NCHE CEO encourages young people on World Youth Skills Day

Every year 15th July is a special day for the youth who are invited to join the global community in commemorating the World Youth Skills Day.  The day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in November 2014. The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) joins the youth of Malawi in commemorating this day as it attaches great value to skills development for and among the youth.  

Skills matter for the youth

The Youth make up over 40 percent of Malawi’s population, according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census. Therefore, the youth represent not just the future but also the critical resource if developed and nurtured appropriately in line with skills development needs and priorities. Skills development targeting the youth is also a necessary condition for harnessing and redirecting the contribution of the youth to national development.

The reality is the Youth need skills to counter the challenges of high unemployment and dependency ratios which are some of the situations affecting their transition to adulthood. The youth need meaningful jobs and self-employment avenues to realize their dreams of a meaningful and prosperous future.  Developing in the Youth the love for education and training focusing on employable skills and entrepreneurship in priority areas will indeed have transformative effects on the life and futures of the Youth. Less skilled Youth represent a lost opportunity as they are unprepared for work as employees or self-employed or entrepreneurs.

NCHE’s stand on skills development for the youth

On this auspicious day, the question is what is the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) doing for the youth of Malawi, especially as we are commemorating the World Youth Skills Day? The mandate of NCHE is to regulate the higher education sector in Malawi by setting standards, registering private institutions and accrediting both public and private institutions and their programmes. Setting standards and ensuring that all the players in the higher education sector are operating within acceptable parameters is a means to ensuring that the youth of Malawi access quality higher education and relevant skills.

NCHE contributes indirectly to increasing access to higher education through harmonisation of selection of students to public universities and the provision of more space through private universities it registers or accredits in line with the National Council for Higher Education Act. NCHE’s mission is to champion accessible, relevant, quality higher education for all deserving Malawians, the majority being the Youth. Hence, NCHE’s services are pro-youth and pro-skills development among the youth.

The mission of NCHE complements national and international commitments such as target number three (3) of goal number four (4) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The target is about ensuring access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education including university. Therefore, this year’s theme for the World Youth Skills Day: “Youth Skills for Work and Life in the Post -2015 Agenda,” is very much in sync with NCHE’s mission.

Besides registering and accrediting programmes offered by higher education institutions (HEIs), NCHE has been coordinating the Skills Development Project (SDP), a Government of Malawi project implemented with financial support from World Bank. The project seeks to improve education facilities and learning environments thereby help the country increase capacity to equip young people with market relevant skills needed for jobs in high-priority sectors. The priority areas include engineering, natural resources extraction, agriculture, construction, training of science teachers, tourism and hospitality. As the project strives to increase market relevance and results orientation of supported skills development institutions in the priority areas, it is an answer to the needs of the youth for the much needed skills and opportunities. It is also a direct response to the commitment of the Government of Malawi to improve access, equity and quality of tertiary education as provided for in the National Education Sector Plan (NESP).

Benefits of the Skills Development Project

The skills development project (SDP) is being implemented in 4 public universities namely Chancellor College (CHANCO), the Polytechnic, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Mzuzu University (MZUNI) and the Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA). To date, through the project, there have been at least 12,120 cumulative direct project beneficiaries, both male and female, enrolled into the participating institutions (PIs), and 6,500 of these in TEVET colleges. New programmes have been developed across the five PIs and staff development and continuous professional development promoted to a level whereby the PIs will be responsive to current and future skills needs of the youth.  Another component under the project is construction of modern infrastructure which will facilitate achievement of the need to increase access among the youth to tertiary education offered by LUANAR, Polytechnic, CHANCO and MZUNI.  Under this component, over 70 percent works have been completed as a whole with individual achievements ranging from 60% to 92% by June 2019. There will be a state of the art Tourism and Hospitality Centre at MZUNI apart from ODEL satellite centres in Lilongwe, Mulanje, Karonga and Balaka; satellite centres for LUANAR in Lilongwe city and an ODEL Hub on campus; laboratory and lecture theaters for the Polytechnic in Blantyre and CHANCO in Zomba among others.

Developing viable skills for the youth requires partnerships. NCHE recognizes the World Bank as a true partner in the development of a skilled youth in Malawi. World Bank has supported the Skills Development Project, which has enable the Government of Malawi to address the space and equipment needs in the PIs in response to the specific skills gaps and needs amongst the youth of Malawi. Many youth of Malawi are already using the facilities provided under the project and many more will equally benefit in the years ahead.

