Online Learning Widens Access to Malawi’s Higher Education
The introduction of online courses by some of the country’s public universities has widened access to higher education for many of the country’s youths who could not get direct enrollment to the colleges due to limited space.
Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) Dean of Engineering, Dr. Gregory Gamula, said this on Monday during the orientation of 189 students selected for a Certificate in Electrical Installation (CEI) to be delivered through a blended ODeL model.
The four-month course follows another successful CEI course in October last year whose students graduated in April this year.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of applicants from the previous cohort and this signifies the high demand for higher education which cannot be met through the normal entry face-to-face due to a number of reasons such as space,” he said.
Dr. Gamula said from 106 students who enrolled for the CEI program in October last year, 189 students had registered for the current cohort – almost doubling the first.
He, therefore, called for adherence to standards so that students graduating through ODeL programs should have the necessary competence to make a difference in various development activities of the country.
Commenting on the electrical installation course which will be delivered through the college’s Department of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Gamula said the course was necessary as it seeks to address gaps in the energy sector.
He noted that the construction sector continues to grow, creating demand for qualified electrical installers.
Dr. Gamula thanked the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for technical support to the college’s ODL programs and for providing scholarships to 167 of 189 students through the Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (SHEAMA).
SHEAMA Chief of Party, Dr. Zikani Kaunda, said learning online is now an in-thing world over and urged the students to work hard so that they can play meaningful roles in society.
“USAID’s idea is not only to increase access to higher education through these ODL programs and scholarships but to also help youths acquire skills that will make them employable and self-employed,” he said.
The CEI course is composed of online lessons where students will learn from home, one week of hands-on at MUBAS, and one month of industrial internship. After successful completion of the program, students will receive a certificate which will enable them to apply for certification from Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA).
SHEAMA, which is being implemented by Arizona State University, supports MUBAS, Mzuzu University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chancellor College, and Malawi University of Science and Technology and endeavors to develop a viable and effective ODL model with the five universities that are economically sustainable, feasible, replicable and appropriate for Malawi. It also offers scholarships targeting vulnerable rural youths from Community Day Secondary Schools.