Monday, April 22, 2024

From “connect to excellence” to connect to mediocrity: Case of University of Malawi’s long holiday

Sajidu- Unima Vice Chancellor

The news awash in the local media that the University of Malawi has decided to grant its continuing students a five-month holiday is disturbing to all Malawians who want our country to be progressing and not to be retrogressing.

It goes without saying that the university which houses top brains, the professors and doctors must be a beacon of excellence in whatever they do. The university must set the pace of being innovative and ingenious. The decision-making process must always be consensus and indeed participatory and not dictatorial, arbitrary, and out of whims.

For starters, the student body of the University of Malawi has petitioned the Registrar of the university asking the management of the university to suspend the ‘unreasonable’ academic calendar they have released and demanding them to go back to the drawing board and re-draw the academic calendar together with the students arguing that the five-month holiday they have imposed to the continuing students is a waste of time and will impact on the period they will take to graduate following the almost one-year covid-19 closure of schools last year.

The above is agreeable. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malawi, Professor Samson Sajidu, the board of the University, and the management of the University, must embody the spirit of excellence that they claim they have in their motto when they say ‘connect to excellence.’

In project management, the university teaches the need to finish any project in record time. When making decisions that will affect lots of stakeholders, the university teaches us to consult all stakeholders so they can factor in their views when making the decision. For instance, the Ministry of Finance, it appears, got the point for consultation when it comes to formulating the national budget very clear as they consult different stakeholders when doing so.

Contrasting with the University of Malawi, which has a horde of Professors skilled in criticizing the government for its mishap, they do the opposite. A complete holier than though attitude. Hypocrites.

The petition by the University’s student body, so it is suggesting, that the University did not consult the student body for its input. They simply imposed the academic calendar on the students. Who does that?

The student’s petition lamented that they spent closer to a year during the politically motivated covid-19 school closures and they argue that they do not want to do a four-year degree program in 7 years which has been the case at this institution. This argument, in our view, makes sense. One would understand the covid 19 scenario but would hasten to add that the time which was lost during the covid-19 closure ought to be compensated somehow by making sure that the university is effectively utilizing time. On the contrary, it looks like the university is so insensitive and is bent on adding salt to the injury by unreasonably prolonging the time the students are to be on holiday and therefore prolonging the time for the students to finish their degrees.

It’s a shame to the university for surely this is not a mark of excellence but mediocrity. In this day and age, learning is not restricted to being physically on campus. Universities the world over are offering studies virtually on the internet. Times have changed and there are many innovative ways the university can adopt from comparable universities on how they can go about learning in these modern times.

The University of Malawi is notoriously known for being careless and insensitive in managing time by offering four-year degree programs in seven to eight years due to mediocrities and management misfirings as evidenced in this case. We call upon the Board of the University, the University Vice-Chancellor and its management, Deans, Heads of Departments, and the Student body representatives to bang heads and reverse this national shame. You are yet to be a beacon of excellence for people to connect to. You are a beacon of mediocrity and you should all feel ashamed especially when we read in the newspapers and watch on television and listen on radio stations your professors criticize the government as if you guys lead by example yourselves. Put your house in order.




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