Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reframing the discussion on Malawi’s problems of access to higher education

This article first appeared in The Nation, on Wednesday 15th December, 2010, under the title 'No solution to Malawi's problems of access to higher education?'.

Returning from a trip outside Malawi, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Professor Peter Mutharika, brought back home some ideas on how to change Malawi’s higher education landscape. Professor Mutharika told journalists that he had held discussions with various officials in American universities on Malawi’s plans to introduce six new universities in the next ten years. One particular idea the minister mentioned was that of community colleges.

I recently suggested in an article published in The Nation newspaper, in Pambazuka News and at the Zeleza Post, that one way of making the six universities a reality might be to elevate the country’s five public teacher training colleges into universities, granting bachelors degrees and higher to primary school teachers and other educators.  In addition to the proposal from Professor Mutharika for Malawi to explore the possibility of community colleges, let us consider two more ideas. The first would be to elevate all technical colleges to university status granting 4-year bachelors’ degrees. The second would be to convert all 3-year diploma programmes into 4-year bachelors’ degree programmes. Otherwise, the proposed six universities will remain a mere drop in the ocean of lack of equitable access to higher education in Malawi.

The results of the 2010 Malawi School Leaving Certificate (MSCE) examinations help put the problem of lack of access to higher education into sharp perspective. In 2010 68,642 Malawians sat the exam (The Nation, 18 November, 2010, p.1). Out of these, 36,621 passed. Going by this year’s university selection numbers, less than 5,000 of these will be accorded places in the country’s universities. The University of Malawi will take in approximately 2,000, and Mzuzu University (MZUNI) will take in about 500. The Catholic University of Malawi (CUNIMA), the Malawi Adventist University, University of Livingstonia, Blantyre International University, African Bible College, and the other 4-year degree granting institutions will not take in any more than UNIMA and MZUNI, combined.

The remainder, no less than 31,000 young Malawians, will be faced with very grim life chances. Some might find places in the certificate and 3-year diploma granting institutions such as Domasi College of Education, Malawi Institute of Journalism, Malawi College of Health Sciences, the various nursing schools, teacher training colleges, and others. Even then, the numbers won’t add up to much. Others will find some form of self or paid employment in the formal and informal sector. But many others will languish in a socio-economic limbo, unable to turn their school leaver status into economic viability.

As of 2007, the year for which current data is available from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST)’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) Section, the total university enrollment for UNIMA and MZUNI was 8,168. The figure was much smaller for the seven technical colleges in the country, 1,388 students. No figures are available for the total enrollment of students in other tertiary institutions, such as nursing colleges, the college of health sciences, the Malawi Institute of Journalism, Domasi College of Education, and others. The gross enrolment of secondary school students in Malawi hovers around 233,573 (Education Statistics, 2008). Each year Malawi releases on to the streets and in the villages no less than 30,000 young people who have passed the MSCE. Another 30,000 fails the exam, and has to either repeat, or forget about a school-leaving certificate altogether.

The case for drastic changes in access to and enrollment in our universities, and expanding the number of higher learning institutions in the country, is overwhelming. We could establish community colleges, as Professor Mutharika proposes. We could elevate technical, vocational and teacher training colleges into 4-year degree granting institutions. We could also abolish the 3-year diploma programme across the board by adding one or two more semesters and award graduates with a full bachelors degree. In some countries such as the United Kingdom, three years of full time study earns one a bachelors’ degree.

In the United States of America, community colleges offer a two-year associate’s degree. Anybody who has successfully completed a secondary school education is eligible. The cost is remarkably lower than conventional universities, making them accessible to as many Americans as possible. According to Dr. Jill Biden, wife of US Vice President Joe Biden, a private university in the United States costs an average of $26,000 per academic year. A public university costs an average of $7,000. A community college costs an average of $2,500.

It is strange that many Malawian institutions of higher learning cling to the outdated 3-year diploma model. Students in these diploma programmes do work that is comparable to 4-year degree programmes. It is a huge waste of time and money for the students, their families and for the nation to make people undergo a three-year diploma programme, and then a few years later bring some of them back to spend another two or more years to finish a bachelors degree. It should be possible to redesign 3-year diploma programmes into bachelors’ degree programmes. We could save a lot of time, money and interrupted lives.

Such a change would increase the number of highly educated Malawians. It would also prepare more Malawians for post-graduate studies. This would also lead to a wider pool of Malawians with requisite academic qualifications and intellectual training better qualified to teach in the degree-granting institutions. The above point is important to make in response to the inevitable question of where Malawi can get qualified university lecturers and professors to teach the numbers that would result from these proposed changes. Affording more Malawians an opportunity for an appropriate university education relevant to Malawi’s context locally and globally would be good for the development of the country.

As I pointed out in the aforementioned earlier article, most countries around the world are realizing that the future of their societies lies in improving access to and the quality of university education and research. Countries such as India, China, Singapore, and the United States of America are looking up to and increasing funding to their universities to help revitalize their economies and chart a better future for their people. Recent talk from President Bingu wa Mutharika and Professor Peter Mutharika, suggests Malawi is also beginning to make access to higher education a national priority.

In the United States, community college enrollments represent 40 percent of all higher education enrollments. There are more than 18 million students in approximately 4,000 institutions of higher learning in the United States, according to Harvard University professor Louis Menand, in his book The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Reaction in the American University (2010). Calling it “one of the best-kept secrets of higher education,” President Obama in 2009 asked Jill Biden to lead a new initiative to revamp America’s community college system. President Obama and Vice President Biden have proposed $12 billion dollars for the initiative, over a ten-year period. They hope to strengthen the capacity of community colleges across the United States and enable them produce up to 5 million graduates over that period. Long seen as a poor alternative to a university education, community colleges have started seeing their enrollments rise in the wake of the economic crisis America has been undergoing since 2008.

Some community colleges in America have already been working on plans to link themselves to universities so their graduates can seamlessly transition from 2-year associate degrees into bachelors’ degrees. Community colleges have very flexible entry qualifications, offering access to a diverse range of Americans. Some students are parents who left school so they could raise families. Others are workers who have been retrenched and are looking for an opportunity to re-skill and catch up with new advances in their profession. The operational premise here is that if you can successfully complete a secondary school education, you can successfully attend university. In Malawi, the acute lack of space in the university system has bred the belief that merely passing the MSCE is not enough; you have to pass it with distinction. This belief is misleading. It has wasted the lives of many capable, brilliant young Malawians on the grounds that they did not achieve a distinction at MSCE.  

