The Importance of Quality in Education

The third Unicaf University Open Lecture by Professor Brown Chimphamba

Renowned educationist, Professor Brown Chimphamba, BSc, MSc, PhD, Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), former Ambassador of Malawi to the UN, former Executive Member of UNESCO and of the Association of African Universities was the distinguished speaker delivering the third Unicaf University Open Lecture on July 19 at the University’s state of the art campus in Lilongwe. Professor Chimphamba’s lecture, entitled “Why Is Quality the Decisive Factor in Higher Education?”, managed to attract a large audience of professionals and business people, academics, students and members of the general public, proving that the topical themes and excellent speakers of the Unicaf University Open Lecture series stimulate the interest of the wider community.

The Vice Rector of multi-campus Unicaf University, Mr. Buxton Mpando, welcomed the guests, thanking them for their ongoing support of the University, which guarantees the continuing success of the Open Lecture Series.

The Rector of Unicaf University, Professor Kuthemba Mwale also welcomed guests and expressed the satisfaction of the University at becoming a member of the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative.

Professor Chimphamba, presenting his lecture, referred to the fact that, 53 years after gaining independence, Malawi has 4 public universities and over 12 private ones, but the impact these institutions are having on the population of 17 million Malawians is still being questioned. He mentioned the problems faced by the local public universities, which may have a negative effect on educational standards and on the way Malawi academic qualifications are perceived outside the country. The Professor also referred to the importance of tertiary institutions undertaking research to benefit the future of global knowledge and the people of their country. He questioned the employability of some of the graduates entering their country’s job market with locally earned qualifications and stressed that online learning, the educational delivery approach adopted by Unicaf University, is the way to the future, because it frees the dissemination of knowledge from space and time limitations; through the use of technology students can study at their own convenient times, without leaving their home and family. He also commended e-learning as the modern way of teaching, connecting students and tutors and administrators who may be in different countries, thousands of miles apart, but can still interact, network, teach and learn. But in spite of these great advantages – he added – we must ensure that online education provided is of good quality and relevant to the needs of the people.

Professor Chimphamba spoke in support of higher education as a tool for a sustainable future, and asked for transparency in the government’s allocation of funding to enable leading universities to rise to world class level and to focus on active learning, rather than the traditional teaching methods currently in use. The world, said Mr Chimphamba is constantly changing and calls for a new breed of leaders and thinkers who are able to understand the complexities of change and solve the problems they bring with them.

Answering questions put to him by the audience, Professor Chimphamba expressed the belief that, with the establishment of the National Council of Higher Education, Malawi is on the right track towards upgrading and modernising its educational system, but more institutions need to follow in the footsteps of Unicaf University and co-operate with organisations and institutions outside the country. He also advocated a return to the adherence of standards of quality in education, which is possible through teaching and learning in any language.

After the lecture, guests were shown around the campus by University’s officials and continued their discussion on higher education over drinks and snacks.

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