Development of Quality Assurance Management Systems in higher education in Malawi

A capacity building workshop on Development of Quality Management Systems based on the International Organization for Standardization was held in March 2021 to improve quality assurance within the higher education subsector in Malawi, by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), an implementing partner of UNESCO-Shenzhen Project. With the organization of the workshop, the project was successfully concluded in Malawi.

The five-day workshop was facilitated by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), and trained Quality Assurance Professionals from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), NCHE and the Ministry of Education on ISO 9001:2015, a set of criteria and requirements in meeting international standards of quality.

Dr. Adamson Thengolose, the NCHE’s Quality Assurance Manager (Academic), underlined that the training was crucial in enabling improvements on quality assurance within the higher education subsector by equipping participants with knowledge and skills on the development of quality assurance systems in HEIs.

Mrs. Ellin Rambiki, Chief Education Officer responsible for higher education at the Ministry of Education, commended on the UNESCO-Shenzhen Funds-in-Trust and NCHE for taking the initiative towards capacity building for the promotion of quality in HEIs. “When I look at this training, I look at the Ministry’s aspirations in the National Education Sector Improvement Plan for 2020-2030, where within the thematic areas, the focus is looking at issues of quality, and how the Ministry can improve quality, relevance, governance as well as management. So, when I look at this capacity building workshop on quality management systems, it fits well within the aspirations of the Ministry.”

Participants from HEIs demonstrated high-level of engagement and interests in the training, stressing that this would result in their reworking and upgrading quality processes in their institutions.

Mr. Flemmings Nkhandwe, Quality Assurance Director at the University of Livingstonia, said that the training serves to help the university to improve their services to international standards. “We have the quality policy; we have the resources and we have the leadership, but this training is bringing in more insight on how to coordinate all these things in terms of quality. It would be difficult for us to understand such processes and to reach international standards without this training,” he said.

Professor Kayambazinthu, Acting Quality Assurance Director for Chancellor College shared the same sentiments adding that she felt that the training is timely in addressing the lack of a comprehensive quality management system in most institutions.

“We know a number of things including tools for quality assurance but putting them together the way ISO 9001 has done is very helpful. It has given us steps on how we can deal with the issue of developing a quality management system when we go back to our institutions. It is a very important training,” Professor Kayambazinthu stated.

The training serves as the beginning for not only the development and implementation of quality assurance and management systems, but it will also allow HEIs to apply for ISO certification. Many HEIs in Malawi are in the process of strengthening their quality assurance systems to match international standards in quality assurance in higher education.

In his remarks, Mr. Elias Fredrick Selengo, UNESCO Shenzhen Malawi Project Focal Person expressed gratitude with the positive impact the Project has brought to Malawi, “the capacity building workshops under this Project ranging from curriculum development, guidelines for internal quality assurance, development of quality assurance handbook, and Quality Management Systems Development, not mentioning international workshops have provided participants with requisite competencies to inculcate a culture of quality and quality assurance systems in higher education institutions in Malawi.”

Mr. Selengo added: “Most higher education institutions are now receptive to develop and implement quality assurance systems in their institutions which was not the case before the Project. I am therefore very grateful to UNESCO for including Malawi as one of the beneficiary participants and it is my plea that they will come up with similar project for a continued and consistent strengthening of quality assurance systems in HEIs.”

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