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29 March, 2018

 

ADDRESS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MALAWI,

PROF JOHN D. KALENGA SAKA,

DURING THE SECOND 2016/17 GRADUATION CEREMONY

HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 28TH MARCH, 2018

IN THE GREAT HALL, CHANCELLOR COLLEGE, ZOMBA


1.    The Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr Justin Saidi, Representative of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology;
2.    The Chairman of the University of Malawi Council, Dr James Maida, and all Members of Council;
3.    The University Registrar, Dr Wokomaatani Malunga and Principals of the four constituent Colleges of the University;
4.    Chairpersons of all Public Universities;
5.    The Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Higher Education;
6.    Vice Chancellors and Representatives from other public and private universities;
7.    Professors, Deans, Heads of Department and all Staff of UNIMA;
8.    The Mayor, Councillor Christopher Jana, Zomba City Council;
9.    Mr. Dyson Jangia, Chief Executive Officer, Zomba City Council;
10.    Mr Emmanuel Bambe, District Commissioner, Zomba District;
11.    The Alumni Motivational Speaker, Hon Ombudsman Martha Mwangonde;
12.    The President and members of the University of Malawi Students Union;
13.    Distinguished invited Guests;
14.    Distinguished Graduands;
15.    Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, I am very delighted and honoured to stand before you and make some remarks on this great and auspicious occasion.

Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chancellor of the University of Malawi for delegating me to preside over this Congregation. It is always a great and singular honour to represent His Excellency, the Chancellor. 

Secondly, I wish also to join the Chairman in welcoming the representative of the Honouarble Minister of Education Science and Technology, the distinguished Alumnus who has delivered a motivational statement and all invited guests. Please feel free and enjoy the celebrations with the graduands, their families and all the larger University Community.

Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to share some remarks under the theme: ‘‘Growth of and Benchmarking in the University of Malawi.’’

Growth of the University
The growth achievements are:

Policy
i.    Nearly 75% operationalization of the Multiple- entry and exist Policy; the Polytechnic is leading in this aspect. The  review of various academic programmes is being aligned to this policy direction;
ii.    The new Executive of the University of Malawi Students Union will soon launch the 5-year Strategic Plan;
iii.    Gender  and ICT Policies have been approved by the Council and their operationalization is underway, and
iv.    Internationalisation, Intellectual Property Rights and Affiliation Policies are at near completion stages for consideration by Senate in this financial year.

Teaching and Learning
i.    Improvements in quality assurance systems including postgraduate and research administration- some of academic centres are reviewing the postgraduate rules and regulations to be compliant with institutional and international benchmarks;
ii.    Auburn University of the USA has provided 2 servers, installed at Chancellor College to support e-learning module development across the 4 public universities. An MOU facilitated by our parent Ministry was signed on 14 February, 2018 in Blantyre. A national team which includes our staff is fully engaged in the development of a proposal to be submitted to the USAID. This is towards increasing access and employability amongst the youth;
iii.    Rising presence of international students in 75% of the academic centres, and
v.    Introduction of new and demand driven academic programmes.

Academic Scholarship and Research 
i.    Council’s approval of Centre of Excellence on Ethics  and Governance, and now being operationalized;
ii.    Further and strengthened operationalisation of World Bank African Centre of Excellence for Public Health and Herbal Medicine at the College of Medicine. Those interested to purse postgraduate studies are encouraged to engage the Centre Director, Prof Adamson Muula. A sister centre in Ethiopia has announced invitations for programmes in Water Resources Management;
iii.    A new ACE II Project on Internet of Things involving University of Rwanda and UNIMA at Chancellor College commenced project activities;
iv.    Rising refereed publications in high impact journals and by Houses not on Beall’s list;
v.    Three academics (2 female and 1 male) being promoted to full professors; another set of candidates is being processed;
vi.    Two young academics at Chancellor College: Drs Tiwonge Manda and Chomora Mikeka the RUFORUM-NCST young scientists awards for their research and or innovations, and
vii.    Mr Mayamiko Nkoloma of the Polytechnic was the 2017 winner of the MBC Innovation Awards in the category of Science and Technology.


