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 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.

NCHE TRAINS QUALITY ASSURANCE EXPERTS FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES

In a continuous quest to ensure Malawians are accessing quality higher education, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) organized a capacity building workshop for Quality Assurance Specialists from both public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The Workshop which was sponsored through the UNESCO SHENZEN Project which NCHE is coordinating, took place in Mangochi.

Speaking at the workshop, NCHE CEO Dr. Ignasio Jimu noted that globally, governance and management of quality in higher education is a topical issue.

He said Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and African Union’s Agenda 2063 the “Africa we Want” have emphasized the need for quality and relevant education.

“The workshop is a manifestation of the duty and responsibility all the participants share in the quest to promote quality in the higher education sector,” he said.

Guest of Honour at the workshop, Dr. Samson MacJessie Mbewe, who is the Director for Higher Education in the Ministry of Educations, Science and Technology, commended NCHE for organizing such a workshop.

“It is pleasing that as an external quality assurance agency, you have taken a bold step to support HEIs to strengthen their internal quality assurance units. This is evidence that the journey to achieving quality higher education can only be realized from a true partnership between the external quality assurance regulators and the internal players in delivery of higher education programme.

He said the Ministry of Education is appreciative to the UNESCO Shenzen Project for complimenting the initiatives of the government of Malawi in promoting access to quality and relevant higher education.

Some of the topics at the workshop include Organization and Operationalization of Internal Quality Assurance Units in HEIs; External Quality Assurance Processes and Instruments; African Quality Assurance Rating Mechanism as a tool for internal quality Assurance; Guidelines for self-assessment at institutional and programme level among others.

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.

NCHE trains Reviewers for registration and accreditation of higher education institutions

Chief Executive Officer for the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Dr. Ignasio Jimu, has underscored the need for well-trained Reviewers who conduct assessments of all higher education institutions and the programmes they offer.

Dr. Jimu was speaking at the 3-day training of NCHE Reviewers held recently in Mangochi.

The training drew participants from different areas of specialization from both public and private higher education institutions.

The training was funded by the World Bank through the Skills Development Project which NCHE has been coordinating since 2015.

According to Dr. Jimu, the training was deliberately structured to prepare potential Reviewers for a particular work context- that of the NCHE Reviewer, hence, much of the time on the training schedule was allocated to sessions that focused on how one can become an effective Reviewer.

“The Council is of the view that besides expertise in an area of specialization, for example being a natural scientist or a social scientist or an engineer; just to mention some fields of specialization, Reviewers should be familiar with the legal framework of NCHE, which covers the functions, powers and related provisions as defined in NCHE Act. Reviewers should be conversant with the methods and methodology of NCHE,” he explained.

Topics at the training workshop included a keynote presentation by Professor Jonathan Makuwira, Vice Chancellor of Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) titled: “Trends in higher education: implications on the tertiary education sector in Malawi.”

In his presentation, Professor Makuwira talked about the value and utility of education; Open, Distance and E-Learning (ODeL); competency based education; curriculum reform and decolonizing of content among other trends in higher education globally and locally.

Other presentations were on powers and functions of NCHE; internal and external quality assurance; NCHE Minimum Standards, which are used in the assessment of institutions and their programmes; the registration process; the accreditation process; reviewer guidelines; the peer review process as well as inquiries, audits and spot checks.

Dr. Lucy Kukulanga, Quality Assurance Director for Kamuzu College of Nursing said the training for Reviewers is very crucial as it has put them all at the same footing by acquainting them with the NCHE Minimum Standards and all the tools necessary for assessment of higher education institutions.

“This training is important as it has equipped us with the necessary information and tools we need for registration and accreditation assessment of institutions. We are all from different institutions, but the training will ensure there is consistency in how we conduct ourselves and do the actual assessments,” Dr. Kululanga said.

The participants were able to do mock assessment of academic programmes for purposes of registration among others.

This is the second set of NCHE Reviewers training following the first set which was done in 2016.

NCHE was established by Act of Parliament No. 15 of 2011 with the mandate to regulate the higher education sector.

One of its mandates is to register and accredit higher education institutions.

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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