Management and staff of the five PIs have demonstrated unparalleled commitment to the youth of Malawi by ensuring the success of the project. NCHE Council, Management and Staff have worked hard to ensure that the project indeed bears fruit and the Youth of Malawi will stand to benefit over several generations to come.

NCHE’s commitment towards the Youth

The Council, Management and staff of NCHE will continue to serve the Youth of Malawi by ensuring that they have access to quality and relevant higher education. NCHE will continue working diligently to ensure the Youth attain higher education training and qualifications that are comparable and of equivalent merit to qualifications offered by accredited higher education institutions internationally. NCHE encourages the Youth to derive value and support efforts that serve to add value and secure their futures through quality education and skills development. Efforts like regular monitoring and evaluation of education institutions and sanctions for nonconformance, benefit the youth, their families, community and the country at large.

Memorable World Youth Skills Day!

Private higher education institutions urged to follow NCHE’s lead in provision of quality higher education

Private higher education institutions in the country have been urged to follow standards and regulations set by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) as they do their part in offering higher education to Malawians.

The encouragement comes from Vice Chancellor of the Pentecostal Life University (PLU) Professor David Kamchacha, whose institution was accredited by NCHE in August 2017.

Professor Kamchacha expressed excitement at the accreditation status the university is enjoying, noting that although the process is rigorous, it is necessary as now they can comfortably stand as one of the approved institutions in the country offering quality higher education.

“As an institution we are very excited considering the importance of accreditation. We appreciate NCHE’s mandate. As a higher education institution we are there to contribute to the development of Malawi vis a vis quality education,” Professor Kamchacha said.

Accreditation is the process or act of recognising that a higher education institution, or a programme offered by such an institution, meets all formal requirements of academic excellence in terms of the physical, human, financial, teaching and learning resources; management and operational procedures and an acceptable standard of academic life focusing on teaching, research, community service and expert service in line with Section 28 of the NCHE Act.

“Government realized that the private sector can complement efforts to increase access to tertiary education and we appreciate NCHE’s work. NCHE is important and a necessary evil. It is necessary because it is there to guide higher education institutions to follow approved standards so that at the end of the day we produce industry ready graduates who have acquired quality education,” added Professor Kamchacha.

The PLU Vice Chancellor noted that although the accreditation process is rigorous, it has helped the institution to identify their strong areas so they can build on those and grey areas which they need to revisit. 

“We will not relax; we will not relent. The assessment of our institution by NCHE has challenged us on how to do better to maintain our strongest areas and work on the grey areas. We submitted our improvement plan to NCHE for approval and we have put it in motion so we can improve and do even better”, he said.

PLU Executive Dean Prince Ngwira agreed with the Vice Chancellor acknowledging the important role of NCHE saying as a country we need standards in the higher education sector to be maintained, urging other Universities especially private ones to embrace the role of NCHE.

“NCHE’s role is to bring sanity to the industry. NCHE is the watchdog that is necessary to ensure students graduating from Malawi Universities both public and private are recognized both locally and internationally,” he said.

One of the students Moses Nhlane, studying for a Bachelors Degree in Community Development, expressed optimism that he will be welcomed by the industry once he graduates from PLU.

“I’m happy that PLU is accredited because prior to this even for us to get internships it was really hard as employees were questioning our credibility.  I hope it will be easier now to get internships and even actual jobs thanks to this accreditation,” he said.

PLU Registrar Dr. Owen Luhanga also noted the importance of higher learning institutions ensuring quality at all stages saying this plays a crucial part in the production of quality graduates from the University.

“You need to start with recruitment of qualified and efficient staff, then you go to the programmes being offered and then you should as well emphasize on integrity of the staff members as well ensure adherence to ethics. There is also need to ensure monitoring and evaluation,” he said.

However, Dr. Luhanga noted that while they appreciate the role of NCHE in promotion of high standards of education in private institutions, they are facing a number of challenges as a private University.

These challenges include inadequate funding since at the same time they need a return on their investment. Resources are required for books, computers, and payment of academic and non-academic staff as well among other challenges.