Considering all of these proposals for the Malawian higher education context would go some way toward fulfilling national education policy as laid out in the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) 2007-2-16, the blueprint guiding education policy and practice in Malawi. The policy priorities for all educitonal areas outlined in the NESP are improved governance and management, quality and relevance, and access and equity. The climate seems ripe for a discussion of such bold initiatives in the country’s higher education system. We will miss a golden opportunity if we fail to engage each other and consult as widely as possible in this national discussion.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Transforming the teaching profession as a national development strategy

Note: This article appeared in the Daily Times, 7 October, 2010

The occasion for this year’s World Teachers Day commemoration, October 5th, has spurred recollections and reminiscences of teachers who have been influential in a number of people’s lives. In a ‘My Point of View’ op-ed column by Limani Nsapato in the Friday October 1st issue of the Daily Times, he wrote about a Mr. Zuze, his Standard 3 teacher who inspired him to start liking school, and achieve academic success in later life. In the Nation on Sunday of October 3 Akossa Mphepo dedicated her Editor’s Note in the EveryWoman section of the paper to the teachers who have remained memorable for her to this day. She also interviewed Maggie Madimbo, a primary school teacher who went on to amass degrees, and is now studying for a Ph.D. in the United States.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I would like to say something about my own teacher training days and how I was inspired by teachers who shaped my passion for reading and writing. In so doing, I would also like to celebrate friends and colleagues with whom I have travelled along this path, some of whom are, unfortunately, departed. I will conclude my thoughts with a discussion on Malawi’s aspirations for its future teaching corps, as outlined in the National Strategy for Teacher Education nd Development (NSTED), developed in 2008. Over and above everything else, I want to suggest that we engage in a constructive national debate on how to transform teachers’ lives and performance in Malawi.

My teacher training started in December 1989 and ended in September 1993. The MASTEP program had been designed as a three-year program, combining a residential model during the school vacations, and a distance-learning model during the school year. In effect, as can be seen from the dates, it lasted four years. I made some very striking friendships within a week of my arrival at the Lilongwe Teachers’ College, towards the end of December 1989. In a matter of days, I had become very good friends with Charles Mnjale Gwazeni, Albert Kalimbakatha, Isdor Kaiya, Limiton Chalera, Ken Kalonde, and a few others. We all had one thing in common. We loved to read and write. Soon we formed what we called the Malawi Special Teacher Education Program (MASTEP) Writers Workshop. During our two-month stays at Lilongwe Teachers College over the next three years, we met almost every afternoon right after lunch. We took turns reading our writing, and critiquing each other. Our writing ranged from poetry to short fiction to feature essays. Gwazeni, Chalera and Kalonde are deceased now, but their literary and teaching spirit lives on in those of us who were touched by their genius.

By the end of the MASTEP program we had put together a literary journal containing works of poetry, fiction, essays and other types of writing. We drew inspiration from some of Malawi’s finest writers. After the initial two-week residential orientation at Lilongwe Teachers’ College, I was posted to Chikande Primary School, in Ntcheu, where I spent the rest of my teacher training. We taught during the school year, and we went into college during the Christmas, Easter and Summer vacations.

Looking back at my time in the MASTEP programme two decades later, I am very happy that I chose teaching as my profession. Well, I didn’t actually choose it over other careers. I was away at my home village in Ntcheu enjoying the summer vacation when my father saw an announcement for the MASTEP programme in the newspaper. He cut it out and mailed it to me, advising me to apply for it. My father, a police officer of many years, believed that I would make a better teacher than a policeman. He thought my mother was an excellent primary school teacher, and I could tell he respected teachers more than he respected any other profession.

Teaching gave me a start in my professional life, and I have grown to see the world from the perspective of a teacher and the role teachers play in building a society. Even as I have developed other professional habits, teaching has always been at the centre, from the knowledge production aspects around a particular practice, to the dissemination and utilisation of that knowledge for broader social purposes.

Over the years I have had many wondeful teachers, at various levels of the educational system. Mrs Kajawo was my first ever teacher in Standard One at Police Primary School, and in Standard Two Mrs Saiwa and Mrs Mwenelupembe were my teachers. These wonderful teachers guided my earlierst attempts at reading, writing and numeracy. In secondary school, two teachers stand out, mostly for their encouragement, through actions mostly, on the importance of reading widely and writing seriously. I started thinking of myself as a writer when I was Form Two at Nankhunda Seminary in Zomba. In Form Three our English teacher was Fr. Lawrence Mlenga, and he easily noticed how I enjoyed writing. I did my Form Four at Police Secondary School in Zomba, and there it was again an English teacher who stood out. Mr Lot Dzonzi, now Commissioner of Police, introduced a Writers’ Board, and encouraged us to write and post our stories there. In addition to being my English teacher, he was also patron of the drama group, and we ended up at number three at the 1989 ATEM national grand finals. Police Secondary School later won the national championship. By then I had finished my Form Four and left.

Mr Dzonzi went beyond the call of duty. He took personal books from his library, which were not even on the exam sylabus, and gave them to his students to read. One such book was Ngugi wa Thiong’os Devil on the Cross, which I read right after I finished Form Four. Another one was Athol Fugard’s published play Sizwe Bansi is Dead. After the MSCE exams, he took me to the homes of Wokomaatani Malunga and Garton Kamchedzera, where he introduced me to these Malawian literary luminaries and encouraged me to follow in their footsteps. It was these steps that later led to my becoming a non-university member of the Chancellor College Writers Workshop, which later led to many other writing ventures, two decades later.

I recently wrote about spending six months in 2004 visiting schools and talking to Malawian teachers about prospects for peace education in Malawi. For me those six months epitomised the coming full circle of teaching, writing and national aspirations. As a classroom teacher, I remember feeling respected by the village community around Chikande in Ntcheu, while learning how unappreciated teachers were by the authorities. My school visits and talks with teachers in 2004 revealed to me new depths in the anger and frustrations many Malawian teachers feel, especially in primary schools. This is no secret to anyone who studies Malawian schools. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has highlighted the problem of teacher morale and frustration in its 2008 National Strategy For Teacher Education and Development (NSTED). The NSTED document has offered practical recommendations for teacher development policy to enhance the lives of teachers and thereby promote teacher performance in Malawian schools.

