Peter Mutharika proposes levy for higher education
President Peter Mutharika has said the government will introduce an education levy to support learning and infrastructure development for tertiary education in the country.
Speaking during the University of Malawi (Unima) 2014-2015 academic year’s third congregation yesterday, Mutharika said the country needs to change its education funding model.
“It is hardly sustainable to depend on direct subvention to fund research and infrastructure. We need to rethink our ways. We must change the way we finance higher education. Therefore, I want to see the following happening.
“We will introduce an education levy to fund research and infrastructure in higher education,” Mutharika said.
He was, however, surprised that people who gathered in the Chancellor College’s Great Hall clapped hands for the idea.
“I thought Malawians do not to like to pay tax. It is high time people applauded higher taxes.
I am very glad that this tax will help education in this country,” he said.
Mutharika said he also wants to see universities introducing innovative reforms for funding.
“Every college needs a vibrant directorate of research that can generate and utilize research funds intelligently. We will do our part; you must do your part. With reforms, we can do a lot,” he said.
The President said the status and prestige of a university is made of the type and quality of research as research is the heartbeat of the university.
“Research is generation of new knowledge and solutions that serve society. From a university that lives up to its reason of existence, its research; its teaching; and its graduates must solve local problems within their global context. Within the principle of glocality, we must think globally and act locally,” The President said.
According to Mutharika, every university must always assess its contribution to society and he is pleased to note that the tracer study for Unima is ready for implementation.
“I urge all universities to undertake tracer studies because we must know what our graduates do with the education and training they receive. We must know if their education and training prepares them to meet the currents of our society.
“Everywhere, tracer studies and situation analyses must inform every curriculum review. Periodic tracer studies and curriculum reviews must be standard norms for improving quality in our high education. And the National Council for Higher Education must see to it that these standards are followed in this country,” Mutharika said.
He said the government will also soon activate the Malawi Research and Education Network (MAREN) which is aimed at connecting the country’s public universities with the rest of the world, and access academic information beyond all boundaries.
He also said he is aware of the challenges in the University of Malawi and it hurts to see special needs students living and learning in very distressing conditions.
“So far, Chancellor College is the only college that admits Special Needs Students. Therefore, we will construct a purpose-built centre for Special Needs learners at Chancellor College. And I urge the rest of the colleges and universities to plan for special needs students. They too need to access education in comfort,” he said.
On the burnt Mzuzu University library, Mutharika urged the authorities of Mzuzu University and the Ministry of Education to finalise the technical consultations for the government to determine its support.
457 graduated during the ceremony in different programmes including doctor of philosophy-PhDs (honoris causa) to some notable figures such as former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo, Peter Mwanza and Brown Chimphamba.
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