“Currently, we are in these rented premises but we have already acquired our own land to build our own purposely built University campus, we struggle for space for students, staff. We hope soon we will have our own buildings”, said Dr. Luhanga.

Another challenge Dr. Luhanga spoke about is clearing the general public’s perception that a University is only that which is public saying private Universities are good just the same.

Chief Executive Officer for NCHE Dr. Ignasio Jimu, said there is no conflict between increasing access; inclusiveness and quality education, urging all higher education institutions to be open and accountable to the students and the public, more also about the credibility of qualifications they offer.

Currently, there are 18 higher education institutions, both public and private which are accredited by NCHE in the country.

Professional regulatory bodies ready to collaborate with NCHE in promoting quality higher education in Malawi

Professional regulatory bodies in the country have commended steps that the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has taken to collaborate with them in the promotion of quality higher education in Malawi.

Noting that higher education has two parts, academic and professional, representatives from some professional regulatory bodies in Malawi said it is imperative that the two sides work together to promote quality.

Speaking at a consultative meeting for the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework organized by NCHE for professional regulatory bodies in Mangochi recently, acting Registrar of the Medical Council of Malawi Mr. Richard Ndovie noted that collaboration is important in provision of quality education.

“With regard to Medical Council in specific we want not to be duplicating the job NCHE does, we want to be doing things systematically. When they are inspecting or accrediting programmes we will be working with NCHE, in fact we involve NCHE already in our committee when we are vetting curriculums so our working relationship is quite ok with NCHE,” he said.

Mr. Ndovie noted that working together will also bring sanity to the sector.

“There will be sanity because there will be no place to hide for those institutions which run without being licenced or accredited because as medical council we know what we are looking for, nobody can just start offering a medical programme anywhere or a health programme and then if it’s not us then NCHE will be there and we will be sharing information to say are you aware of this institution operating without approval and vice versa and in the process we will be bringing sanity,” said Ndovie.

Director for the Council of Legal Education Bruno Kalemba noted that the coming in of NCHE has fundamentally changed the landscape in terms of accreditation in that whereas before NCHE most of the professional bodies only had to make reference to their parent ministries, now we have a centralized institution like NCHE to carry out that function.

“It is only proper that we should all be on all fours as we are moving forward in this process of accreditation so this meeting has really helped us to come up with a foundation from which we can build how relationships between NCHE and the professional regulatory bodies are going to be,” he said.

He reiterated that such a relationship between NCHE and professional regulatory bodies will in the long run standardize the process of accrediting higher education institutions and the programmes they offer.

“What is going to happen is that as Council of Legal Education we are mainly concerned with the law programmes while NCHE looks at the bigger picture of the institutions that offer those programmes.

“So our roles are more complimentary. We are not on opposing sides but we are on the same side with complimentary roles and this meeting will help us come up with processes that are going to streamline such roles so that we do not put undue pressure on the providers so that the providers know from the word go who does what in the process of accreditation.” said Kalemba.

Council of Legal Education controls, supervises and manages legal education in the country. Any qualification has to be approved and licenced by Council of Legal Education before it is recognized as such.

Apart from the Medical Council of Malawi and Council of Legal Education, other professional regulatory bodies present at the meeting were the Nurses Council of Malawi; Malawi Accountants Board; Institute of Certified Accounts in Malawi; Bankers Association of Malawi; Malawi Institute of Procurement and Supply; Board of Architects and Quantity Surveyors; Malawi Institute of Architects;

After meeting with the professional regulatory bodies, representatives from both public and private higher education institutions joined in on the discussions.

Speaking at the meeting, NCHE Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ignasio Jimu reiterated the importance of all players in the higher education sector working together to promote quality.

“We recognize that many countries have developed qualification frameworks and there is a steady progress towards regional and continental integration.  This is an important facet given that the discourse on qualifications framework is further linked to the question of ensuring appropriate skill levels for economic regeneration, growth and transformation,” Dr. Jimu said.

Dr. Jimu noted that the worthiness of our qualifications and the regulatory regime itself are in need of enhancing therefore as a country we cannot stop reflecting on the need for robust internal and external quality assurance processes hence the requirement that higher education institutions should endevour to set up quality assurance units.

NCHE is the regulator for the higher education sector in Malawi as mandated by Act of parliament No. 15 of 2011.

