NCHE encourages development of international level Quality Management Systems in Higher Education Institutions

In a continued bid to improve quality within the Higher Education sector, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), organized a five-day Capacity building workshop on development of quality management systems based on International Organization for Standardization 9001:2015 (ISO 9001:2015.)

The training was organized with funding from the UNESCO-SHENZEN Project.

The Workshop facilitated by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), introduced and familiarized Quality Assurance Professionals from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), NCHE and the Ministry of Education with ISO 9001:2015, which is a set of criteria of requirements for meeting international standards of quality.

Speaking at the workshop, NCHE’s Quality Assurance Manager (Academic), Dr. Adamson Thengolose said the training was crucial in that it would enable improvements in quality assurance within Malawian Universities both public and private.

“The members have been taken through development of Quality Assurance Systems and the requirements for that development. The idea is to look at how we can enhance quality assurance systems in Higher Education,” he explained.

In an interview, the Chief Education Officer for Higher Education at the Ministry of Education Mrs. Ellin Rambiki, commended NCHE for taking the initiative towards the development of Quality Management Systems particularly ISO based. She also highlighted the importance of the training to the Ministry:

“When I look at this training, I look at the Ministry’s aspirations in the National Education Sector Improvement Plan for 2020-2030, where within the thematic areas, the focus is looking at issues of quality, how the Ministry can improve quality, relevance, governance as well as management. So, when I look at quality management systems, it fits well within the aspirations of the Ministry.”

Participants from HEIs were thrilled about the training stressing that this would result in their reworking and upgrading quality processes in their institutions.

Mr. Flemmings Nkhandwe, Quality Assurance Director at the University of Livingstonia, said now after being trained, it would be easier to raise their services to international standards.

“We have the quality policy, we have the resources and we have the leadership but this training is bringing in more insight on how to coordinate all these things in terms of quality. It would be difficult for us to understand such processes and to reach international standards without this training,” he said.

Professor Kayambazinthu, Acting Quality Assurance Director for Chancellor College shared the same sentiments adding that she felt that this was a timely training as most institutions have been operating without a comprehensive Quality Management System.

“We know a number of things including tools for quality assurance but putting them together the way ISO 9001 has done is very helpful. It has given us steps on how we can deal with the issue of developing a Quality Management System when we go back to the institutions. It is a very important training,” Kayambazinthu added.

This training serves as the beginning for not only the development and implementation of Quality Management Systems, but it will also allow HEIs to apply for ISO certification.

New NCHE Council ready to work

The newly appointed Council members for the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), are ready to start working following an in-house orientation meeting which recently took place in Mangochi.

The 2-day briefing meeting brought together the appointed Council members, ex-officials and management of NCHE.

The newly appointed Council members include: the Chairperson Professor Beatrice Mtimuni; Vice Chairperson Dr. Harry Gombachika, Members: Dr. Wotchiwe Kalande; Professor James Kamwachale Khomba; Dr. Christina Chihana, Professor Al Mtenje and Dr. Salule Masangwi.

The meeting centred on familiarizing the new Council with NCHE’s work as a higher education regulator in Malawi.

Topics at the briefing meeting included the NCHE Act; mandate, functions, vision, mission and core values of NCHE; registration & accreditation of universities; achievements of NCHE so far; Public Service Reforms and proposed new reform areas for NCHE; the Higher Education Overarching Bill; opening up of legal education in Malawi, among many.

Secretary for Education, Chikondano Mussa, who led the team of ex-officials for the Council, presented on the Government Policy on Higher Education.

Mr. Suse Chisale from the Department of Statutory Corporations gave a presentation on the Code of Conduct for the Council Members.

The members also divided themselves into 3 committees namely: Finance, Administration and Appointments Committee; Audit and Risk Management Committee and Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee.

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) was established by Act of Parliament No. 15 of 2011, with the mandate to regulate the higher education sector in Malawi.

NCHE goes green

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has installed a solar powered electricity generation system as its primary source of power.

The CEO Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu explained that the move was triggered by the continuous power outages the country has been experiencing over the years.

“The motive was to ensure that we have continuous power supply. As you are aware that the country especially the 2016-2018 period experienced major power outages. This made it more difficult for us to operate and that led us to seek alternative power sources,” Dr. Jimu explained.

The CEO said that some of the challenges faced by the institution during power outages were: internet connection cuts and internal phone extensions became non-functional which affected efficiency, increased downtime and was overall demoralizing for the employees.

As far as the reason why the Council chose solar power over other alternatives; the CEO said that it was because of the reduced expenditure and the environmental benefits of using such a system.