University-Industry Interface
i.    Her Excellency’s BEAM Trust provided equipment towards quality teaching, learning and students’ experience in music in the Department of Fine and Performing Art at Chancellor College;
ii.    FDH Bank, NICO Life and Standard Bank supporting the VC’s Scholarship and Merit Awards. Old Mutual is sponsoring Endowment Chair (Actuarial Sciences). The Standard Bank communicated two weeks ago that they will double the investment;
iii.    Affiliation of Nalikule College of Education with the University, and 
iv.    Senate Review of Nursing Programmes for Malawi College of Health Sciences.

Infrastructure Expansion and Improvements
i.    Government through The Ministry of Education of Science and Technology facilitated the development of PPP Policy for Universities to benefit from infrastructure expansion. We are delighted that on Friday, 23 March, 2018 the SEST presided over the signing of contracts with two investors, Old Mutual, and M&M Development & Infrastructure to construct Students’ Hostels in the public universities. We look forward to seeing real action in this direction in June, 2018;
ii.    Visible and attractive expansion of infrastructure at Chancellor College, College of Medicine and The Polytechnic, funded by Government and its cooperating partners. We are delighted that there are discussions to include COM and KCN in the successor phase of the Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) programme. This is most welcome and critical towards increased access to and quality of education across the University, and
iii.    Rehabilitation and maintenance works across the University through the PSIP, we appeal to all users of these facilities to take good care for the present and future generations.

Benchmarking
According to the Business Dictionary this is defined as ‘a measurement of the quality of an organization's policies, products, programmes, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers. The objectives of benchmarking are to (i) determine what and where improvements are called for, (ii) analyze how other organizations achieve their high performance levels, and (iii) use this information to improve performance.’

We wish therefore to thank His Excellency’s Government for establishing the National Council for Higher Education under the Act of Parliament No. 15 of 2011, with the primary purpose of providing accreditation and quality assurance services in higher education institutions. Through operationalisation of quality assurance systems, nearly 75% of the Colleges have been visited and evaluated such that we have University programmes at two Colleges dully accredited. Through this effort, improvement plans have been shared with us and corrective actions being made. Further, based on this and external examiners’ reports, we can seek PSIP funding for improving teaching and learning facilities including library resources and human capital development more convincingly. This is consistent with our individual and institutional compliance to the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Policy.

National benchmarking catalysed by the works of NCHE is expected to improve on our ranking in the higher education industry in the region and beyond. Ranking of universities is based on several parameters including:
i.    Research quality and productivity.
ii.    Quality of Teaching: domestic and international teaching quality assessments, student feedback, national student surveys and student-faculty ratios.
iii.    Graduate employability related to surveys of employers.
iv.    Facilities/University infrastructure such as sporting and medical facilities, number of students’ societies.
v.    Internationalization and Local Community Engagement.
vi.    Innovation contributing to economy, society and culture.
vii.    Access to scholarships and bursaries amongst the vulnerable disability access and gender balance.
viii.    Environment: Stable and uninterrupted calendars to attracting and retaining international students and completion of studies within the basic cycle for academic programmes (3/4/5/6 years).

It is not surprising that NCHE has requested us to provide annual reports which give status according to its prescribed format and all the above included. 

Under the current webometric rankings (The 2018 Ranking Web of Universities. January New Edition), we are at 89 having moved from 98.  I see that both the public including Media and the academy are very interested in the matter and questions abound in the local higher education forum. I hope we will do the needful so that we join sister universities of Nairobi, Makerere, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Dar es Salaam, Botswana and Zambia which are at 7, 11, 19, 21, 32, 52 and 60 respectively. Adherence to the Quality Assurance and Enhancement; Research and Consultancy, and Postgraduate Policies remains therefore a strategic priority to this end.

