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Mzuzu University ICT students steering Malawi to digital learning system

Nyalugwe, Tondonya and Moyo

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)–John F. Kennedy once observed that the word “crisis” in Chinese is composed of two characters—one representing danger, the other opportunity. He may not have been entirely correct on the linguistics, but the sentiment is true enough: a crisis presents a choice.

With the foregoing, Mzuzu University student Leroy Nyalugwe saw the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended nearly every aspect of life, from the personal to the professional, as an opportunity for innovation to address challenges facing the education sector.

Nyalugwe, a Bachelor of Science (ICT) student at Mzuni, an institution that is known for producing ICT wizards in Malawi and beyond the borders, has come to the rescue of Malawian secondary students by escalating access to education with his first of its kind innovation—Mathematics electronic modules—which has attracted interests of educators and education ministry authorities.

The innovation, that initially appeared to counteract the Covid-19 situation that has challenged the education system across the world and forced educators to shift to digital learning from traditional pedagogical approach, has proved to be a permanent solution to help in enhancing quality and continuous teaching and learning in Malawi.

Appreciating the efforts, Mzuzu University recently sent Nyalugwe along with fellow ICT student Vision Thondoya and Head of ICT Department, Reuben Moyo, to represent the institution at the digital learning system exposition held at Malawi Institute of Education (MIE) in Zomba on 25th February 2021, where organizations and companies showcased their digital solutions to teaching and learning in the education sector.

Nyalugwe presented a demo of one of his e-modules and the representatives from the ministry of education evaluated it as the best solution to help in enhancing quality and continuous teaching and learning in Malawi.

They also suggested that the e-modules should be presented through Television Learning Programs, and also to identify the best teachers to be involved in developing electronic modules of the same quality in all other different subjects.

“The modules are potable and compatible to play in portable devices like smart phones, laptops and the audience suggested to have the modules run through Television Stations. The modules provide a step by step learning platform. They can help students to visit difficult concepts anywhere at any time, for revision purpose and to catch-up with missed classes among others,” said Nyalugwe.

He added: “Utilizing my vast experience in teaching Mathematics and the knowledge I have acquired from my study of ICT, I decided to fathom an innovative way of teaching secondary school Mathematics. The aim was to make the learning of Mathematics more interesting, and easily accessible in other modes other than the traditional chalk and text.

“In the e-modules, I have endeavored to bring out the applied or practical essence of Mathematics, rather than negatively perceived abstract nature of the subject. All this has been done with the aim of attracting the interest of the student by making him or her see Mathematics at work in his or her daily life.”

While Nyalugwe’s innovation is on e-modules, Thondoya has created MILOS, a digital simulation app that is used to create virtual teaching environments.

According to Thondoya, MILOS is currently being expanded to create simulations for laboratories in secondary schools to enable students to conduct virtual chemistry, physics and biology experiments in a lifelike and fun experience

On his part, Mzuni management   staff representative Mr. Moyo expressed his gratitude for the exposure, saying it was a fruitful event.

He said he was happy to see Mzuni students showing the Nation that “we have the best solutions to help the country to circumvent the gaps that the covid-19 pandemic has left our education sector with.”  

Commenting on the electronic modules, Moyo said that if the system demonstrated was explicitly working on complex areas like mathematics, it can easily work for all other subjects.

“The ICT department together with the University management will keep on working with these students to support their efforts and to enhance their initiatives,” he said.

The Mzuni team was also recently engaged by the education ministry to facilitate the ICT and E-Learning Training using the innovation where secondary school teachers drawn from Dedza and Mangochi districts were trained on the use of the e-modules.

E-learning teachers training session at Mponela

Given the bad times that humanity is experiencing at the hands of covid-19 pandemic, Nyalugwe says the e-modules will facilitate the teaching and learning of secondary school mathematics beyond the physical class room, at the students’ own convenience, in a manner that is very psychologically (combining text ,audio and visual) interesting for the students and even where there is no teacher physically present.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at Mzuzu University was established in the year 2005 under the Faculty of Information Science and Communication and now belongs to the Faculty of Science, Technology and Innovation since 2018 due to the University restructuring.

Throughout the years, the department has produced graduates whose innovations are helping in enabling the country’s economic growth by broadening the reach of technology in different sectors.

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Maneno Chimulala
Maneno Chimulalahttps://www.maravipost.com
I am a journalist, educator, and activist with passion for telling stories about social justice, sports and political issues. I graduated from Mzuzu University. I started my career at the Maravi Post online publication in 2012 as an intern while in college. Upon graduating from Mzuzu University I was offered a job as Sports Reporter because of my background as a goalkeeper and rose to the position of sub editor. I also had a short stint with Nyasatimes, Malawi Punch and Malawi Digest. Over the past seven years, I have worked intimately with rural organizations and communities in Malawi on human rights, girl child education and grassroots development projects. With an academic background in education, I also volunteer as male champion for girls’ education under Girls Empowerment Networks (GENET) in Malawi’s South West Education Division (SWED).
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