NCHE committed to ensuring inclusive higher education in Malawi

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) says it is committed to ensuring that there is inclusive higher education in Malawi.

NCHE Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ignasio Jimu made the remarks recently in Mponela, Dowa, when opening a stakeholders meeting on inclusive education.

Dr. Jimu said NCHE’s Strategic Plan (2015 -2020) has a number of activities to promote wider access to higher education, including ensuring that higher education in Malawi is inclusive.

Some of the activities according to Dr. Jimu, include to ensure that facilities provided in higher education institutions allow access for learners of different needs; ensure adequate provision of teaching and learning resources matching with requirements of learners with special needs; ensure mainstreaming of inclusive education in the higher education curriculum; ensure training of lecturers in inclusive education and ensure development of inclusive education policy in higher education.

NCHE also is also involved in ensuring inclusive education through its facilitation of the selection of students into public higher education institutions.

“One of the functions of the Council is to harmonise the selection of students to public universities. Serious discussions and interventions have ensued to increase access and improve on the numbers of those with various impediments accessing public higher education.

“Beyond admission, NCHE is also keen to ensure that infrastructure in all higher education institutions provides for access to persons with mobility and other challenges. We recognise increasing access, and inclusive access in particular, is a right that should not be abrogated,” noted Dr. Jimu.

The meeting was aimed at renewing stakeholders’ focus in matters of inclusive education with the anticipation that it would unravel the current situation of inclusive education in higher education, make proposals on how best NCHE and all key stakeholders in higher education can represent the cause of inclusive education particularly in higher education and therefore redirect higher education towards better inclusiveness.

Apart from NCHE, stakeholders at the meeting also included those from the department of higher education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; private and public higher education institutions and inclusive education experts.

Public Universities hail National Council for Higher Education on successful 2018/19 public Universities selection clinics

Officials representing the country’s four public Universities (PUs) have hailed efforts by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) in the just ended 2018/19 selection sensitisation clinics conducted across the country.

For the second year running, NCHE has been conducting the clinics together with the four public Universities in the country to sensitise eligible candidates on how to complete the application form.

The four public Universities are Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR); University of Malawi (UNIMA); Mzuzu University (MZUNI) and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).

In an interview, MZUNI Assistant registrar Wezi Shaba, said the sensitization clinics have proved to be crucial and that this year’s participation by students has been very overwhelming showing the relevance of the clinics.

“The sensitization clinics are very helpful as they provide candidates with important information as they apply to go to the public Universities, all we need to do is ensure we impart as much knowledge as possible to the candidates” he said.

Dr. Sekanawo Kasiya representing LUANAR, concurred with Shaba saying the selection clinics are crucial as they enable the students make informed decisions on what programmes to apply for in relation to the grades they scored.

During the clinics, NCHE representatives explained the application process and how students can complete the form while representatives from each of the four universities elaborated on the programmes they offer as well as their requirements.

Candidates who completed their M.S.C.E, IGCSE or ‘O’ level equivalent; Advanced Subsidiary Certificate or a National Senior Certificate; Advanced Level, International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or ‘A’ Level equivalent in the past three years 2016, 2017 and 2018 are eligible to apply.

Candidates with an M.S.C.E must have at least six credit passes (a minimum of grade ‘6’).

Speaking during random interviews after the orientations, a quarter of potential students who attended the clinics expressed satisfaction on the guidelines as explained by NCHE and representatives from the universities, saying the process is much simpler now than before.

Despite some expressing skepticism on the available spaces in the universities as compared to the number of eligible candidates, the students also expressed joy at the fact that one has to apply to the four public universities using only one form.

The students also hoped that NCHE will from next year conduct the clinics at as many venues as possible to deal away with congestion which was evident at the 2018 venues.

NCHE has been conducting PUS clinics since last year in line with its role in harmonizing university selection.

To ease pressure and costs, NCHE has also created an online system so students can apply and submit online. The system was introduced last year and the Council hopes that many students will utilize this method.

Students now have a choice to apply either online or through hard copies.

The forms are available at District Commissioners and District Education Managers offices in all districts across Malawi.

The application forms can also be accessed on NCHE website as well as websites for all the four public universities.

The closing date for receipt of applications for the 2018/19 PUS is 31 January 2019.

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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