The Big-Mouthed: Of private universities and education standards in Malawi—Pic is just for illustration

In the week just ending, the social media has been replete with an examination paper that appears to be a continuous assessment test administered at DMI- The Baptist University, one of the privately run universities in the country. Administered in May this year, the paper was meant for the second year students pursuing a diploma in education.

What has, however, brought the examination paper into the public ridicule is the validity of its contents bearing in mind the level of education at which it is written.

The contents of the paper are deemed very unfit for university students. Its content validity seems to be even shallower for secondary school students and yet it was meant for tertiary level scholars. That, on its own, speaks volumes as to what calibre of graduates the students going through such an institution will be at the industry: poor innocent products of a dunderhead master!

Apparently, there is an article circulating in the Media and it is purported to have been penned by one Peter Chimalizeni, discrediting entirely the genuineness of the said university and its products. According to Chimalizeni, who claims to be a lecturer at DMI Universty: Mangochi Compus, the institution forces its lecturers to award good grades to students even if the students have failed examinations.

Chimalizeni also asserts that the institution does not have qualified teaching staff. The majority of the lecturers are first degree holders; products of the same institution. Now, one wonders how a blind man can successfully lead fellow blind men.

Currently, the university does not supervise its students pursuing diploma or degree programs of education (and other fields) whenever the students are conducting teaching practicums in various secondary schools in the country. When an inquiry is made why such is the case, while their counterparts from other institutions jump up and down with all sorts of preparation to convince the supervisory teams, a lame response is put to you that the university regards the student teachers as already well versed with the art of teaching and so supervision is of no need.

To say the least, faculty of education is one of the mother faculties in most of the universities both in Malawi and outside. What it means is that its being a main faculty at a university, it should have strong structures in place and a true relevance, because it is the hub of education standards of any country since education experts; teachers in particular, are trained under this faculty. And so it is these teachers who go back to teach the posterity in the secondary and high schools.

Now if such teachers are poorly trained by such maladministered universities, it is a disastrous future being created because the cycle of the poor products will be recurrent.

A normal university is a haven of intellectual growth and development. In normal circumstances, it is a must that lecturers at such institutions should hold at least a masters degree because they teach students aiming to graduate with a first degree, which does not ascertain mastery of disciplines of knowledge.

Unfortunately, such an abnormality is normalcy at an institution which was screened and approved by a higher body that regulates education in the country including the ministry of education in Malawi. Shame!

 Let this speculation be a warning shot to education stakeholders; especially the line ministry and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) whose primary onus is to accredit universities and colleges in the country, to conduct true and impartial quality checks at the institution not out of witch hunting, but on the account of improving standards and relevance of the education in the country. Lest the national education standards in this poor country are destined for doom!

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