No clause in the NSTED strategy holds more potential for the revitalization of the Malawian school system than the recommendation to introduce an accreditation programme to offer teachers a path for career advancement through classroom performance. The NSTED proposes that the accreditation programme be tied to collaboration between teacher training colleges and universities, and be supported by equipping Teacher Development Centres with modern technology and Internet connectivity. 

The NSTED is a far-sighted, comprehensive educational policy recommendation that has the potential to transform teacher education and school performance in Malawi. If it can become widely publicised so that every teacher and educator in the country knows what the teacher policy is, Malawi will have embarked on the road to revamping the educational system and to a more meaningful approach that goes beyond Millennium Development Goal Number Two, Universal Primary Education by 2015. As many educators understand, it is one thing to achieve universal primary enrollment, but it is quite another to provide those children a quality, meaningful and relevant education.

As has been observed by Bob Moon, founding director of the Teacher Education in Sub-Sharan Africa (TESSA) programme, the MDGs do not mention teachers, an oversight that can potentially stall progress and development in any country. During the BBC’s MDGs panel discussion in New York last week, President Bingu wa Mutharika told the audience that the MDGs missed the “supply side” of the equation. The MDGs, said Professor Mutharika, said nothing about the teachers that would be needed to train the children being targetted for Universal Primary Enrollment. Bringing teachers into the strategy calls for massive investments into not only teacher recruitment, but also sustained, long-term research into how to train and develop excellent teachers. As of now we do not have that kind of research in Malawi, a consequence of not involving the university establishment in the education of primary school teachers.

For the school experience of children to have relevance beyond universal enrollment, we need to not only address chronic teacher shortages, we also need to realign teacher education with the needs of a 21st century society. We need to broaden the discussion on how effective it is to offer teachers a two-year education, with none of our universities taking an active, leading role in teacher education and curriculum research. We need to seriously think of how to motivate teachers beyond cash emoluments and higher qualifications.

Several of us have started a discussion on how to develop an annual Teacher of the Year Award, along the lines of the end of year awards organizations such as the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation run. We are having this discussion using online tools that are increasingly becoming more accessible here in Malawi. In the coming years it will be possible for many teachers to access the Internet, as some teachers have already taken the initiative, on their own, to open email accounts.

To create space for discussing teachers’ issues and share information and developments about education in Malawi and beyond, a number of us recently started a google online forum, called Bwalo la Aphunzitsi. It is located at http://groups.google.mw/group/bwalo-la-aphunzitsi. To join, send an email to bwalolaaphunzitsi@gmail.com, and be a part of the important discourse envisioning Malawi’s teaching profession for the 21st century. 

Youth, Leadership and Nonviolence: A Global Education Imperative

This article first appeared in The Nation on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, and also in Pambazuka News.

In the early hours of Tuesday November 30th a group of students at Viphya Private Secondary School in the city of Mzuzu in northern Malawi fought one another, and destroyed school property worth millions of kwacha. Police came to the scene just before dawn and arrested 54 students, 17 of them girls, according to Zodiak Broadcasting Station. It is not clear what caused the violence, but school authorities have dismissed suggestions that it stemmed from frustrations to do with poor sanitation, lack of entertainment, and poor diet, according to The Nation newspaper (December 1, 2010). The violence that erupted at Viphya Private Secondary school on this night raises questions of the type of education offered to young people in Malawi, Africa and around the world. Of pertinence here is the concept of global education, celebrated around the world the week of Monday November 15th ending Friday November 19th. The theme for this year was “Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World.”

I spent one afternoon that week with students of Maghemo Secondary School, in the northern district of Karonga, near the Malawi-Tanzania border. Our discussion was guided by the question of what the term “Global Education” meant, and why the theme, “Peace and Nonviolence,” was relevant to Malawi and to the world.

This was the first time I was interacting with Malawian secondary school students in a discussion setting probably since I left secondary school back in 1989. I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. The students were in the mood for more questions and discussion, I had to be pried away from the classroom so as to go and attend to other duties that had brought me to the lakeshore district of Karonga in the first place.

What did these students understand by the term “Global Education?” I asked. “An education about the entire world,” they answered. How about “Peace and Nonviolence”?  “Settling issues without resorting to violence,” came the answer. These are students who are “glocally” conscious. They know about world wars and current wars around the world, and they know about sensitive issues affecting Malawians today. In their questions about peace in Malawi, they wanted to know how the controversy surrounding the quota issue in university selection could be settled using nonviolent methods. Malawi’s president, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika directed early in 2010 that selection of students into Malawi’s two public universities should be based on a quota for each of the country’s 34 education districts. The directive was seen as controversial, and triggered a massive debate in Malawi. It was welcomed by Malawians who felt that university selection favoured specific districts and disenfranchised others. But it angered Malawians who feared that the quota system would deny high scoring students a place in the university in favour of students who did not score as highly, but made the quota for their district.

Equally troubling to the students who came to the meeting at Maghemo was the manner in which the ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was using the state broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, in unfairly campaigning for the president’s brother, Professor Peter Mutharika, for the 2014 presidential elections. Were there nonviolent methods that could be adopted to address these problems, they wanted to know.

These students were aware of the role of nonviolent action in recent Malawian politics, including the role played by pastoral letters issued by Catholic bishops. On March 8, 1992 Malawi’s Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter addressing political and social problems in Malawi, under the one party government of the Malawi Congress Party and then life president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. The letter opened the floodgates of pent up frustrations, which forced out Dr. Banda and his party in the 1994 elections. It was a largely peaceful, nonviolent transition from dictatorship to multiparty democracy.

At least one of the students at Meghemo knew about Mahtma Gandhi, the man whose philosophy of Satyagraha gave the world the concept of nonviolence that guides peaceful mass action in various parts of the world today. They knew about how violence is too often the first rather than the last resort. They listed religious, emotional, political and gender violence, and expressed the conviction that they, as students, had a role to play in teaching nonviolence to their colleagues and to their communities. They promised to start a peace club, whose name would come from the word for ‘peace’ in one of the languages spoken in their area.

If there is one thing that ought to inspire and give hope about the future of Malawi, it should be the sight of young Malawians engaging with the difficult issues of the day. I met these young Malawians barely two days after party youths in the capital city, Lilongwe had threatened violent action against a Malawian journalist who had asked President Bingu wa Mutharika questions they deemed to be ‘tough’ upon his arrival from a state visit to India and the G-20 summit in South Korea. The president arrived at the Kamuzu International Airport on Monday November 15, and held what Sunday Times columnist Raphael Tenthani termed a “press rally”, a blend between a press conference and political rally.

