By Vincent Gunde
President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera says access to education is a constitutional and human rights issue and as such no student should fail to complete their educational aspirations due to lack of school fees.
President Chakwera has lamented that while the government has set up the Loans Board to provide loans to needy students lacking fees in various academic institutions, some are not able to access such loans for one reason or the other, describing this as a worrisome development.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony of over 2400 outstanding individuals at LUANAR in Lilongwe on Thursday, President Chakwera said student accommodation in the public universities has been one of the major challenges.
Dr. Chakwera said LUANAR will soon construct hostels at its Natural Resources College (NRC) and Bunda Campuses to accommodate over a thousand students expressing no doubt that the graduating students have been furnished with the requisite skills to thrive in their respective disciplines and to make their contributions to the agricultural development and transformation of Malawi.
“I have no doubt that you have each been furnished with the requisite skills to contribute to the agricultural development and transformation of Malawi,” he said.
President Chakwera appealed to the graduating students to labour everyday in unity to fulfill the desire of making Malawi a better country and them should be in the forefront to provide solutions to a litany of challenges affecting the country’s development such as food security, protection of the environment, containing diseases, combating locust invasions, providing sustainable agricultural initiatives and dealing with problems of climate change among others.
He said LUANAR as an agro-based higher education institution, it needs to move beyond its current focus towards more innovations and industrialization (level 5 of education) observing that LUANAR’S presence is currently confined to its location, specifically where teaching and learning is taking place.
The President said LUANAR needs to spread beyond Bunda, Natural Resources College (NRC), City Campus and ODel centres, if it were to effectively undertake its mandate in different Agri Ecological zones in line with the ever-changing environments, economies and climate influences.
He said he support the initiative to take the university to where the people are and where its mandate is needed and him as Chancellor and the University Council will be considering other sites or centres within the country to enhance the universities impact.
President chakwera said taking the university to the people will increase accessibility, enhance relevance and cultural diversity, and provide collaboration opportunities.