By John Saukira
UNICAF University in Malawi is very unique as it is the only one that offers all degree programs online, saying this makes the institution unique to many other universities in the country
Speaking on Saturday when UNICAF University organized a party for its lecturers, staff and students, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Robert Ridley said: “Our students access their degrees, programs, classes, course works, learning materials, books, journals and anything to do with a degree through computers or tablets. We supplement these with tutorials.”
He said this enables students to learn in an environment of their own choice which makes them concentrate on their studies and achieve better results.
In a world which is advancing technologically, Ridley may not be far from reality in his remarks that seem to overpraise a university which was introduced in Malawi only two years ago.
There are a lot of private universities currently mushrooming in Malawi, raising fears that the quality of tertiary education in the country is now being compromised.
Ridley urged the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to conduct regular checks on the performance of such institutions so that Malawians get better degrees from either public or private universities.
The party brought together most of UNICAF University’s online students drawn from as far as Blantyre and Mzuzu and musician Skeffa Chimoto wowed the students with a magical performance.
President of the student community Enoch Foster, who is pursuing a Masters in Business Administration, commended the initiative, saying it has bonded the UNICAF University’s family.
And Wellington Binali, a PHD student, described the university as one of the best in the world in terms of course delivery and research.
The latest in the series of Open Lectures by UNICAF University Malawi was presented on November 30, at the University’s campus in Lilongwe. The lecture, which was open to the general public, focused on the opportunities created by E-Learning in the pursuit of quality higher education.
Award winning Malawian Engineer, Dr. Matthews Mtumbuka, an IT Operations and Governance Lead for Airtel Africa, was the guest speaker.
He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford in the UK and has published more than a dozen refereed academic papers on engineering.
He has received many distinctions and awards, including the Archbishop Tutu Fellowship as one of the 25 best emerging young leaders in Africa and the American Academy of Achievement award as one of the best 250 postgraduate students in the world.
Mtumbuka spoke on the development of E-Learning in Malawi and its role in bringing quality, affordability and increased access to quality education to a large number of learners.
Mtumbuka’s exciting presentation was backed by statistics and other data relating to internet penetration in Malawi and mobile phone usage to justify his conclusion that Malawi is prepared and ready for E-learning.
He presented some efforts by the Malawi Government to enhance Open Distance Learning (ODL) at public universities, as well as government plans to establish a university dedicated to distance learning.
Mtumbuka commended UNICAF for pioneering E-Learning in higher education in Malawi and expressed the opinion that the development of E-Learning will help bring quality, affordability and accessibility to higher education in the country.
More than 90 guests attended the open lecture, which was covered by major TV and radio stations and the national press. The Open Lecture series are presented within the framework of the University’s corporate social responsibility programme, by distinguished speakers focusing on important current topics, which concern the majority of the citizens of Malawi.
On his part, one of the participant for this event Douglas Mzuza of Farmers World applauded UNICAF for leading E-Learning in Malawi and across Africa and he encouraged Malawians to largely patronize these open lectures so that it may help them choose which mode of learning can suit with their business and job schedules.
He said E-Learning is the way to go for the 21st Century’s higher education system which is limitless in terms of intake.
The event started with the UNICAF Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Martha Mondiwa, who gave a brief presentation of their degree programmes and outlined the university’s vision.
She stressed that UNICAF, which offers bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degree programmes, is the leading online platform in sub-Saharan Africa offering an effective, affordable and flexible learning model worldwide.