The journalist, Mike Chipalasa of Blantyre Newspapers Limited, had asked the president questions about fuel shortages that had gripped the country in the president’s absence, and about a recent pastoral letter issued by the Catholic bishops. The letter was seen by supporters of the ruling party as critical of the government. The party youths had ignored the president’s own encouragement to reporters gathered at the Kamuzu International Airport, to ask any question they wanted. Even as the party youths and dancing women murmured and booed Chipalasa before he finished his questions, the president urged him on, saying, “let him continue.” The party youths descended on Chipalasa after the function and threatened to beat him up. It took the intervention of the police who appeared on the scene and led Chipalasa to safety.

Columnists writing in Malawian newspapers in the wake of the airport incident were unequivocal in expressing their shock and disappointment. For many Malawians the whole episode brought back unsavoury memories of an era gone by when party youths became a law unto themselves in full view of the police and political leaders. There was a time when police officers were harrassed by party zealots, with utter impunity. For a moment, it appeared as if Malawi was on the verge of backtracking to those sad years. Another columnist, Brian Ligomeka, noted that the Malawi Police Service needed to be thanked for stepping up to the fore and asserting their responsibility to protect and restore order. Equally poignant was Tenthani’s question as to why the police arrested no one. Chipalasa himself expressed gratitude for the police action, saying it saved him from an unknown fate.

Contrasting the police action on Monday November 15th with the impunity of the past, one notices a relative distinction in the way the Malawi Police Service view their role in a supposedly “democratic” dispensation. Relative because one would have expected the police to not only prevent an act of violence, but to also apprehend whoever was threatening the violence, as Tenthani argued. But it’s a distinction nevertheless, in that this time around the police seemed to have had the sense and professional judgment to be proactive and prevent violence.

Malawians have been waiting for statements at party and government levels setting the record straight as to whether or not the kind of conduct displayed by the youths in full view of their leadership will be tolerated. Failure to set the record straight here would be interpreted by some as condoning political violence. Columnist Levi Kabwato mused in his Sunday Times column of November 21st that “the DPP is essentially the UDF (United Democratic Front), at least they share the same DNA.” It is up to the respective parties to respond and correct that perception, or keep quiet and leave no one in doubt. The advice from Tenthani, in his “Muckraking “ column tellingly titled “Tame the rascals”, was timely: “if left untamed party youths can mar a leader’s otherwise clean legacy.”  

Will it be enough to tame the youths and redirect them toward peaceful, nonviolent expressions of their views and beliefs? Or is there more that needs to be done before things revert to the dreaded past? What obtained during the era of UDF’s rule, when party youths went wild beating up opposition politicians with impunity, was not new. It was merely a perpetuation of what had obtained during the one-party regime. Youths were given the role of unthinking demagogues who guarded the ill reputation of their erstwhile masters and mistresses with reckless abandon. The airport “press rally” incident tells us there is no guarantee that those days are irretrievably gone. They could come back.

One thing we might want to do as a nation to effectively curb this tendency is to go beyond proselytising about peace and nonviolence. We seem to know little, as a nation, about the psyche that makes this kind of conduct possible. It is imperative to analyse this phenomenon by studying it, and the perpetrators too, carefully. Rather than further demonise youths who seem not to know the difference between psychophancy and critical thinking, we need to engage them in a discussion on what it means to have a free press, and to advocate freedom of expression. These are lessons that seem to have fallen by the wayside since 1992 when the bishops opened our eyes.

This ought to be a broader, national discussion on what kind of leadership we envisage for Malawi’s future, as University of Malawi political scientist Dr. Blessings Chinsinga suggested in his Sunday Times column of November 14, one day before the airport incident. Dr. Chinsinga’s call is worth repeating: “. . . there is an urgent need for a leadership revolution in all spheres of life. We need new leadership that is motivated by an ethos of trust, honour, integrity and service.” Dr. Chinsinga believes that this kind of leadership does not happen on its own accord; it needs to be propagated through proper training. He wrote that our university campuses were devoid of a “culture of critical engagement”, reduced to “welfarism”.  The effect of this was being seen in youth wings of political parties, which Dr. Chinsinga said “require an urgent reorientation of their role in politics.” He went on to call upon youth wings to exercise autonomy so as to develop their leadership potential to the highest levels of their parties’ political structures.

What I saw at Maghemo Secondary School on November 17th gave me hope that whereas “critical engagement” might indeed be dead on university campuses in Malawi, there are Malawian secondary school students ready and eager to seize the opportunity and claim their rightful place. But this will not happen on its own. It will need the support of discerning teachers, parents, the entire educational system, and the wider Malawian community. It will need learning lessons from Malawian, African and world events, with an emphasis on global social justice. The events at Viphya Private Secondary School on the morning of Tuesday November 30th happened two weeks after the commemoration of Global Education Week with its theme on peace and nonviolence for the young people of the world. Although one small isolated incident, the Viphya school violence might be instructive for schools in Malawi and elsewhere in discussing prospects for peace and nonviolence education..

While visiting India in early November, President Bingu wa Mutharika paid his respects at Mahatma Ghandi’s resting place. He was honoured with a bust of Gandhi, and was given copies of books written by Gandhi. This was a pivotal moment of the state visit, and should have a bearing on how Malawi can promote Gandhi’s ideals of peace and nonviolence. Gandhi’s genius was that nonviolence requires more courage and discipline than violence. Gandhi led a nonviolent revolution that drove the British out of India, and won independence for his country. Peace and nonviolence is also what Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, among others, have preached and practiced. It is what uMunthu teaches. The Chichewa proverb, Nkhondo siimanga mudzi (war does not build a village)—offers a Malawian perspective on nonviolence. Global education is a good starting point for peace and nonviolence for the children of the world.

Education for Liberation: Towards Academic Freedom in Malawi’s Education System

This article appears in the May-June 2011 issue of The Lamp Magazine: Christians, Politics & Culture

Since the last issue of this magazine in which we discussed professional development for primary school teachers for the coming decade (The Lamp, March-April, 2011), there has been an interesting development in Malawi’s teacher education system. Information from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) indicates plans to phase out the certificate issued to graduating primary school teachers, and in its place introduce a diploma programme in all the teacher-training colleges. Starting this coming September 2011 a new masters’ degree programme is being introduced at Mzuzu University with the aim of preparing the next cohort of lecturers in the teacher training colleges.

