EDUCATION IN MALAWI – AN OUTSIDER INSIDE VIEW

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By Charles Leyman Kachitsa

One would say we may have a lost generation in our midst, one that has no identity with no patriotism but again no mastery of modern ways. A generation that has no care of things including infrastructure around them but are easily taken up by any rebellious rhetoric on any subject specially confirmed via social media.

There was a time the education system encouraged one vernacular national language which was unifying as it meant all raring  behind the national agenda. Nowadays the learners we are producing are those who have been told that speaking of our local languages makes one look inferior. Parents punish their children in their homes for speaking in their local mother tongue yet that’s one of our strength as a nation.

We need to revisit the national education policy. Start the journey by choosing for instance two public primary and two public secondary schools in each of the four regions that should be upgraded and become demonstration or models for the standards we want all to achieve. For a year or two government effort should be directed deliberately on the chosen schools from which a lot of lessons will be learnt for onward application on a gradual basis to the wide public schools. The objective should be to make these schools stand out and be attractive as well as efficient more than any private ones as was the case before the 1990’s. There was a time in Malawi when those going to private schools were envied their colleagues going to public schools where standards were high, now the opposite may be true. 

Parents must play a part, Community must also play a part in implementation of the upgrade and or overhaul of the education system. Each school to have a committee consisting of local community leaders and parents. Let all take responsibility and higher interest as stakeholders in the education system.

Time has also come to re-define the purpose of the education system. To do that there are several questions that will require answering such as: what are we educating our population for? Is it jobs, job creation, productivity, producing enquiring minds that is good for research? Are we training zombies or people who will analyse issues objectively? Does our education system need to promote rote learning or practical, critical minds learning? How should we take advantage of the advances in technology to be builder and not destroyer of society?

Degrees and any other qualification must not be acquired for decorum or pride. I see and hear a lot of friends who are proud to have been associated with named universities having graduated from there without showing what they are doing to impact communities around them with their qualifications. Education is redundant if one can not use it to solve society problems in whatever field studied.  We should begin to ask extra questions of those who boost of having degrees from some universities whose name they are proud of, ask them what are you doing with that education to impact your society? I am speaking of the country of my origin Malawi, if we had most of those holding degrees in particular fields exercising their knowledge whether through application or research, the country would not have any need to fear basic things like availability of food,  practical issues like town planning, simple irrigation systems, basic engineering, use of tropical medicine just to mention a few. It can be done!