school leavers,” said Mathilda Chithila, Nche chief executive officer.

The argument, pushed by different experts from various disciplines, is that education is a fundamental factor of social mobility—the ability for a person to move from a lower social class to a higher one.

The understanding is that education equips people with necessary skills for the job market, eventually determining their social class position.

Eventually, the more educated someone is the higher the earning power he or she commands.

Evidence supports assertion

A 2010 study titled ‘Education and Employment in Malawi’ by Vincent Castel, Martha Phiri and Marco Stampini found that within regular wage employment, secondary education is associated with a 123 percent wage premium whereas university education boasts a 234 percent wage premium(relative to illiteracy).

University of Malawi (Unima) economics professor Ephraim Chirwa, and Mirriam Matita, also did a study in 2009 which attests to the latter.

The study established that secondary education improved one’s earning potential by 15.4 percent. A university education, on the other hand, improved one’s possible income by 66 percent. A primary school qualification, meanwhile, improved one’s earning potential by a measly 5.1 percent.

This, according Chigeda, a doctorate holder, underlines the reason a robust higher education is a must for any country’s development.

To increase enrollment, the study recommends the need to expand non-university institutions, further development of private sector and an emergence of distance education options, which Chigeda agrees with.

He argues that given the limitation of conventional delivery of higher education and cost implications associated with accessing higher education at conventional institutions, Malawi needs to move away from this mode of delivery to more open and distance delivery modes.

On-line learning is quite new in the country and least developed as a delivery mode, said Chigeda, Chithila, on the other hand, said the country needs to look at where it wants to be in the long-term and set priorities and align higher education to those priorities.

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  1. Avatar

    Dr Chigeda the education expert, what is the solution to this problem then? It is one thing telling us how angry you are with the situation and its another thing finding solutions to this problem.

    Most parents can’t afford to pay for their children to go into higher education and yet we are told that our universities charges the lowest fees in the whole of Africa.

    On the other hand we have a govt that is always bloke to help needy students and yet has enough billions of Kwachas to invest into FISP and other politically motivated projects not to mention the billions spent on the executive motor cades and on honorabilia paid to our village chiefs for doing nothing other than being ass holes of the ruling party.
    This is Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world despite being an independent country for over 43 years.
    This is Malawi a country of self acclaimed God fearing people, and yet a country duped one of the most corrupt countries in the whole wide world.
    This is Malawi where the president can accumulate billions of Kwachas within two terms in office despite earning less that K2 million a month. By the way, if an individual earns K2 million a month and not use even a single tambala of it, within two terms of their presidency they should be able to save K240 Million only.
    So how come that from Bakili to Bingu all of them had outrageous billions of Kwachas in foreign and local bank accounts? Well, your guess is just as good as mine, the problem is that, even educated people like you Dr Chigeda will never stand up to this obvious crime that has rendered our country poor for so many years.
    To put things into context, a student at UNIMA would need approximately K3 Million to complete their degree, so if we take Bingu’s K61 Billion and give it to UNIMA it means over 20,000 students will complete their degrees without paying a single tambala………….

  2. Avatar

    Internet access in Malawi is not at a level where online education is possible. Government needs to expand the traditional campus university education. I visited Chancellor College two weeks ago. The only new buildings in 20 years are the Department of Law classrooms and offices. This is not enough. That campus should have grown by more than four times both in number of classrooms and dormitories in 20 years. UNIMA enrollment should be 50,000.

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