SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROFESSOR ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA AT MZUZU UNIVERSITY GRADUATION
15th JUNE 2018, BICC
This morning, I want to begin by wishing all our Moslem brothers and sisters my best wishes as they celebrate eid al fitr today. Receive the best of my goodwill from my heart.
At the same time, let me congratulate all you graduating students this morning. Congratulations!
This is your day of conquest. This is the day you begin a new chapter of your life. But the life ahead of you remains a long road. Walk the road of your life with determination, discipline and patience. If you do that, success is waiting for you.
Many of you are destined to succeed in this life. But success does not come for free. Success must always be fought for.
University education is one of the best treasures you can get. Use it well! The university is the highest place of learning. And you will always be expected to be the best. Therefore, go and be the best in whatever you choose to do!
Malawi needs to have a labour force that is both educated and skilled. This is a critical balance in any society. Knowledge and skills must always be balanced in the education system. It is not enough to teach someone to know. Real learning happens when we are able to apply the knowledge we acquire in practical situations.
Apart from knowledge and skills, we must remember to teach character. A well-educated person must have the right knowledge, useful skills and the right character. Education must teach the head, the hand and the heart – what is called the 3Hs.
On our part as Government, we will always ensure that Malawians must have easy access to good quality and relevant university education.
In order to increase access to university education, we are establishing new public universities. We have taken a phased approach in this endeavor in order to move at the pace of our resource mobilization.
It was our idea that we establish Mombera University in Mzimba – and not the idea of the noise makers. And it is our determination to build Mombera University. We have started with the road network and we are making good progress. At the moment, we are now ready to tender out the project in order to identify the contractor and start constructing.
As we build new universities, we are also building new infrastructure almost in all public universities. There are now new buildings rising at Mzuzu, LUANAR, Chancellor College and The Polytechnic. Most of the projects are being funded by local resources.
Further, we are delinking colleges of the University of Malawi for them to evolve into independent universities. We want them to grow and accommodate as many Malawians as possible. And we want them to operate on the basis of competition.
Each new university must be allowed to grow after its own models. We cannot model the new universities after the old university. As The Holy Bible says, we cannot put new wine into old caskets. If we do so, these new universities will never rise to global standard levels.
That said, we will also continue consolidating existing universities to grow and for them to provide quality education to Malawians. This consolidation process involves financing university education.
My Government will always endeavour to make a meaningful contribution to higher education. We have demonstrated this commitment in this year’s budget allocation.
However, what we pay to universities through subvention is what the public contributes to education. Money paid from Treasury is taxpayers money paid by Malawians, including those who did not get university education themselves.
Therefore, parents, guardians and students who have resources must always remember that it is primarily your responsibility to pay for your university education. The public funds are there only to support you, or to supplement you.
However, we will always make sure that we support those who cannot afford university education. That is why we established the students loan facility. No Malawian should fail to access university education because they are needy.
This year, we have increased the budget allocation for student loans from K4 billion to K8 billion – one hundred percent increase because we want more needy students to access the loans. This facility remains a loan because the state cannot assume your responsibility to pay for your education. In short, repay your loans when it matures!
Let me also ask the Ministry of Education to explore how we can involve commercial banks to participate in this loan scheme as it is done in many other countries. The private sector can always play a critical role in financing university education if we provide the right policy direction.
Universities can also play an important role in contributing to the financing of the university. What we need is to be innovative and belligerent in resource mobilization. There are always resources out there. But you need to be creative.
At this point, I want to urge our academics to continue put research at the core of the university. Universities exist to generate new knowledge and disseminate that knowledge. Thus, research generates both knowledge and resources.
Let me conclude by commending Mzuzu University for the progress taking place at your campus.
We have seen successful development of the Open Distance and E-Learning program in the university. This program is part of our Skills Development Programme because we are opening up to offer entrepreneurship skills. You can now access university education on your mobile phones and laptops while at home.
We have seen the rising state of the art complex to accommodate this innovative program. As Government, we have also initiated the construction of four satellite Open Distance and E-Learning centres for the university.
We have seen Mzuzu University offering courses in Tourism and Hospitality Management – the first of its kind in an institution of higher learning in the country. And Government is constructing a beautiful complex to house this program.
I am also pleased to see that the University is making progress in the process of constructing the new library. We expect to start construction in September this year.
We have also seen progress in our quest to establish a new campus for Mzuzu University. All these are signs of a University growing in programs and infrastructure. In short, Mzuzu University is growing in body and academic spirit. Keep it up!
Once again, to you all graduating students – congratulations. You have come from a university we are proud of!
May God Bless Malawi!
And God Bless You All!