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26 February, 2018


ADDRESS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MALAWI, PROF JOHN D. KALENGA SAKA, DURING GRADUATION CEREMONY HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY, 2018 IN THE GREAT HALL, CHANCELLOR COLLEGE, ZOMBA

1.    Your Excellency Prof Gertrude Mutharika, First Lady of the Republic of Malawi; 
2.    The Chairman of the University of Malawi Council, Dr James Maida, and all Members of Council;
3.    The Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr Justin Saidi – Representing the Minister of Education;
4.    The Deputy University Registrar, Dr Wokomaatani Malunga and Principals of the four constituent Colleges of the University;
5.    Chairpersons of all Public Universities;
6.    The Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Higher Education;
7.    Vice Chancellors and Representatives from other public and private universities;
8.    Professors, Deans, Heads of Department and all Staff of UNIMA;
9.    The Mayor, Councillor Melia Douglas, Zomba City Council;
10.    Mr. Dyson Jangia, Chief Executive Officer, Zomba City Assembly;
11.    Mr Emmanuel Bambe, District Commissioner Zomba;
12.    Alumni Motivational Speaker, Mr. Newton Kambala;
13.    The President and members of the University of Malawi Students Union;
14.    Distinguished invited Guests;
15.    Distinguished Graduands;
16.    Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, I am very delighted and honoured to stand before you and make some remarks on this great and auspicious occasion.

Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chancellor of the University of Malawi for delegating me to preside over this Congregation. It is therefore a great and singular honour to represent His Excellency, the Chancellor. Let me also join the Chairman in welcoming the Her Excellency the First Lady, who herself is a member of the Alumni Community of this great University. Most welcome Your Excellency.

Secondly, I wish to thank the Chancellor of the University for approving the recommendation of the Council that we be appointed on a short-term basis (after end of 4- year contract) to support the transition process in the transformation of the University of Malawi. We consider this a great privilege and honour and we promise to do our best in this tour of duty. To this end, we trust that we all will together support the efficient and effective implementation of the Council’s programme of work.

Thirdly, I wish also to welcome Your Excellency, a distinguished Alumnus, all invited guests, feel free and enjoy the celebrations with the graduands, their families and all the larger University Community.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to share some remarks under the theme: ‘‘Growth of and Benchmarking in the University of Malawi.’’

Growth of the University
The growth achievements are:
Policy
i.    The new Executive of the University of Malawi Students Union will soon launch the 5-year Strategic Plan;
ii.    Gender  and ICT Policies have been approved by the Council and their operationalization is underway, and
iii.    Internationalisation, Intellectual Property Rights and Affiliation Policies are at near completion stages for consideration by Senate in this financial year.

Teaching and Learning
i.    Improvements in quality assurance systems including postgraduate and research administration- some of academic centres are reviewing the postgraduate rules and regulations to be compliant with institutional and international benchmarks;
ii.    Auburn University of the USA has provided 2 servers, installed at Chancellor College to support e-learning module development across the 4 public universities. An MOU facilitated by our parent Ministry was signed on 14 February, 2018 in Blantyre. This is towards increasing access and employability amongst the youth;
iii.    Rising presence of international students in 75% of the academic centres, and
iv.    Introduction of new and demand driven academic programmes.

Academic Scholarship and Research 
i.    Council’s approval of Centre of Excellence on Ethics  and Governance, and now being operationalized;
ii.    Further and strengthened operationalisation of World Bank African Centre of Excellence for Public Health and Herbal Medicine at the College of Medicine;
iii.    A new ACE II Project on Internet of Things involving University of Rwanda and UNIMA at Chancellor College commenced project activities;
iv.    Rising refereed publications in high impact journals and by Houses not on Beall’s list;
v.    Three academics (2 female and 1 male)  being promoted to full professors;
vi.    Two young academics at Chancellor College: Drs Tiwonge Manda and Chomora Mikeka the RUFORUM-NCST young scientists awards for their research and or innovations, and
vii.    Mr Mayamiko Nkoloma of the Polytechnic was the 2017 winner of the MBC Innovation Awards in the category of Science and Technology.

University-Industry Interface
i.    Her Excellency’s BEAM Trust provided equipment towards quality teaching, learning and students’ experience in music in the Department of Fine and Performing Art at Chancellor College;
ii.    Old Mutual, FDH bank and NICO Life supporting the VC’s Scholarship and Merit Awards (over 30 recipient students and Old Mutual supporting Endowment Chair (Actuarial Sciences);
iii.    Affiliation of Nalikule College of Education with the University, and 
iv.    Senate Review of Nursing Programmes for Malawi College of Health Sciences.

Infrastructure Expansion and Improvements
i.    Visible and attractive expansion of infrastructure at Chancellor College, College of Medicine and The Polytechnic, funded by Government and its cooperating partners. We are delighted that there are discussions to include COM and KCN in the successor phase of the Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) programme. This is most welcome and critical towards increased access to and quality of education across the University, and
ii.    Rehabilitation and maintenance works across the University through the PSIP, we appeal to all users of these facilities to care good cares for the present and future generations.

Benchmarking
According to the Business Dictionary this is defined as ‘a measurement of the quality of an organization's policies, products, programmes, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers. The objectives of benchmarking are to (i) determine what and where improvements are called for, (ii) analyze how other organizations achieve their high performance levels, and (iii) use this information to improve performance.’

