Does Malawian system of education prepare students for the real world?
By Joseph Loga
MANY of us students will never be what we think we are. Our father in heaven, please help me be Joseph my dog thinks I am.
Almost all students from institutions of higher learning in Malawi know that our schools are for show off, not for learning. This has been shown in the first phase of my research in Malawian colleges (2018-2025).
When our parents enroll us in school, they enroll us into a never ending sequence of competitions; to see who the best is and who can get the best grades.
The highest scores on the standardized tests, Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examination wins the most respect. Successful students make it into colleges like University of Malawi, Mzuzu University and Malawi University of Science and Technology.
All this has nothing to do with learning, and, truly, we know it all. Our parents they hardly even bother to think of what we are actually learning in school; they only care about our grades.
In my research, the hypothesis is; ‘Pass and Proceed Theory’ which states that;
“Seriously, I am telling you; exams never test intelligence; they just weigh memory. My friends, honestly, read, memorize, write and forget!
It sounds jokey and unconstructive. But this is what it is happening in our institutions of higher learning and you might also be one of the victims (Malawi as undeveloped-poorest country).
Students from most colleges in Malawi were, and are still welcome to critique or comment on this observation. Here is part of the feedback received:
“Societies are suffering at the expense of the ‘educated’ man that got the paper and forgot what they were taught,” Aaron Mboma, an Education graduate from the University of Livingstonia, said.
Joel Dzinkambani, a Third Year Student at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) agrees.
“The reason behind this is that our curriculum leaves out things that really matter out there like time management, money management, relationship management which are crucial for someone to survive in this world. Three quarter of the things that we learn in school is useless out there. It’s like the more we learn, the less we know”.
Natalia Kachoka Bukalia, a Third Year Student of Law at Catholic University of Malawi, puts it bluntly.
“We ‘pass and proceed’ to get the degree and make our parents happy,” she said.
Another student, Comfort Indunduzo Chauluka who is Chancellor College Students Union Director of Academic Affairs (2018/19) weighs in his view.
“The system of education used in colleges might be the problem. There is a lot pressure put on students to survive tertiary education in the institutions of higher learning”, Chauluka said.
If the Ministry of Education of Malawi truly wants to reduce education gap, it must design education system for learning, not for showing off.
There would be places where people could follow their own interests, learn what they wanted to learn, prepare themselves for the future the wanted. Everyone would be doing different things, at different times, so there would be no basis for comparison (highest-student, lowest-student). People would learn how to read and write when they wanted to.
“Genius is an acronym for “Geni-in-us”-the genie or magician in each of us.
Malawi needs creators. Our education system is not helping; it is teaching us students to love jobs yet it is failing to give employment.
I may assume that our leaders went to school and got a lot of credentials but they cannot use them to create better Malawi because what they did is; “pass and proceed”. They are usually happy when we call them with their titles; Doctor and Professor, yet they behave contrary to their brains.
Job hunters are not necessary to the road of developing Malawi. Our population is increasing every day; while the jobs are reducing every day.
The habit of ‘Pass and Proceed’ in our institutions of higher learning make us students to have retrogressive minds. We want to achieve immediate academic credentials by capitalizing on memory with a view of hoping to be deskbound workers.
Contrary to our expectations, the real Malawi needs no more job seekers.
Who is to blame?
A curse to Ministry of Education of Malawi: If Malawian education system was really meant to prepare us, students for the real world, why do we need to have “working experience” as a requirement for job?
“Justice is what love looks like in public”-Dr. Cornel West.