Ladies and Gentlemen
This is the second graduation ceremony for the 2016/17 academic year and we showcase our contribution to the required and rising human capital needs consistent with the National Education Sector Plan and Malawi Growth Development Strategy III. These will support in earnest the five priority sectors: Agriculture, Water and Climate Change, Education and Skills Development, Energy, Industry and Tourism, Transport and ICT Infrastructure, and Health and Population. Today we rejoice and celebrate the graduation of 611 graduands, 43.4% of whom are ladies. This brings the total to 1298 graduates, representing nearly 50% of the 2016/17 graduate output. These graduands are in various disciplines including agricultural sciences, environmental science, built environment, engineering, education, medicine, nursing and social science. We will celebrate 8 distinctions and first class honours and 144 credits or second class upper. The parading of the former set and PhD candidates allows us to stand and stretch our feet and bodies. 

Further, there are 71 higher degree (66 Masters and 5 Doctoral degrees) graduands including 27 female candidates in various disciplines. There are 29, 6, and 36 candidates from Chancellor College, College of Medicine and Bunda College of Agriculture, respectively.  We will today celebrate 2 female PhD graduands. Congratulations to the Graduands for a job well-done.

Graduands let me urge you to reflect on a set of virtues in your journey as you join the world:
(i).    Learning from success. Ensure you make good use of every success, do not dwell on failures. Remember that a few of your friends started missed the road and therefore are not here today.
(ii).    Building value. Use the qualification to create value and make a difference in the community/world. It is essential that you keep what you are.
(iii).    Following your heart. Keep and nurture your dream; reading widely and important literature such as Good to GREAT by Jim Collins will catalyze your growth and independence. 
(iv).     The higher degree graduates- demonstrate above  water and quality thinking and leadership- I expect results as obtaining in the quote by Reed Markham:
‘‘The communication style of leaders helps us distinguish great leaders from the wannabes. When facing a problem the great leader says, Let's find out, while the wannabe says that nobody knows. Great leaders communicate commitment while wannabe leaders make promises. Great leaders have the capacity to listen while wannabes can't wait for their turn to talk. Great leaders say there is a better way to do this, while wannabes say this is the way we have always done things around here. ‘’

PLEASE UTILISE the acquired knowledge and skills such as computer skills, demonstrating responsibility at work, team working, theoretical skills and the ability to acquire new knowledge required by most employers and for self-employment. Having completed Masters and PhD studies successfully, the University looks forward to your taking leadership and demonstrating high-level negotiation skills. I do hope that you will behave like Isaac Newton, who developed the concept of gravity upon simply and thoughtfully observing the fall of an apple.
It is very important therefore to know that: if you keep on learning from your successes, always striving to build the value and following your heart, your life in this world will be long, enriching, satisfying and above all rewarding. Ensure that diligence/hardwork, commitment, patriotism, integrity and professionalism characterize whatever you do. Never, ever lose your moral compass. This entails regularly engaging in self-conversation and being independent. It will be a lot easier to think entrepreneurial for personal growth!!! Further, please do not rush for quick promotions, recognition, high salary, and good benefits; these you will receive dependent on the type and quality of contribution that you will make to the Institution.

Let me now conclude by thanking 
(i).    UNIMA Council for its foresight and catalytic leadership, including high-level support to our welfare; the establishment of the Council’s Committee on Staff and Students welfare has led to a win-win relation between the partners and hence increased peace and harmony. This is most applauded;
(ii).    Parents, guardians and spouses of our graduands, for their unfailing support, without them most of the graduands would not have made it. Well done, parents, spouses and guardians;
(iii).    All partners for providing both financial and technical support towards quality and relevant education in this great University;
(iv).    The Alumni Community for coming forward to join hand with us and most of whom are fully engaged in the UNIMA Parents Association. The Motivation speeches which started last July add value to the personality of these and future graduands;
(v).    All staff for the hard work and hence our celebrating today: You have attested with pride what Nelson Mandela said: ‘‘Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do’’, and 
(vi).    Our Senior Colleague, the University Registrar and his team for a very well organized congregation, the Choir, the Band, the Media and the public ululation which is always wonderful and pleasant.


I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ATTENTION, ENJOY THE FUNCTION. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL