Consistent Support for Higher Education, Science and Technology in Malawi
Through the African Development Fund’s recent envelope of financial instruments, Malawi has received US$14 million for scholarships and infrastructure for its Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) program. The assistance will boost job creation and employment in the southern African nation. It also aligns with Malawi’s development goals.
Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy III outlines education and human capital development as key priorities for the southern African nation. This focus on ‘human capacity development’ underpins the Government of Malawi’s vision to transform the nation from a predominantly agrarian, importing and consuming country to a net producer and exporter of goods and services.
Predictably, the main ingredients for actualizing this vision would be business growth and innovation through creation of viable economic value-chains and skills development in the higher education (HE) and Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training (TEVET) subsectors.
The HEST project has boosted higher school and post graduate studies, targeting students and lecturers to actualize learning and training. Forty percent of beneficiaries are women. Recent studies show even just one more year of higher education increases wages in Malawi an average of 74 percent.
This intervention and subsequent reforms in Malawi’s HE and TEVET environment have helped transform the academic and professional fortunes of Malawians and institutions across the small, landlocked country. The benefits to society at large and fortification to the education sector through ADF-funded infrastructure upgrades and grey matter development also builds much needed resilience for Malawi’s economy.
ADF financing and counterpart funds from the Government of Malawi enabled the construction of physical facilities (laboratories, ICT centers, e-libraries, workshops, classrooms) with furniture and equipment. It also covered training, scholarships, an impact evaluation and baseline study, a bridging course and the establishment of a Labour Market Information Management System.
Based on these successful engagements, the Government of Malawi recently called for greater ADF and Bank participation in its knowledge-management, transportation, macro-economic and policy reforms agenda.
Promoting the Culture of Knowledge Exchange
The overarching objectives of the ADF HEST project included improving the quality of education, promoting the culture of knowledge exchange and increasing pro-active public and private sector support for education in Malawi.
The pivotal aspects of these plans included creating a robust Labour Market Information Management System (LMIMS) to generate data through surveys, coordinated by the Ministry of Labour, academic institutions and the Ministry of Education Science and Technology. The survey results, through the Educational Informational Management System, would feed into the decision-making processes on which priority skills required by industry and private sector are determined.
Other key objectives of the project were human resource development for employability, especially for the youth; improving Malawi’s competitiveness in the global economy; and support for job creation. There was also improved access to quality education at the primary and secondary level, especially for female students.
“What made me get into quantity surveying is that I saw that there were not many females in this field and that motivated me…In my first year, I saw a memorandum…They were calling for students to sponsor, using the HEST sponsorship…Now I don’t pay school fees.”
“But without the HEST sponsorship, I don’t know how I’d source that money to cater for my education. I like the HEST program, I really do and I am very grateful that I got on this program”.
- Twambilire Mwambembe, Quantity Surveying student at the University of Malawi
A loan from the Bank for the HEST program has also supported infrastructure development.
“I am Elio Bizarro and I represent S. R. Nicholas, which is one of the oldest construction companies in Malawi. We’ve been involved in the HEST project for the last one-and-a-half to two years. We employ in our organization about 1,500 people, 99.9 percent of whom are Malawians. We constructed the building for the Mzuzu University, we’ve done two buildings in Zombi for the Chancellor College and we’ve done the building behind us for Malawi Polytechnic.”
- Elio Bizzaro, Director, S.R. Nicholas Group
“My name is Rabson Killion Mgawi and I am a lecturer here at Malawi Polytechnic in the faculty of Media and Educational Studies…I have been working as a lecturer for about 21 years now…Before the scholarship, I had been admitted at three places for a PhD program and I couldn’t go because I had no funding…now, thanks to the scholarship that I received, I did a PhD in Educational Technology…We need to improve the way we use our technology in the university, particularly to increase access to learning.”
- Dr. Rabson Killion Mgawi, lecturer, Malawi Polytechnic