Elsewhere I have argued for the phasing out of diploma programmes, which delay people and consume a lot of time and money. I have argued for the adoption of straight bachelors’ degree programmes, instead. However the news from MoEST is still encouraging nevertheless. The move to a diploma programme for teachers ought to better position teacher education in Malawi to benefit from the research and scholarship that has been produced by Malawian and African academics. I discuss this point in further detail later in this article, but the main argument this article explores ponders a definition of educational quality and the goal of liberation as the ideal purpose of education in Malawi.

I argue that a definition of educational quality is incomplete unless it takes into account issues of teacher intellectual autonomy, academic freedom, and the inculcation of a social consciousness. The purpose of education in Malawi ought to be to liberate Malawian society from the various ills that impede democratic progress and development. For purposes of this discussion, academic freedom refers to a teaching and learning atmosphere that not only encourages but also facilitates critical thought and analysis on social conditions and contexts, a better understanding of root causes of problems, and reflexive solutions towards equality, uMunthu-peace, and social justice. 

Five supporting points undergird the main purpose of this article. The first point is that the current debate about academic freedom has relevance for the entire educational system and affects policy and practice at the primary and secondary levels, vocational and higher education levels, including teacher education. The second point is that the debate about academic freedom has been central to the study of higher education in Africa, and as such Malawi ought to seek guidance from what Malawian and African intellectuals have been saying about academic freedom for the past two decades. The third point is a discussion on how Malawian education has not always served the interests of Malawian society, a problem not exclusive to Malawi alone. The debate on academic freedom should lead to a rethinking of the ideal purposes of education. The fourth point probes the implications of the failure of African education systems to benefit from advances made by African scholars, while the fifth point revisits the academic atmosphere at the University of Malawi during the one-party era. The conclusion reiterates the idea of how education for liberation has propelled Malawian society from the times of John Chilembwe, through the independence struggle and the transition from one-party rule, to the present. These five points illustrate the connectedness of problems of educational quality. Together, they argue for how education for liberation can only be achieved when academic freedom is made a central concern for the entire education system.

Academic freedom and the educational system

Out of the many lamentations about the crisis that has dogged educational quality in Malawi, very little has been said about how the low expectations for primary school teachers’ education have contributed to the poor quality of teaching and learning. The quality of teaching and learning in the primary and secondary schools is part of a cycle that affects the quality of teaching and learning in the university classroom, and in the teachers’ college classroom as well. If there is a silver lining in the cloud of the current debate about academic freedom in the University of Malawi, it will be a rethinking of the relationship between intellectual autonomy and improvement of quality in the classroom at each level of the educational system. Malawian educationists argue for more intellectual autonomy for primary and secondary school teachers so as to allow for teacher creativity and imagination. Teacher intellectual autonomy cannot exist apart from academic freedom.

Commenting on the ongoing academic freedom debate, Linde Chisale has written about how the discourse on academic freedom has created the impression that academic freedom is for the university level only.[i] Says Chisale: “I am not very sure whether the assumption is that other levels of education are not intellectual”. In raising this question, Chisale is calling on Malawians to reflect on how the academic freedom debate has implications that go beyond the university classroom. Reflecting Chisale’s point, Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula told Innocent Chitosi in an interview that “academic freedom enhances the quality of education.”[ii]

These sentiments by both Chisale and Kabwila-Kapasula have precedence in several conferences and declarations African academics have held and issued over the decades, upholding the significance of academic freedom. The Preamble to the Kampala Declaration on Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility (1990) starts by saying: “Intellectual freedom in Africa is currently threatened to an unprecedented degree.” It goes on to state: “The struggle for intellectual freedom is an integral part of the struggle of our people for human rights. Just as the struggle of the African people for democracy is being generalised, so too is the struggle of African intellectual freedom intensifying.”[iii]

African intellectuals on academic freedom

The matter of academic freedom has been very close to the hearts of African academics. In 2004 the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) published a two-volume study on the state of the African university and what the agenda for the 21st century should consider. The volume was edited by Malawian scholar Professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, a leading intellectual in the study of Africa and her global Diasporas, and of the economic history of the continent.

In keeping with the wider significance of academic freedom in Africa beyond higher education institutions, Zeleza writes in his chapter in the book:

In the African context the discourse ought to be more expansive, for it is quite evident that the pursuit of academic freedom involves not only struggles against the authoritarian predilections and practices of the state, civil society, and the academy itself, but it is also an epistemological one against paradigms, theories, methodologies that inferiorise, misrepresent, and oversimplify African experiences, conditions, and realities.[iv]

Two years prior to CODESRIA’s two-volume publication, the Association of African Studies (ASA) devoted an issue of its peer-reviewed journal, African Studies Review, to the same topic of the African university, in a special issue titled ‘African Universities in Crisis and the Promotion of a Democratic Culture’ (September 2002). The introductory article in that issue is written by Francis Nyamnjoh and Nantang Jua. Nyamnjoh and Jua’s article focuses on the problems that have beset African education, both at the basic primary and secondary levels, as well as at the higher education level. The two argue that African governments have always “sought to control universities and intellectual production through physical and symbolic violence”. They suggest that Africans need to understand the form that the physical and symbolic violence has taken.[v]

Serving the interests of Europe rather than Africa

Throughout their article, Nyamnjoh and Jua use the example of Malawi’s elite secondary school, the Kamuzu Academy, as a case study of how African education has been designed to serve the interests of the West rather than of Africa. They argue that whereas education in most countries draws from the experiences and needs of their societies, in Africa it is different.  Commenting on Malawi, they write: “Western-style training at Kamuzu Academy-type institutions is not just intended to compensate for the real West where these students have not yet seen. It is seen as preparing them for Europe and North America, where they ultimately yearn to go to make use of the skills they have acquired.”[vi]

Nyamnjoh and Jua go on to argue that Africa’s educated people have little capacity to work in local communities, but are better equipped to operate “in any industrialized country, and serve any privileged community around the globe with comparative ease.” When one considers what goes on in most elite private schools in Malawi, where Malawian languages are banned and English is imposed, one begins to see the extent to which the educational preferences of elite Malawians are more aligned towards the West than towards being relevant to Malawi and to Africa. The global importance of English cannot be overemphasized, but when Malawian schools ban from school premises the speaking of languages spoken in the homes where students come from, it raises questions about priorities and purposes of education.

