The University in Our Vision by President Professor Peter Mutharika (Speaking to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources at a graduation ceremony, 21 March 2018)
Good morning to you all.
Let me begin by congratulating you all. Congratulations!
Be proud of your achievement. Your success was worth the fight.
In the many years I have been a university professor, standing before young men and women like you, I have always known that it takes hardwork, discipline and resilience to earn a degree. It is not easy. I know it was a long slow march to triumph. But every road has a destination. No matter how long and winding the road may be, it will come to its destination.
But your degree is not your destination yet. It is a necessary step in the journey of life.
The ultimate goal of university education is not to earn a degree. The ultimate goal of university education is to attain the wisdom of life; a fine mind; and the ability to find solutions to questions that matter in your personal life and your society.
Therefore, it is not the degree you earn that matters. It is what you do from here that matters more. That is why in some countries, a graduation ceremony like the one we have today is called “commencement” because it is the beginning of a new chapter of your life.
I urge you to use the knowledge and skills that you have acquired to start your own businesses and create jobs for others. Strive to employ yourself, and employ others more that wishing to be employed someone. Remember – there is always the first time for doing anything.
Under our Jobs for the Youth program, we are arranging to provide loans for the skilled youths to start their own businesses. For example, some of you can go into agro-processing.
Let me also say a few words on what society expects from you as an educated person.
From today, society will always expect you to live as an educated person. You should be a person who listens attentively and critically. Learn to question, digest with evidence and to make your independent decisions. That is one characteristic of being an educated person.
We expect you to be a person who thinks and speaks clearly and reasonably. People will always expect you to think and reason before you speak. And be polite at all times – for politeness is an identity of being Malawian. Malawi is a polite society.
As an educated Malawian, we will always expect you to have strong moral principles and to stand by your convictions at all times. That is the hallmark of being a person with integrity. In addition, your country expects you to be patriotic and hardworking. These should be the principles of every Malawian.
Above all, we expect you to have a well-founded sense of purpose in life. An educated person must find the purpose of life, and live purposefully.
As a generation of youths, you must find your mission for your country. As one scholar said, Frantz Fanon said, “Each generation must discover its mission, [and] fulfil it.”
The first mission of my generation was to liberate this country from colonial oppression. That was fulfilled with independence. Our second mission was to liberate this country from one party dictatorship and its oppressors. That was fulfilled with the coming of multi-party democracy.
Now, our mission is to develop this country. And I can see it coming. I can see a developed Malawi. I have been to the mountaintop and I can see a developed Malawi.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The present mission of our generation is to make Malawi a producing and exporting country. We must stop being a predominantly consuming and importing country. For this to happen, we need to make Malawi a productive, competitive and resilient nation using our Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III.
Our first stepping stone towards making Malawi a producing and exporting country is agriculture. Our first and most urgent priority is to improve our agriculture, water development and climate change management.
The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources has a critical role to play in this agenda. This university has always endeavoured to “produce relevant graduates with entrepreneurship skills for agricultural growth, food security, wealth creation and sustainable natural resources management”. This is your mission! Pursue it!
One of the problems we have in this country is that most people think farming is not for educated people. We think farming is for those who cannot get jobs in the office. This is a completely wrong mindset.
Go to America. Go to Australia. You will find educated people with degrees taking agriculture as a profession.
Let us recognise the dignity of farming. We must promote the dignity of farming. We must change our mindset to recognise the prestige of being a farmer. We must be proud to take up farming as a profession. We don’t train farmers to be in the office. We must train farmers to be on the farm.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My Government is committed to promoting university education in all spheres. We have put in place the means to increase access to university education and improve the quality of the education you get.
Our goal is to establish more public universities and make them grow. I want every Malawian who qualifies to have a place in the university.
Therefore, we are increasing the number of public universities. We are building Mombera University and creating new universities out of University of Malawi.
At the same time, we are constructing new infrastructure in all public universities so that they can grow to accommodate more students. Our population is growing, and every university needs to grow.
For LUANAR, we are constructing new buildings that will change the outlook of the whole university. I want learners to have a good learning environment in every public university.
Finally, let me commend the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources for being innovative and exemplary. This university is recognised by the Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM) as the centre of excellence in aquaculture in the whole of Africa.
It is a mark of national pride that the whole Africa should come to Malawi to learn how to raise fish. You have proven that we can make Malawi the light of Africa.
Once again, let me congratulate the graduating students who made us gather here today. You have the best of our wishes wherever you go. God’s speed!