Reducing poverty and developing socio-economic prosperity—these are the purposes of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Malawi TEVET project, and also the aspirations of the Government of Malawi. Improving the development and delivery of relevant programs that provide students with knowledge and skills which lead to employment and reforming institutional management and human resources training processes, have been identified as a means to this end. Dr. Abu Bockarie, Canadian Project Director, says, “I see TEVET system agencies and institutions as frontline ‘warriors’ in the struggle for socio-economic development and poverty reduction in Malawi.”
There are a great number of collaborating partners involved in the project. In Malawi, the University of Malawi Polytechnic is the lead partner, and the collaborating partners are: the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST); the Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational, Education and Training Authority (TEVETA); the Forum of African Women Educationalists of Malawi (FAWEMA); and the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI). The University of Regina (U of R) is the lead Canadian partner, and collaborative Canadian partners are: the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST); the Ranch Ehrlo Society; and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). The Project Team includes: Dr. Abu Bockarie, Canadian Project Director; Dr. Nancy Chitera , Malawi Project Manager; Mr. Grey Mang’anda, Malawi Projects Coordinator; Dr. Douglas Brown, Director, Centre for International Education and Training (CIET) and Member of the Project Steering Committee; Dr. Barbara McNeil, Member of the Project Steering Committee, Ms. Elaine McNeil, Project Manager; and, Ms. Carla Johnson, Financial Administrator (SIDRU).
The project includes activities such as strategic planning; designing and implementing leadership and management training, a certificate for distance learning, the revision of the curricula for an undergraduate degree program in technical and vocational education; establishment of a graduate degree program in technical and vocational education, the and establishment of a TEVET Policy Research Unit.
Dr. Rosetta Khalideen, formerly the director of Adult Education and Human Resources Training (U of R) and currently the Dean of Professional Studies (UFV), says, “Interspersed within the project are activities that would allow us to address CIDA’s cross-cutting themes of HIV Aids, gender inequities, and protection of the environment. Malawi faces many challenges in terms of these concerns and we are hopeful that some of the actions in the project would have an impact on these problems.”
Since the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, secured the CIDA UPCD Tier 1 grant in June 2008 for the amount of $3,790,981 over 6 years, the Project Team has undertaken a variety of activities in the preparation and implementation of years 1, 2, and 3 goals. The main activities were:
- A Strategic Planning Training workshop was held in Year 1 to develop skills in strategic planning, and in Year 2, revisions were made to the Strategic Plan (SP) to incorporate stakeholder priorities. The workshop was followed by revisions to the project implementation plan (PIP) to incorporate the new priorities.
- A “Needs Analysis” survey of TEVET managers and potential managers was undertaken in Year 1 to determine topics for the twice yearly TEVET Management Development seminars which began in Year 2. The first two management development seminars were held in Malawi. The two topics were: Communications in Organizations facilitated by Dr. Manual Kazembe, a Malawian consultant, and Leadership and Supervision in Organizations facilitated by Dr. Rosetta Khalideen. Two other topics were delivered in Year 3. They were: Financial Management facilitated by Ms. Devon Anderson and Public Relations facilitated by Dr. Manuel Kazembe. Another seminar is scheduled for January 2011, and the topics for that seminar are Strategic Planning and Public sector Management.
- In Year 1, a 4-day Program and Curriculum Revision workshop was held. This project was combined with crosscutting goals for gender and human rights issues as well as the HIV/AIDS. In Year 2, five TEVET managers and three faculty members from the Department of Technical Education at the Polytechnic embarked on a study tour to Canada for meetings and presentations on policy making and implementation as well as curriculum redevelopment and renewal.
- In Year 1, a focus group meeting of key TEVET system representatives to discuss and determine the role, mandate, staffing, financing, etc. of the new TEVET Policy Research Unit to be established at the Polytechnic was held. To participate in meetings regarding the development of a research unit, five participants conducted a study tour to two South African universities and two faculty members from the Polytechnic conducted a technical mission to Canada in Year 2.
March 31, 2011 ends Year 3, and that date marks the mid-way point of this 6-year project. We are pleased to report some milestones or success stories, which include:
- The publication of a 5-year Strategic Plan (SP) for the Polytechnic (2010-2015). The Plan was formally launched in July 2010, and implementation started in fall 2010. The Polytechnic has established a committee to monitor the implementation of the SP, and a mid-term review is scheduled for some time in 2013.
- The review of the curricular of two undergraduate degree programs in the Department of Technical Education is complete, and the document has been forwarded to the University of Malawi Senate for approval.
- A TEVET Policy Research Unit has been established at the Polytechnic. The Unit is collaborating with TEVETA on a countrywide TEVET based research. Our hope is for the Unit to become a Center by the time the project ends in 2014.
- Several faculty members at the Polytechnic have embarked on study tours to Canada and South Africa. The tours have focused on a variety of issues, including curriculum, learning, and instruction; policy; gender; research; and the establishment of a graduate degree program in technical and vocational education. The broad goal of the study tours is to contribute toward capacity building within the TEVET system in Malawi.
- A number of workshops for faculty members at the Polytechnic and other TEVET partners have been held in Malawi. The workshops dealt with several topics, including curriculum, learning, and instruction; distance education, database development and access, etc. Like the study tours, the broad goal of the workshops is to contribute toward capacity building within the TEVET system in Malawi.
- A strengthened collaboration among TEVET partners through project activities, like the policy dialogue meetings, has helped to foster a spirit of cooperation among them.
A key challenge has been staff changes, but such challenges are typical in projects such as ours. The staff changes have often resulted in delays in the submission of project reports to CIDA. However, both the Polytechnic and University of Regina have quite often addressed staff changes almost immediately to ensure minimal disruption to the implementation of project activities. A good example of this effort relates to the recent hiring of Dr. Nancy Chitera as Manager of the TEVET Reform Project at the Polytechnic.
The Project Team has begun to plan for the implementation of Year 4 of the project. The Year 4 project activities include the establishment of a graduate degree program in the Department of Technical Education, the adaptation of the courses for the Malawi Certificate of Education to a print-based distance delivery format, the reintroduction of technical subjects in the senior primary school curricular, and planning for a major TEVET international conference in Year 5.
The Project Teams in Canada and Malawi are excited about the possible visit to Malawi of the UofR President and Vice Chancellor as well as the Chair of the Board of Governors in May 2011. Both teams see in the visit some opportunity for further collaboration between the UofR and the Polytechnic.
For all collaborators involved with the project, it is an important educational initiative and a valuable experience. The project has now taken take shape, even though there is still much to be done. It is hoped that, over the remaining 3 years of the project, significant improvements will be made, resulting in improved socio-economic conditions in Malawi.