An education that serves the interests of its society inculcates into teachers and students what the late Brazilian educational philosopher Paulo Freire called “conscientization.” Freire defined conscientization as a process through which teachers and students develop a consciousness that makes them aware of the social problems in their community and in their world. Awareness of social problems is a first step in making education relevant in people’s lives, in their communities and in their world. Freire argued that this was the kind of education that liberated societies from conditions of oppression, empowering them to shape their own destiny. It is an education whose ultimate goal is the promotion of peace and social justice, locally and globally, ideals encapsulated in uMunthu philosophy.[vii]

Advances in African scholarship go unutilised in school curricula

The problems that hamper higher education in Africa have a ripple effect on the whole educational structure as well. In his book Manufacturing African Studies and Crises, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza has argued that “. . . there is a yawning gap between the knowledge produced by academic historians and that consumed in the schools.” In a chapter titled ‘The Production of Historical Knowledge for Schools’, Zeleza argues that “school textbooks have yet to adequately incorporate and reflect the methods, approaches and findings of modern African historiography.” He goes on to detail the specific areas where the problem manifests itself.[viii]

Most school systems no longer teach history as a stand-alone subject, incorporating it into a diffuse category called “Social Studies”. Zeleza argues that this development has diluted the teaching of history. He points out that as a result, African students “are not taught the long-term historical perspective, or the basic information about the evolution of African societies over time.” He says African historians have come to see the Social Studies curriculum “as a threat to the cultivation of historical consciousness among students.”[ix]

A more significant problem with the teaching of history, writes Zeleza, has to do with Eurocentrism, the practice of understanding the world from the perspective of European civilisation. Zeleza writes that when students learn the history of modern Europe, the focus is mostly on Europe’s apex in its historical development and “global hegemony”. When students learn about African and other civilisations, the focus is on periods of their decline and subservience to Europe. This creates in students the image of Europe as “dynamic and the fountainhead of innovations, while the rest of the world, including Africa, are static and passive recipients.”[x] As such, textbooks tend to depict Africa’s pre-colonial era as fixed and unchanging. “The term ‘traditional’ is bandied about carelessly, implying a changeless order of things.”[xi]

Another problem with the teaching of history that Zeleza highlights is that of theory. He says African history textbooks are preoccupied with dry facts without theoretical explanations to link those facts to historical interpretation. And when theoretical intepretations are attempted, they are presented as fact, rather than explanations for complex phenomenon. He says African history textbooks also lack a guiding Pan-African perspective that ought to teach African students about the ties that bind African peoples on the continent and in the Diasporas. “As a result of all this,” he writes, “the ‘meaning’ of history is lost on the students and a critical historical consciousness among them is hardly developed.”[xii] Beyond the school system, the gap between African scholarship and the school curriculum also results in the absence of a historical consciousness among the general public.[xiii]

Zeleza has gone on to lament the death of historical associations in Africa, the lack of collaboration amongst African countries (with the exception of West Africa) in curriculum development, arbitrary methods for selecting curriculum writers, and the reluctance to involve classroom teachers in curriculum development and textbook development. Future educational and curriculum reforms in Malawi and Africa would produce much more effective educational systems if they took into account insights from scholars such as Zeleza and others.

Academic freedom and university education in Malawi

In the Malawian context, the problems in the education system discussed by Zeleza are tied, in part, to problems in the university system. Problems in one section of the system have adverse effects on other parts, and solutions that treat the parts as distinct and isolated from one other stand little chance of transforming the system as a whole. The end of one-party rule in Malawi in 1994 opened a new era of soul searching and educational reform. The university was not spared the scrutiny, as Malawian academics hoped for a new era in which academic freedom would be promoted and the university would be allowed to play its role in spearheading innovation and development.[xiv] Events that have triggered the current debate serve as a reminder that the soul searching is an ongoing project that should never lose sight of what happened during the one-party era.

In the aforementioned special issue of African Studies Review (September 2002), two scholars who taught at Chancellor College during the one-party era, David Kerr and Jack Mapanje, revisit the period and describe how intellectual autonomy was proscribed. Kerr and Mapanje discuss how the intelligence services of the Banda regime planted “agents in the university to pose as students, administrators, secretaries, cleaners, and even lecturers.”[xv] In an earlier discussion, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza added that students and faculty were encouraged to inform on each other, and senior university adminstrators were co-opted into the ruling party.”[xvi]

Eight years had passed since Malawi’s democratic transtion when the special issue of the African Studies Review came out, but Kerr and Mapanje did not see much change in the way of academic freedom in the University of Malawi and elsewhere in Africa. They wrote that post-dictatorship regimes in Africa were still sought to “curb the emergence of a critical, socially responsible intelligentsia.” An atmosphere still persisted which prevented “rigorous intellectual analysis of contemporary problems.” Even with Dr. Banda vacated from the scene, the University of Malawi was still “far from achieving that principled critical quality.” Kerr and Mapanje predicted that because it “took a long time and a painful struggle to frustrate and debase the intellectual capital of Malawi,” it would likely “take a long time and much struggle to begin the task of restoring it.”[xvii] Nine years after Kerr and Mapanje made the prediction, events unfolding in the university since February 2011 show the premonition to have come to pass.

Zeleza had written earlier in 1997, in a chapter titled ‘African Social Scientists and the Struggle for Academic Freedom’ in Manufacturing African Studies and Crises,  that authoritarian structures still remained. The result was “collective self-censorship” that curtailed “the development of original and creative thought, which is a threat to autoritarian institutions.” As was the case during the one-party era, and continues to this day, as can be seen from the current debate, “the university’s bureaucrats and ossified intellectual elite are as threatened by probing thought and research as are the state functionaries.”[xviii]

Bequeathing a tradition: Conclusion

As Malawians living in the 21st century, we are beneficiaries of an intellectual tradition that has bequeathed to us an education for the liberation of our societies and of our peoples on the continent and in the Diasporas. The Reverend John Chilembwe dedicated his education to the liberation of Africans from colonial bondage, and set our nation a long path to independence. Masauko Chipembere, Catherine Chipembere, Kanyama Chiume, Vera Chirwa, Rose Chibambo and other heroes of the independence struggle also saw their education as bequeathing to them a political and ethical responsibility for the liberation of their people. It was the same intellectual tradition of education for liberation and critical thought, peace and social justice that emboldened the Catholic bishops, the late Chakufwa Chihana, the late Nyandovi-Kerr, Bakili Muluzi, Edda Chitalo, Brown Mpinganjira, and the other heroes of the transition to multi-party democracy too numerous to mention, in the early 1990s. And the struggle continues to this day, with new imperatives posing before us new challenges, for the 21st century.

