Mutharika  Speech at the University of Malawi graduation ceremony: access  and quality of university has improved

Graduating from the University is a great moment in everyone’s life. Graduation is a rite of passage into a life beyond school.

Let me say welcome to our world. And congratulations to you all.

Be proud of yourself because we are proud of you. The University is the highest place of learning in the world.

You have been to the great heights of education. Now you can spread your wings of hope and go for your highest goals.

I urge you to think big! I urge you to dream big. Every success begins as a dream. And pursue your dreams with determination.

As you graduate today, your future is open-ended. Your success in this life depends more on what you do than what is done for you.

Most of you deserve a better future. But you have to learn to think positively and act with determination in whatever you do.

Unfortunately, we live in a country where many people like thinking negatively.

Negative thinking is like driving with a flat tyre. It will never take us anywhere. We need mindset change. We need to be a positive minded people.

I believe the University can lead and inspire this national mindset change. We are the institution that teaches Malawians how to think as different professionals.

I believe the University can make a big difference in the way we think as a country. But for the University to carry forward this mission, mindset change must begin with us. We must be the change that we want to see.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me appreciate the wave of change that I have seen happening in our University. Overall, we are doing three things to achieve three goals:

(a) We are increasing access to university education for Malawians

(b) We are improving the quality of university education

(c) We are making higher education relevant to the needs of the country and the people.

If some tell you what they will do, tell them what we are doing.

In order to increase access to university education, we have constructed state-of-the-art Open Distance Learning centres.

Malawians can now study on their laptops and mobile phones because not everyone has the time to study physically in the university.

We have constructed modern ICT facilities, new lecture theatres and administration blocks. We have also refurbished old lecture theatres.

Over the past four years we have expanded the teaching and learning facilities at Chancellor College, The Polytechnic, Mzuzu University, Malawi University of Science and Technology and Kamuzu College of Nursing.

We are modernizing our public universities because I want Malawians to learn in a good environment.

And we are doing more to increase access to university education. We have increased funding to the Higher Education Students Loans Board. No deserving students should fail to access university education due to lack of tuition fees.

At this point, let me ask the Minister of Education to explore how we can work with commercial banks to provide more student loan opportunities. Let us open more to university education for many more Malawians.

Apart from increasing access to university education, we are also improving the quality of that education. Let us respect our quality regulatory mechanisms.

I would like to encourage the corporate culture of regular self-assessment in our universities. Besides, we must also work with the National Council of Higher Education.

Today, universities operate in a competitive environment where excellence is the benchmark. Higher education institutions must be open, transparent and accountable.

We must make sure that all higher education institutions should provide adequate teaching and learning resources. These must include well-stocked libraries and laboratories.

All higher education institutions must hire and retain well-qualified lecturers who are committed to the principles of the academy.
However, education quality is expensive. And we cannot continue depending on subvention for all our expenses.

Let us aggressively explore alternatives for funding our public universities as most countries do. We need to change the culture for financing public universities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me appeal to all Malawians to unite in building an inclusive society. Malawi must be an inclusive society that empowers the Youth and Women.

But building an inclusive society is a process, and not an event that takes place in one day. I will continue appointing women of merit to decision making levels. We have begun this process.

I appointed the first female Vice Chancellor in this country. I have appointed the first female Chief Commissioner of Prisons. I have appointed a female Clerk of Parliament and Ombudsman. I have appointed a female Chairperson for Malawi Electoral Commission and the Commission has a majority of women members. This is a process that we have begun.

I have appointed many more women into various positions because I believe in empowering women. Of the four judges that I appointed in 2016, two are women. I have appointed women ambassadors, women Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in parastatals, women Principal Secretaries, and a woman Solicitor General. I have also appointed a woman Secretary General of my own party – the DPP.

But the responsibility of promoting women is not for the Government alone. How many women are CEOs in the private sector? As a HeForShe Champion,

  • I want to see women in the private sector.
    • I want to see women in faith communities, including PAC (which is male dominated).
    • I want to see women in parliament
    • I want to see women in labour movements
    • I want to see women in civil societies
    • I want to see women leading in the media

In all these organisations, there are only few women in decision making positions. Even some of those who are attacking Government do not have women in their leadership levels. So, let us stop being hypocrites and advance women in our society.

I know there are many Malawians who appreciate that building an inclusive society is a process.

Finally, let me appeal to us all to unite in developing this country. Let me urge the University to take a leading role in championing our collective vision as a country.

Malawi is only one country. We need one vision. One country, one vision! The following is what we need to do in order to take Malawi to prosperity.

1) We need to move Malawi from aid to trade. We must attain our economic autonomy.

2) For us to move Malawi from aid to trade, we need to make Malawi a producing and exporting country.

3) For us to make Malawi a producing and exporting country, we need to industrialise. We need to engage our farmers in primary rural industries.

4) But we can only industrialise if we are a skilled labour society. No country can develop without a skilled force. We are building community technical colleges to make Malawi a skilled labour society.

5) We also need foreign direct investors to bring in more capital, create new industries and create jobs. That is why we started the Foreign Direct Investment program.

6) Finally, we need good infrastructure to facilitate economic growth. That is why we are building new roads, investing in energy, taking electricity and piped water to rural communities.

This is our vision as a country. And I ask the university to find your place and play your role in this collective vision.

May God Bless You!
And God Bless Malawi!
Thank You