About 15, 000 secondary school graduates in six selected districts countrywide have been targeted to benefit from a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded four-year project to the tune of US$10, 859, 816 (an equivalent of K8 billion).
With USAid more Malawi students have the opportunity to complete higher education
The project being implemented by Arizona State University aims at increasing access to higher education for vulnerable students .
Speaking in Mulanje on Tuesday during a stakeholders meeting, Director of Scholarships for the project titled: 'Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity,' (SHEAMA) Sellina Nkwetedza said the overall objective of the initiative is to create a skilled and employable workforce needed to boost the country's economy.
"According to a research done recently, over 80, 000 secondary school graduates annually fail to continue with their education to tertiary level because of poverty. So, with this project we are targeting this group so that they get degrees and eventually participate in the socio-economic development of the country," she said.
Nkwetedza said the initiative would be achieved through a range of activities to be undertaken within the six selected districts of Karonga, Kasungu, Salima, Balaka, Chikwawa and Mulanje.
"We are working with five Public Universities in the country. We plan to establish six Open and Distance Learning (ODL) centres, one in each district and strengthen the existing ones.
"We have 1, 188 scholarships that we plan to award to selected students who cannot afford to pay tuition fees and other accumulating expenses. We need to engage, women, girls, orphans and people with disabilities in the initiative first," Nkwetedza added.
She, therefore, disclosed that upon completing their education, students will be attached to various organizations and companies as interns to gain experience.
"We want them to have the technical expertise needed by employers so that they can add value to the skilled and employable workforce in the country," she said.
Mulanje District Labour Officer, Edward Shafi welcomed the project, saying there are a lot of vulnerable students in the district with potential to attain higher education but fail because of poverty.
He said with the introduction would enable students have the opportunity to complete higher education and find better jobs and eventually contribute to the development of the district.
The new ODL sites to be established are as follows: Nyungwe Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Karonga to be anchored by Mzuzu University, Chankhanga CDSS in Kasungu under Malawi University of Science and Technology and Msalura CDSS in Salima to be under the Polytechnic.
Ulongwe CDSS in Balaka under Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nansomba Secondary School in Mulanje to be under Malawi University of Science and Technology and Mfera CDSS in Chikwawa under Chancellor College.