Steve Sharra holds a Ph.D. in Teacher Education. He moderates Bwalo la Aphunzitsi, an online forum for Malawian teachers and educators at http://groups.google.mw/group/bwalo-la-aphunzitsi, and co-moderates BloggingMalawi, a forum for Malawian bloggers at http://groups.google.mw/group/bloggingmalawi. For more information email


[i] Linde Chisale, ‘Academic Freedom: An expanded view?’, Malawi News, 2-8 April, 2011, p. 15

[ii] Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, ‘Academic freedom enhances quality of education’, Hard Talk on Saturday, Malawi News, 2-8 April, p. 12

[iii] Kampala Declaration on Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility (1990) CODESRIA, http://www.codesria.org/spip.php?article350&lang=en&imp=1    Retrieved April 5, 2011

[iv] Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (2004) ‘Neo-liberalism and Academic Freedom,’ in African Universities in the Twenty First century: Vol 1: Liberalisation and Internationalisation Eds Zeleza & Olukoshi (Dakar, Senegal: CODESRIA) p. 60

[v] Francis Nyamnjoh & Nantang Jua, ‘African Universities in Crisis and the Promotion of a Democratic Culture: The Political Economy of Violence in African Educational Systems.’ African Studies Review 45 (2), September 2002, p. 4.

[vi] Ibid. p. 13
[vii] For a more thorough treatment of uMunthu philosophy and Africa’s future, see Harvey Sindima (1995) Africa’s Agenda: The legacy of liberalism and colonialism in the crisis of African values. Westport (CT): Greenwood Press, and Augustine Musopole (1994) Being Human in Africa: Toward an African Christian Anthropology New York: Peter Lang.

[viii] Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (1997) Manufacturing African Studies and Crises (Dakar, Senegal, CODESRIA) p. 139

[ix] Ibid. p. 151
[x] Ibid. p. 151
[xi] Ibid. p. 153
[xii] Ibid. p. 155
[xiii] Ibid. p. 156

[xiv] Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula makes a similar point in an interview with Ephraim Nyondo, when she says: “Academics need to be seen as drivers of change and not enemies of the development and betterment of Malawians.” The Nation, 30 March 2011, Political Index | Governance, p. 4
[xv] David Kerr and Jack Mapanje, ‘Academic Freedom and the University of Malawi’ African Studies Review 45 (2) September 2002, p. 79

[xvi] Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (1997) Manufacturing African Studies and Crises (Dakar, Senegal: CODESRIA) p. 27.

[xvii] Kerr and Mapanje, p. 89
[xviii] Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, p. 33

Harvesting What We Plant: Primary School Teachers & the Future of Malawi

This article appeared in the March-April, 2011 issue of The Lamp Magazine: Christians, Politics & Culture

Officials in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) have recently been touting the belief that the quality of a country’s educational system cannot be greater than the quality of its teachers. In Malawi, the default teacher education model has been two years of teacher preparation; one year of residential training in a teachers’ training college, followed by a second year of practicals in a primary school. The quality of our educational system is reflected in this model, which has existed for as long as we have been an independent country, notwithstanding slight variations over the decades. How relevant is this model, five decades later?

The unfolding discussion will explore this issue in view of what is obtaining in teacher education within the sub-region and elsewhere in the world. We will also take a closer look at the current strategy for teacher education and development, and how it has responded to a paradigm shift that has changed the concept of education for teachers. Our main interest will be how Malawi can put into action the brilliant plans expressed in the national strategy for teacher education and development.

The Malawian model for training primary school teachers is slightly different from our neighbours in the Southern African region. In some Southern Africa countries teachers are trained for three years, after which they receive a college diploma. But elsewhere in the world, the minimum qualification for a primary school teacher is a bachelors’ degree with another year of teacher certification. Teachers are then given a time period within which they are required to upgrade to a masters’ degree. Teachers who fail to attain a post-graduate qualification within the given period lose their teaching certification. In Finland, considered to have one of the best education systems in the world, the minimum qualification for a primary school teacher is a masters’ degree.[i]

Many teachers in Malawi, and even in the United States, choose teaching because they have been unable to enter other professions considered better paying and more prestigious, such as medicine, law and business. In countries such as Finland and Japan people choose to go into other professions because they have failed to secure a place in a teachers’ college. The academic requirements to become a primary school teacher in these countries are very rigorous, and the programmes are very selective. Such is the prestige of the teaching profession in Finland that only one out of ten applicants to teacher education programmes is accepted.

Here at home the NSTED[ii] has laid out a plan for how the teaching profession, as outlined in the National Education Sector Plan (NESP), should look like between 2008 and 2017. Quite a few of the NSTED’s recommendations are bold and forward-looking. Recognition of how narrow the path to promotion for primary school teachers is has led to recommendations for change. The NSTED recommends a “permanent core programme of accredited (award-bearing) professional development programmes which move from pre-service training through to training for different posts of responsibility in the education service”. For these changes to be effected across the system, the NSTED needs to outline how these opportunities can be afforded not only to teachers but to primary education advisers and teacher educators as well. We can make some bold, long-term plans on what gradual steps to take in order to move towards these goals. New models of open and distance education, combined with access to the Internet, make these goals much more feasible than before.

Malawi has moved with the times in providing structures that would enable advanced professional development for teachers. Teacher Development Centres (TDCs), introduced in the late 1990s have provided structures through which Malawian teachers may acquire ongoing professional development. Many TDCs have been embraced by school communities that have resourced them with electricity, or 12-volt batteries in areas where there is no electricity. Some TDCs have TVs, DVD players, and even computers, in a few of them. The NSTED makes a bold recommendation for all TDCs to be not only electrified, but to be equipped with computers and high speed Internet connections to facilitate continuous development for teachers’ own academic and professional growth.

