Academicians and panelists to a discussion on teaching and learning for innovation have challenged institutions of higher learning to be innovative in delivering lessons, observing that Malawi needs innovative thinkers to ably contribute to its national development agenda.
The call was made during a stakeholder consultation and panel discussion on teaching and learning for innovation, organised by the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) on Wednesday in Blantyre.
Samson MacJessie Mbewe, director of higher education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in an interview afterwards noted that, through innovative teaching, Malawi can transform as innovative teaching would create students who would be critical thinkers, who can ably create jobs.
“The [current] type of teaching centred on memorisation does not help students to think of when they get out schools. Instead they look for jobs to apply what they memorised in school.
“We want teaching and learning institutions to change the approach to innovative teaching. Students should be challenged with problems to think of solutions to the problems not providing all the information for them. This would give them the urge to fend for themselves, ultimately creating solutions to the country’s development challenges,” he said.
One of the panelists, Wilkins Mijiga, who is National Bank of Malawi’s head of client coverage, said the bank and private sector in general—as consumers of college products—are looking for innovative ideas to help boost their businesses.
“We we want learning to reflect real life situations. Universities should challenge students to come up with innovative ideas that would help bolster the industry as this is what we are looking for,” he said.
Must vice-chancellor Professor Address Malata said the university is continuously working to improve its innovation capacity; hence, the forum which aim to establish and help the university know its weak and strong points.
She said: “Currently, we have the Innovation Scholars Programme, which aims to equip Must academic and upper administrative personnel with knowledge and skills towards the institutional strategic goals and improve the innovation ecosystem in Malawi, among others.
“However, we want to continuously improve on this programme; hence, this forum which has provided an interface for us to learn on areas we need to improve on.”
Visiting director of Innovation Scholars Programme from Michigan State University, Kurt Ritcher, said with the programme, is designed to tap entrepreneurship energy in Malawi.
He said Michigan State University believes that students in the country can create science based solutions if supported with resources.
“We believe innovation is a process not a product and we are working with Must and Lilongwe University of Natural Resources and Agriculture [Luanar] to create a system for innovation in Malawi,” he said.