The University of Malawi (Unima), which in recent years has been riddled with strikes by both staff and students, says it has devised measures to curb the vice and ensure uninterrupted academic calendar.
Unima vice-chancellor Professor John Saka, speaking to journalists in Zomba on Saturday during a tree planting exercise ahead of the institution’s 50th anniversary in September, said Unima has taken a proactive approach to ensure an end to protests.
For example, he said, a student’ affairs committee has been established to discuss policy issues that can help improve the environment for the students’ community.
Similarly, Saka said, there is also a forum for staff where matters relating to their welfare are discussed.
He said: “From that set of discussions, if issues arise, we present them to the council [of Unima] as the employer to discuss and consider.
“More importantly, our commitment is that the calendar at each of the colleges should not be affected, but there must be harmony among all the players within the university.”
The vice-chancellor said during the past academic year, Unima experienced fewer strikes compared to previous years because of the dialogue platforms between management, students, lecturers and support staff.
In a separate interview, Unima Students Union (Umsu) president Ronald Mhango agreed with Saka that Unima’s current leadership has shown commitment towards improving the students’ welfare.
Said Mhango: “As a students’ body, through several meetings we have had with the vice-chancellor and his management team, we have indeed noted that there is commitment to ensuring that our welfare improves. That is one reason there were no major protests from students last year.”
In recent years, Unima’s constituent colleges have been rocked by violent protests that have resulted in indefinite closures, thereby affecting school calendars and programme delivery.
Unima has four constituent colleges—Chancellor College in Zomba, the Polytechnic in Blantyre as well as College of Medicine (CoM) and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in Lilongwe.