Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Friday launched his dream community technical colleges, saying the programme marks a new chapter in uplifting the economy.
Thousands of people witnessed the launch of the skills development initiative, which represents the fulfilment of one of the president’s campaign promises, at the lakeside Ngara Community College in Karonga, one of the 11 training centres that opened their doors to nearly 2 800 students on January 19.
The colleges are here to stay and they will benefit all Malawians regardless of political affiliation, he said.
“This is particularly important because ever since this country attained independence, we have not had such a programme to address employment issues. As a result, 50 years after independence, Malawi is still struggling to develop and break the various cycles of endemic poverty,” Mutharika said.
Paramount Chief Kyungu and Karonga Nyungwe parliamentarian Richard Msowoya praised the initiative, saying it will help empower the youth who engage in criminal and idle behaviour due to lack of income generating skills.
Minister of Labour and Manpower Development Henry Mussa said his ministry is reinvigorated to redouble its efforts to roll out the remaining 17 colleges to unreached districts by July when the 2015/16 National Budget is expected to take effect.
The grass-root colleges will improve access to technical and entrepreneurial education, especially in rural areas where the majority of nearly 50 000 students leaving the country’s secondary schools are cut off due to lack of information.
The country has seven technical colleges, which enroll 2 000 students, mirroring a huge unmet demand for tertiary education.
“At least 1 000 aspirants tendered applications, but only 120 were selected to Ngara College,” said Karonga district commissioner Rosemary Moyo.
Mzimba parliamentarian Agness Nyalonje, who is also deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, said it is amazing “government has started doing the right thing at last”.
“We should have embraced this initiative in 1964. Most young Malawians are going astray because they have nothing to do. We cannot blame them for not choosing that which we have not given them. Looking forward, we have to focus on improving quality from early childhood education to tertiary level,” she said.