The Directorate’s core functions are aligned to the aspiration of Malawians as spelt out in the National Education Policy as follows:
- Provide policy direction on admission, student financial support, student academic support for retention and success in order to widen equitable access and participation in higher education;
- Provide policy direction on Quality Assurance and capacity building of academic and technical members of staff in order to enhance quality and relevance of the higher education;
- Prepare legal instruments for governing higher education institutions; and
- Ensure that public higher education institutions management is efficient and effective.
The Directorate is guided by the National Education Sector Plan/ Draft National Education Policy and its implementation plan. However, there are other sectorial policies as follows:
- Considering that there are communities in Malawi that hardly participate in higher education, there is an equitable access policy which allows public universities to reserve only 10% of the places for each district and then distribute the remaining places based on population. This ensures that enrolment into the higher education institutions is uniformly distributed and that disadvantaged communities and groups participate in higher education.
- Initially, access to higher education was limited by bed space; thus limiting the capacity for the public higher education institutions to expand access and allow more female students into the Higher Education. Consequently, Government instituted a policy whereby admission into the public universities is limited by teaching and learning space and not bed space. This means that since 2011, all students are admitted into the public universities as non-residential. However, students under Government sponsorship are provided with monthly allowance to cater for accommodation and food. Currently, the allowance is pegged at MK40,000.00 per month.
- Since 1985, students in the Public Universities (then only University of Malawi) are required to contribute towards their tuition. Nevertheless, recognizing that some of the students may not be able to afford the contribution, there is a policy to support needy students financially, and there have been various mechanisms to implement this policy with limited success on the identification of bona fide needy students and recovery system.
- Following recommendations by Malawi Institute of Management (MIM), there is a policy to outsource all non-core functions and activities in higher education so that the institutions focus on their core business that is mainly teaching, research and community service and hence improve their efficiency.
Project and Programmes
The Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has two main projects financed by developmental partners through loans/grants as follows:
- Support to Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) Project
HEST Project aims to improve the quality and relevance of skills development in Malawi for the job creation and employability of graduates. The direct beneficiaries of the project are secondary school leavers, especially female students; prospective employers of graduates from participating institutions; and society at large through TEVET institutions (Lilongwe, Nasawa, Salima and Soche Technical Colleges) and Universities/Colleges (Chancellor College, the Polytechnic and Mzuzu University).
The Project enhances ICT through provision of equipment, ODL and bandwidth; expansion of teaching and learning facilities; building human resources capacity through academic and management staff training; improving quality and relevance through labour information management system, Public Private Partnerships-PPP and curriculum reviews. The project is financed through a loan/grant from the African Development Bank amounting to US$29.45 million (US$10.95million: grant, US$15.55million: Loan, and US$2.95million: GOM as counterpart funds).The project period is five years (2012-2017).
- Skills Development Project (SDP)
The Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) prepared a Skills Development Project (SDP) for higher education institutions in 2014 with support from the World Bank. The proposed project aims at developing the skills needed for improving employment outcomes and increasing productivity among youth and underserved populations by increasing access, enhancing market relevance, and increasing the results orientation of the participating institutions.
Additionally, the project aims to strengthen capacities of the MoEST, National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Technical, Entrepreneurship and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA) and participating institutions for policy development, programme planning and implementation. The participating institutions include NCHE, TEVETA, Chancellor College, the Polytechnic, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Mzuzu University.
The project is financed through a loan/grant from the World Bank amounting to US$50 million (US$5 million: grant, US$45 million: Loan).The project period is five years (2014-2019).
- The Ministry is also participating in a World Bank funded project to build capacity in the Mining sector with the Ministry of Mines as the executing Ministry. The project is supporting development of Mining programmes at the Polytechnic and Geology programmes at Chancellor College.