STATEMENT OF THE CHANCELLOR MZUZU UNIVERSITY, MZUZU, 11TH DECEMBER 2004 speech by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika Chairman of Mzuzu University Council, Professor Terence Davis, OBE; Vice Chancellor of Mzuzu University, Prof. Peter Mwanza; The First Lady, Madame Ethel Mutharika; Rt. Hon. Dr. Cassim Chilumpha, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi and Minister of Water Development; Honourable Minister of Education, Mr. Yusuf Mwawa; Honourable Ministers; Vice Chancellor of the University of Malawi, Prof. David Rubadiri; Your Excellency, the Head of Lakeland College Project; Your Lordship Chief Justice; Honourable Members of Parliament; Your Worship, The Mayor of Mzuzu City Assembly, Prof. Egbert Chibambo; Leaders of Political Parties; Paramount Chiefs, Senior Chiefs and other Traditional Chiefs; Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of Mzuzu University Council; Management and Staff of Mzuzu University; Students; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. I am very happy to be here at Mzuzu University for the auspicious occasion when the University is awarding degrees to those who have successfully completed their degree programme. This institution is the fountain of knowledge and wisdom. It is also the source of high calibre human capital that is so vital for the economic transformation of our country. My statement to you is entitled TOWARDS A WILLED FUTURE. I have selected this topic because of its relevance to both the academic staff and the graduating students of the Mzuzu University. This will become clear shortly. I am therefore happy to be here as the Chancellor of this University to award diplomas, degrees and other awards. I see my role as that of not only awarding degrees and other awards but most importantly as the primary supporter of the institution. As such, my main mandate is to see that the institution is operating well, and producing human resources of the highest quality. It is also my role to see that the institution is run efficiently and has sufficient resources in order for it to achieve its goals. As Chancellor, I am indeed the primary advocate of the University. Therefore, I would like to pledge that I will do my very best to ensure that the University becomes established as a center of excellence in the different fields of knowledge. Mr. Chairman Mr. Vice Chancellor Honourable Ministers The graduating class of 2004 is special to me because this is my first graduation ceremony as Head of State of the Republic of Malawi. Therefore, I warmly congratulate you all on your successful completion of your degrees in the fields of Arts, Sciences, Health Sciences and Education. Let me assure you that by your achievement, you have earned the right to count yourself very fortunate to be one of the very few citizens of Malawi who have acquired good tertiary education. Of course every right has a responsibility. In that regard, your responsibility to the society is to prove to your country that you are worthy citizens. As you all know, Malawi’s most contributing factor to its underdevelopment and poverty is inadequate capacity to manage our development. You therefore must go out to contribute towards the transformation of Malawi from a country that is largely consuming and importing to one that is a producing and exporting. Everyone of you will have a significant role to play whether you are a teacher, health worker, forest scientist, information scientist or an administrator. I also congratulate the members of staff of Mzuzu University under the leadership of Chairman of Council, Professor Terence N. Davis, OBE and Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Mwanza, on your unwavering dedication to the development of the University and maintenance of high standards of excellence. Your success is manifested in that although the Mzuzu University is a new institution, it has, developed very quickly and steadily to the admiration of all of us. This university is also known throughout the world. This is despite the fact that the University is still in its infancy and is still developing the other faculties to add to the existing three. We can certainly see that the beginning has been thorough, and well organized. Thank you for a job well done. Mr. Chairman Mr. Vice Chancellor As I have said before, “the past is for us to learn from; the present is for us to manage; the future is for us to change”. In that regard, economic history has taught us that for a country to realize rapid economic transformation and development, it must invest sufficiently in education. There is no country that has made progress in socio and economic development without investing heavily in capacity building through education. There are countries in South East Asia and Latin America that were no more developed than Malawi in the mid sixties but which have made vast strides in economic development. These countries were able to achieve so much because they invested in education, science and technology: There is no other way. Therefore, for our country to achieve rapid economic and social development and to eradicate poverty, we need highly qualified and trained teachers, administrators, lawyers, planners, economists, engineers, agriculturists, foresters, agronomists, scientists, ecologists, geographers, doctors, nurses, etc. The Mzuzu University is the vehicle for this. That is why, Mr. Chairman, I have decided to organize an Education Review Conference to assess and analyse the reasons why there is such poor performance in our primary and secondary schools. Such a conference will, inter alia, make forward-looking recommendations on the following: The design of appropriate mechanisms for effective management of education; The allocation of adequate financial resources to our educational institutions; The development of national capacities and capabilities for economic and social transformation; and The matching and alignment of our education and training programmes to the needs of government, business and industrial development of our nation. At this juncture I want to commend Mzuzu University for giving priority to training teachers for secondary schools, and for focusing on environmental subjects such as forestry, energy and water and information communication technology and others. I am convinced that these are areas of greatest need in which there are wide gaps in our national capacity building programmes. Mr. Chairman Vice Chancellor Ladies and gentlemen An aspect that also pleases me immensely is that Mzuzu University is strengthening its capacity towards the rational management and development of our natural and mineral resources. It is my hope that the programmes should not end at only developing capacity for the exploitation of the resources, but they should also aim at the production of high quality finished goods that can be traded domestically and can also be exported to other countries. I would encourage you that Mzuzu University should continue to provide human resources and technology in these areas. Mr. Chairman I have noted with concern your comments on the growth of the institutions, due to inadequacy of financing. This is because hitherto we have been rhetorical when we talk of investing in education, science and technology. In fact, if we look at figures of enrolment in institutions of learning, we discover that Malawi’s population enrolled in higher education is extremely low compared to our neighbours in SADC and Africa as a whole. A UNESCO World Science Report has listed Malawi as having one of the lowest ratios of student population at higher education level in Africa. In future, we need to change this so as to increase the enrolment of students into our Universities. This, in turn, will provide adequate numbers of trained and qualified people to manage our socio- economic growth process. Mr. Chairman As I said, the future is for us to change. Therefore, as the way forward, we must find the means to ensure that the Mzuzu University achieves its planned targets. I am therefore directing that the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance should liaise with the University in order to correct the situation that has left the University stagnant with only two faculties that are partially established. The University has failed to expand because of lack of space in infrastructure. I have noted with interest that the University has a strategic plan that envisages the provision of space and facilities to handle a student population of 3,500 by 2010. This objective is both realistic and achievable. Therefore, I would like to assure you that my Government will throw its weight behind this programme because this is the sure way to achieve social and economic transformation of Malawi. To the new graduates, let me remind you that your new life in the real world has just begun. The success you will achieve will depend entirely on your own attitude to life. The way to succeed is to select the field you are interested in, know all that is to be learnt about it and work hard to achieve it. Nothing comes on a silver platter. You may be shocked to discover that this is a “man eats man” society. You may be frustrated to discover that your rights are being trampled upon. And you may be discouraged to discover that you are on your own and no one seems to care where you sleep, what you wear and what you eat. You may even feel sorry for yourself. So welcome to the real world. You can decide to be achievers, leaders and trendsetters in your own fields or you can choose to be followers and possibly losers. But I am confident that you will all succeed if you work hard. The choice is very much yours. In conclusion, I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman, the Vice Chancellor and the whole University community for your warm welcome. I and the First Lady will cherish this welcome in our hearts for all times to come. We also take this as very symbolic of my first visit to the North as President of this country. Once again, my warm congratulations and best wishes to you all for a bright future. I wish you all good luck in your endeavours. MAY GOD BLESS YOU.