Aware of many teachers who have sought advanced academic qualifications using their own initiatives, the NSTED recognizes that failure to award promotions to such teachers is often demoralising. The document recommends that teacher training colleges be linked with higher education institutions to enable teachers pursue continuous professional development leading to diplomas and degrees. MoEST has already embarked on a continuous professional development programme for all primary school teachers, but it yet to be seen how the programme will link Malawian universities and teacher training colleges to realise the NSTED recommendation.

On paper, the NSTED’s recommendations have the potential to transform the face of the teaching profession in Malawi. Followed to the letter, Malawian teachers, Primary Education Advisers (PEAs) and teacher educators would possess higher academic qualifications than is the case today. They would have opportunities for further advancement within the primary school system and teacher education programmes. All TDCs would have electricity and high speed Internet. Teachers would find it easy to open email accounts and access the Internet.

Conversations amongst Malawian educationists about the weaknesses of the educational system point to capacity issues in the mother ministry. Letters to newspaper editors and media reports catalogue on a daily basis the ministry’s failure to pay teachers on time, to pay leave grants, and to recognise hard-earned higher qualifications. Questions about the root causes of the seeming dysfunction do not yield easy answers. Acknowledgement is made of the size of the ministry, which some educationists suggest ought to be broken into two or three as is the case in other countries. Given the size of the primary school system, some have suggested that it be made a ministry on its own. Higher education has its own complications that also required the attention of a full minister and a full principal secretary, goes the suggestion.

The quality of education at the primary level affects the quality of secondary school education, which in turn affects quality at the university level, and in the management ecosystem. Teacher education has not been spared either. A 2003 study of primary teacher education in Malawi, by Demis Kunje et al, concluded that teachers’ colleges were “in an advanced state of deterioration” (p. xiv)[iii]. Kunje and company wrote that “ a combination of policy neglect, lack of maintenance, erratic and minimal funding, unstable staffing, and indifferent leadership appear to have resulted in impoverished institutionss with low morale and poor quality learning environment.” If the intervening nine years have seen a reverse of the situation, the current state of teaching and learning in Malawian schools does not reflect significant transformation. A significant problem in this regard is the large numbers of pupils in classrooms, averaging more than 150 learners per teacher in the lower classes.

No solutions can change Malawi’s classrooms overnight, but there are indications that things on the teacher education and developent front might be about to begin taking a turn. At the global level, there has been a paradigm shift from the idea of teacher training to that of teacher education, and some of MoEST’s responses reflect that shift. The old paradigm of teacher training emphasised short training programmes to impart skills, according to teacher education researcher Eleonora Villegas-Reimers.[iv] The new paradigm of teacher education embraces professional development that builds communities of practice with teachers as part of the knowledge making process. Here at home, teachers’ colleges are still being called “teacher training colleges” (TTCs).

Teacher education scholars point out that most teachers teach the way they were taught, and that changing this is a remarkable challenge. In the African context, the problem is made more acute by the dearth of research in teacher education, according to Ghanaian teacher education researcher Kwame Akyeampong[v]. This is no less true in Malawi, where the average educationist, including teachers, teacher educators and even curriculum specialists, do not have easy access to resources to enable them keep up with current research and literature, let alone contributing new knowledge through writing and publishing.

Akyeampong’s observation beckons a need for the kind of paradigm shift described by Eleonora Villegas-Reimers. The establishment of a programme for continuing professional development for teachers in Malawi will need to espouse the new paradigm in its fundamental aspects, adapting it to the needs of Malawi. We will need to start building a culture of research in teacher education, and to create professional communities of learners amongst teachers, teacher educators, primary education advisers and other educationists. Professional associations are a known way of building communities of inquiry in which practitioners group themselves according to subject matter content, share research practices, and participate in knowledge production. Professional associations would also help build a culture of collegial respect amongst educators. There are teacher educators, curriculum specialists, educational managers and supervisors who hold classroom teachers in contempt, who see teachers as beneath them. The paradigm shift we mentioned earlier ought to offer a different model of professional relations amongst colleagues.

None of this happens automatically without teachers taking the initiative and demonstrating leadership. But teachers need to be supported in their efforts to empower themselves, and take ownership of their own professional development. Malawian schools and TDCs need to have copies of relevant policy documents, so teachers and headteachers, supervisors and education managers can read them and know these policies. Schools also need to be supported with structures that should enable them take control of continuous professional development.

Visionary schools should be assisted to find ways and means of establishing libraries, book clubs, study circles, and other professional groupings. Teachers’ colleges need to participate in discussions of big ideas, through speaker and lecture series, conferences, book talks and other forums that enrich the intellect. Stakeholders such as communities, organizations and the private sector can support educational institutions in this endeavour. A programme to create national teaching awards would go a long way towards motivating teachers and other educationists to strive for excellence.

For the Malawian context, our history and our future aspirations compel us to ask ourselves some difficult questions that should be guiding teacher education and curriculum reform. What kinds of Malawians would we like to see our children growing up to become? What have been some of our greatest achievements? What have our greatest weaknesses been? What contributions would we like our country to make to global society? How would we like to handle issues of diversity (social, ethnic, cultural, racial, religious, sexuality, etc) amongst ourselves, and in our interactions on the global stage? What kind of leadership and middle management would we like to cultivate? How can we educate teachers capable of propelling this vision?

These types of questions have a place in our quest to rethink the teaching profession and how we can reshape it to guide a future Malawi. In coming up with responses, we must put the education and professional development of teachers in the forefront, knowing that the quality of our teachers is what determines the quality of our education system in Malawi.

[i] Samuel E. Abrams (2011) ‘The Children Must Play: What the United States could learn from Finland about education reform’ The New Republic January 28, 2011 Retrieved February 1, 2011

[ii] Malawi MoEST (2008). National Strategy for Teacher Education and Development
(NSTED). Lilongwe: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

[iii] Kunje D. with Lewin K. M. & Stuart J. S. (2002) ‘Primary Teacher Education in Malawi:
Insights into Practice and Policy’ MUSTER Research Report No 3, Centre for
International Education, University of Sussex.

[iv] Eleonora Villegas-Reimers (2003) Teacher Professional Development: An International Review of the Literature. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001330/133010e.pdf Retrieved February 2, 2011

[v] Albert K. Akyeampong (2002) ‘Reconceptualising Teacher Education in the Sub-saharan African Context’ Journal of International Co-operation in Education, 5 (1). pp. 11-30.