The government of Flanders has constructed a classroom block worth K117.3 million at Natural Resources College (NRC), a constituent college of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture (Luanar).
The block was officially handed over to the college on Friday.
Deputy General Representative of the government of Flanders, Nikolas Bosscher, said they constructed the classroom block as one way of improving extension services in Malawi.
“The government of Flanders prioritised agricultural extension services in its country Strategy Paper for our development cooperation with Malawi. The Natural Resources College is an important stakeholder within the subsector of extension services as it is the primary supplier of qualified extension workers,” Bosscher said.
He added: “Now that NRC will open the newly constructed classroom block, it may appear tempting to recruit extra students. This will definitely have its short-term advantage, but in the longer term, the country needs highly trained graduates. This quality can only be achieved if every student receives necessary guidance by their teachers. The college should, therefore, aim to have the ideal student-to-teacher ratio,” Bosscher said.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Erica Maganga, hailed the Flanders government for the support.
“Extension work is very important. In the ministry, we have departments like livestock, crops and fisheries, among many others. The person who works directly with farmers is the extension worker. We are, therefore, grateful to the Flanders government for supporting the Malawi government through the construction of the block. It will lead to recruitment of more extension workers,” she said.
Maganga said the recommended ratio of extension worker to farmers is 1:700 but currently the ratio is 1:3000.
According to NRC Principal, Timothy Gondwe, currently the staff-student ratio is 1:10. He said they would like to reach 1:18.
He, therefore, appealed for more support towards teaching and learning facilities.
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