We wish therefore to thank His Excellency’s Government for establishing the National Council for Higher Education under the Act of Parliament No. 15 of 2011, with the primary purpose of providing accreditation and quality assurance services in higher education institutions. Through operations of quality assurance systems, nearly 75% of the Colleges have been visited and evaluated such that we have University programmes at two Colleges dully accredited. Through this effort, improvement plans have been shared with us and corrective actions being made. Further, based on this and external examiners’ reports, we can seek PSIP funding for improving teaching and learning facilities including library resources and human capital development more convincingly. This is consistent with our individual and institutional compliance to the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Policy.

National benchmarking catalysed by the works of NCHE is expected to improve on our ranking in the higher education industry in the region and beyond. Ranking of universities is based on several parameters including:
i.    Research: quality and productivity demonstrated by number of publications, citations and awards.
ii.    Teaching: domestic and international teaching quality assessments, student feedback, national student surveys and student-faculty ratios.
iii.    Graduate employability related to surveys of employers, graduate employment rates and average graduate salaries.
iv.    Facilities: University infrastructure such as sporting and medical facilities, number of students’ societies.
v.    Internationalization: Measuredby the proportion of international students and staff, the numbers of exchange students arriving and departing, the number and strength of international partnerships with other universities and the number of graduates pursuing further study at overseas universities.
vi.    Innovation: the outputs which contribute to economy, society and culture and supporting better provision of goods and services.
vii.    Engagement: number and quality of university's contribution to its local community.
viii.    Access to scholarships and bursaries, and ensuring there are disability access and gender balance.
ix.    Environment: Stable and uninterrupted calendars to attracting and retaining international students and completion of studies within the basic cycle for academic programmes (3/4/5/6 years).

Under the current webometric rankings (The 2018 Ranking Web of Universities. January New Edition), we are at 89 having moved from 98.  I see that both the public including Media and the academy are very interested in the matter and questions abound in the local higher education forum. I hope we will do the needful so that we join sister universities of Nairobi, Makerere, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Dar es Salaam, Botswana and Zambia which are at 7, 11, 19, 21, 32, 52 and 60 respectively. Living the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Policy remains therefore a strategic priority to this end.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen
This is the first graduation ceremony for the 2016/17 academic year and we showcase our contribution to the required and rising human capital needs consistent with the National Education Sector Plan and Malawi Growth Development Strategy III. Today we rejoice and celebrate the graduation of 687 graduands (which includes 355 females, representing 51.7%), who will receive various degrees. The graduands are in various disciplines including 265 Medicine and allied professions, 242 Nursing and Midwifery, and 100 Engineering, and Applied Science at first degree levels. We will celebrate 11 distinctions and 69 credits/second class upper. Further, there are 80 higher degree (Postgraduate Diploma/Masters) graduands including 31 female candidates in various disciplines. There are 33, 23, 1 and 23 candidates from Chancellor College, College of Medicine, KCN and the Polytechnic respectively. Congratulations to the Graduands for a job well-done.

Graduands, let me urge you to reflect on three virtues in your journey as you join the world:
(i).    Learning from success. Ensure you make good use of every success, do not dwell on failures. Remember that a few of your friends started with are not here today.
(ii).    Building value. Use the qualification to create value and make a difference in the community/world. It is essential that you keep what you are.
(iii).    Following your heart.  What is your dream and are you reading widely and important literature in support of this? 
It is very important therefore to know that: if you keep on learning from your successes, always striving to build the value and following your heart, your life in this world will be long, enriching, satisfying and above all rewarding. Ensure that diligence/hardwork, commitment, patriotism, integrity and professionalism characterize whatever you do. Never, ever lose your moral compass. This entails regularly engaging in self-conversation and being independent. It will be a lot easier to think entrepreneurial for personal growth!!!
Realize that education is an investment which bears fruits consistent with quote by Craig Barrett, a former Chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation:

‘‘Investing in education and providing 21st Century skills for students are fundamental components to the nation’s continued growth and prosperity.”

Let me now conclude by thanking 
(i).    UNIMA Council for its foresight and catalytic leadership, including high-level support to our welfare;
(ii).    Parents, guardians and spouses of our graduands, for their unfailing support, without them most of the graduands would not have made it. Well done, parents, spouses and guardians.
(iii).    All partners for providing both financial and technical support towards quality and relevant education in this great University. Important examples include Global Aids Interfaith Alliance, Elma Foundation, USAID World Learning, Tertiary Education Scholarship Trust, Christian Health Association of Malawi, Bill and Melinda Gates, Ntchima Trust, SOKO Fund, National Bank of Malawi, ESCOM, Total Malawi, Dossani Trust, Standard Bank of Malawi, Old Mutual, NICO Insurance, the Alumni Community and individuals such as all of us.
(iv).    The Alumni Community for coming forward to join hand with us and most of whom are fully engaged in the UNIMA Parents Association. The Motivation speeches which started last July will add value to the personality of these and future graduands.
(v).    All staff for the hard work and hence our celebrating today: You have attested with pride what Nelson Mandela said: ‘‘Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do’’, and 
(vi).    The University Registrar and his team for a very well organized congregation, the Choir, the Band, the Media and the public ululation which is always wonderful and pleasant.

I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ATTENTION, ENJOY THE FUNCTION. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL