REFLECTING THE ACADEME
A time of reflection is a decisive moment. It is a time we commemorate the past, and a time we decide our future. It is a time we put ourselves in the mirror of time, and a time we ask ourselves the deepest questions of our existence.
The title of my address is “Reflecting the Academe”, because I want us to get to the bottom of your well-thought-out theme.
The theme of this occasion is very inspiring – a time for celebration and reflection!
Since it was invented by Africans in 970 AD, the university has always been driven by ideas. Writing in a book called Uses of the University, Clark Kerr
The university started as a single community – a community of masters and students. It may even be said to have a soul in the sense of a central animating principle.
Yes, a university must have a soul, its driving principle, the academic spirit. A university grows when this academic spirit grows. A university dies
when its spirit dies. This time of self-reflection must begin with the question: what is the academic spirit that characterizes and identifies us a university?
What are we known for? Or, what must we be known for in the next fifty years? Times have been when University of Malawi was a household name in the region. And we aspire to return those days when our graduates were
accepted without question in leading universities of the world. As Robert Kibbee argues, “The quality of a university is measured more by the kind of students it turns out than the kind it takes in.”
Given both our output and the role played in nation Bbuilding, University of Malawi deserves to be celebrated by all Malawians. Let us agree: this
university has done us a great service, and a great honour! And I believe the best is yet to come.
And we also agree. The University cannot continue to be the same way as it has been. It is only logical to redefine and rebrand ourselves in order to be
relevant to the future. How you do that: the choice is yours.
I am aware of the debate for the autonomy of the colleges to devolve and grow into separate universities. To be a federal system or not to be – that is the question! Decide, manage the decision and take responsibility of the destiny you aspire for.
Government cannot interfere in that debate because we respect your academic integrity and autonomy to make your decisions. The choice is
All I can say is that our Government is open minded and receptive to informed change. Our Government is not afraid of bringing change to
Malawi. You called for a transformation government, and here it is! We are ready to brave the decisions this country has always shelved and deferred. Because that is the only way to make a different Malawi, a better Malawi for all!
That is the only way to change and improve education. Not that there won’t be challenges. There will always be problems in any country at any time because this earth is not in heaven and humans are not angels.
We can only make life better, and we can certainly make Malawi better if we do our best. We cannot say we have a bleak future because we are passing
through challenging times. We cannot say we have a dark year ahead because one night has come before daybreak. Life is made up of days and nights. Likewise, I believe the University has a bright future in spite of the thick mountains of challenges you are crossing. What matters for us is to make
brave choices in deciding our new direction.
Our Government is committed to support the university in creating an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, researching and
service to community. We will continue to provide cushioning measures to afford all Malawians the chance to access university education. The Higher
Education Students Loan and Grants facility now allows needy students to apply for tuition fees and upkeep allowances as loan and/or grant.
This policy also supports public universities to finance their services in the spirit of cost-sharing as we move with current trends in higher education globally. This is the time for the change we have always aspired
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
As we move with the changing times, the University needs define itself and find its mission. We must choose what we want to be known for.
Contemporary reflections of a modern university range from being a Teaching University; a Research University; or the Entrepreneurial University – also called the Corporate University.
These conceptual categories are based on the three core functions of
a university, namely, teaching, researching and community service.
Notably, research is at the anchoring centre of the functions of a university. Research is more than collecting and recycling the scholarly views of
others. Research is about developing new ideas and new knowledge to re-engage those we teach, and the communities we serve, in calibrating new
perspectives and solutions to human situations.
Where this academic culture thrives, we do not publish for the sake of promotion, or to ascend to the professoriate. In the truest spirit of the academe, we do not publish for academic renown. We publish because we value sharing our new ideas, new knowledge, new perspectives and new solutions with the rest of mankind.
This is how academics have lighted mankind’s path of knowledge to wisdom. And celebrated are those who thirst for this sacred duty to mankind. For this is what makes academics celebrated citizens of the world. Let us all be proud of them.
As I have emphasized before, we must celebrate our teachers because “Teaching is the one profession that creates other professions.”
In the spirit of celebration and reflection, ladies and gentlemen, let us all stand up for a moment and clap hands for the academics who have performed
their duty to our society for the last fifty years.
[Standing, hand clapping]
Thank you very much. [Audience sits down]
And I thank you for your attention.
May God bless everyone and Mother Malawi!