With assistance from the Malawi Government and the African Development Bank through the ADB-HEST Project, the Faculty of Science organized a curriculum review workshop from 12th to 13th February 2015 at the Chancellor College’s Great Hall, with participants drawn from industries including manufacturing, commercial and business institutions; as well as some government departments and members of the Faculty. The workshop had three main objectives, namely, to promote the participation of stakeholders including industry in the development of the science curriculum to make it more relevant and responsive; to discuss with stakeholders including industry modalities for their involvement into the training of science graduates; and to get feedback from stakeholders on the performance of its graduates and what their (stakeholders’) expectations of a science graduate are. This is important for aligning the science curriculum to the needs of the industry to make it more market relevant.
Officially opening the workshop was the Vice Principal of Chancellor College, Assoc. Prof. Samson Sajidu who emphasized the importance of cooperation between the college and industry or stakeholders, and encouraged them to freely give feedback to the college on the performance of college’s graduates. He then called upon the stakeholders to participate and support the college in the training of these graduates, pointing out that we need each other; hence the university and industry must always work in partnership.
In his opening remarks, the Dean of Science Dr. Levis Eneya reiterated the Faculty’s commitment to its mission of advancing scientific and technological knowledge through engaging in student-centred and innovative research-led training that is responsive to the needs of Malawi and beyond. Therefore, the present curriculum review had been organized to make the curriculum more relevant.
Activities during the workshop involved presentations from departments on programmes; their resultant major skills; and courses that the departments offer in order to develop these skills. On their part, four stakeholder representatives gave presentations, highlighting the skills they see lacking in the Faculty’s graduates that they employ; what they expect to see in a science graduate joining the industry; and how such skills could be acquired or implemented. More thoughts and ideas were given during plenary discussions where stakeholders went into subject-specific groups, commenting on the various curricula and route maps. See the full workshop program here.
Among issues that came from stakeholders were that Faculty of Science graduates, despite being generally better compared to similar graduates from other colleges, lack practical, application, analytical and managerial skills. They also lack confidence and hardly express themselves well, yet they perform better when given the job. The stakeholders also lamented on the limited promotion activities by the Faculty and challenged it to ‘’go beyond experiments and papers and visit the industries to be seen and felt there’’ by coming up with local solutions to problems they face. They wondered why as a nation we should continue importing things.
Among proposals to consider when reviewing the curriculum were industrial attachments; courses or topics that foster critical thinking, allowing students to apply what they learn in class to real-life situations; that computing should be incorporated in every course; and re-working on the route maps to optimize subject combinations in light of the above comments and proposals. They also emphasized on the need to expose students to soft skills before they graduate.
As a way forward, the workshop agreed that the Faculty should re-work on the curriculum and route maps in light of comments and suggestions given during the workshop and present the draft revised curriculum to stakeholders again in April 2014 before taking it through various university committees for approval. It was pleasing to note that the industry is willing to accept students on attachment; and that the faculty and college should lobby for students support from industries and government incentives to companies that take in and support students on attachment, for example, tax breaks.
In his closing remarks, the Dean of Science, Dr. Eneya, thanked the stakeholders for their time and constructive contributions during the workshop. These included representatives from ESCOM, ILLOVO, NICO Technologies, Ethanol Company, National Bank of Malawi, WM Chirwa & Associates, National Commission for Science and Technology, Makoka Research Station, Parks and Wildlife, Malawi Housing Cooperation, SNDP, National Statistical Office, among many. He assured them that the Faculty will incorporate in the curriculum review the valuable comments received during this workshop. He also promised that the faculty will soon embark on promotion drive and will be visiting the stakeholders to canvass for partnerships and more support in the implementation of the Faculty’s programmes.
Chancellor College is the largest among the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi. Ever since its establishment, the college has produced graduates who have gone on to become leaders in various sectors of Malawian society.Learn More