“Initially, we were using a diesel generator as a back-up power source. However, our generator produced more power than we needed and so we were spending a lot. Though the initial investment for the solar system is high, in the long run, we will basically run on free energy except for occasional maintenance costs.”

“Other than that, diesel is not environmentally friendly as it produces carbon monoxide and other harmful gasses. Solar system therefore seemed to be more viable as it is considered clean energy,” he said.

He further outlined that using solar energy will ensure that employees are working in a safe and healthy environment. He said that knowingly or unknowingly, fumes from the generator are inhaled which poses a health risk for employees.

The project is funded by the World Bank and according to the CEO, its implementation serves as an important milestone for the Council as the vision to switch to solar power has been there since 2016.

“The installation of this system required a substantial amount of investment, something we could not do at the time. Along the way, when the World Bank funded the “Skills Development Project”, we engaged the World Bank to assist us with the system and in 2019 our request was approved.”

As it stands, the Council is expectant and hopes that with this system, there will be power throughout, utility bills will reduce, work will be efficient with no downtime and its carbon footprint will minimize. The Council is hopeful that with the success of the system, other institutions will learn from NCHE and emulate its example.

HEIs offering legal education urged to follow minimum standards

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which offer or intend to offer legal education in Malawi, have been urged to follow set minimum standards and guidelines in offering the same.

The call was made by Chief Executive Officer for the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu, at a one-day workshop for the validation of minimum standards and requirements for law schools in Malawi.

The workshop held recently in Salima, was organized jointly by NCHE and the Malawi Council of Legal Education (MCLE).

Participants included those from Mzuzu University (MZUNI); the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Blantyre International University (BIU), the Catholic University (CUNIMA), Chancellor College (CHANCO), the Polytechnic, Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRDC), Staff Development Institute, NCHE and MCLE.

Discussions centred on the contents of the Standards and Guidelines including qualifications needed for one’s admittance into a legal programme; well qualified staff needed for an institution to offer legal education; academic resources needed including well stocked and up to date libraries among others.

“This is an important meeting to regulate the offering of legal education in Malawi. Legal education is a regulated profession and it needed the standards also to be validated by the stakeholders including the institutions offering legal education. The workshop will operationalize the standards,” Dr. Jimu said.

The provision of legal education in Malawi was opened to all higher education institutions following the enactment of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act, 2017.

Using the Act, the Malawi Council of Legal Education developed Minimum Standards for Universities offering legal education to follow, in order to be accredited by the National Council for Higher Education.

NCHE will accredit the institutions offering legal education, with advice from the MCLE.

NCHE for gender equality in the higher education sector

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has expressed commitment to ensure gender equality is promoted in the higher education sector in Malawi.

NCHE Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu, made the commitment at the start of a 3-day meeting in Lilongwe to discuss the Model Gender Policy for the Higher Education Sector.

The meeting drew together participants from public and private universities; NCHE; Ministry of Gender and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

NCHE is facilitating the development of the Gender Policy which will be a blueprint for all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to develop their own.

This process, which will also see NCHE developing its own Gender Policy, is being financially and technically supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“As NCHE we are committed to ensuring that there is gender equality in the sector such that we are committed to facilitating the process of developing the Model Policy and ensuring that all HEIs implement their gender policies,” Dr. Jimu said.

Dr. Jimu thanked the UNDP for supporting development of the Model Policy as well as NCHE’s own Gender Policy and acknowledged the support the Ministry of Gender and the mother Ministry of Education are giving towards development of the same.

Deputy Director for Higher Education in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Valentino Zimpita noted that while some public universities in the country have Gender Policies in place, most HEIs do not have such guidelines which in turn affects delivery of education.

“A policy is the point of reference for a strategic direction. Absence of Gender Policies in our HEIs is creating chaos as HEIs are just haphazardly handling issues of sexual harassment and gender based violence for instance, so having this document will ensure sanity in handling such matters,” he said.

Dr. Agnes Chimbiri, Portfolio Manager (Responsive Institutions and Citizen Engagement) at the UNDP Malawi Office, said gender equality promotes human development hence they are excited to see gender equality promoted in the higher education sector as this sector also plays a huge role in lifting the well-being of citizens.

It is envisaged that both the Gender Policy for NCHE and the Model Gender Policy for the Higher Education Sector will be finalized this year.

Contacts

National Council for Higher Education
Private Bag B371
Lilongwe
MALAWI

Telephone: +265 1 755 884

Fax : +265 755 886

Email: info@nche.ac.mw

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