By James Mphande
The Bingu School of Culture and Heritage (BISCH) at the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has introduced research seminars aimed at enhancing research output and collaborations within the school and beyond.
Speaking in an interview, Head of Language and Communications Studies at MUST Dr Atikonda Mtenje-Mkochi, whose departments is under BISCH, said the research seminar was held on May 30, 2019.
“This is the first of the seminar series that the School will be having in its activities. The Executive Dean of BISCH, Dr Robert Chanunkha was the first presenter and he gave a talk on music education in Malawi. Among others, Dr Chanunkha talked about the history and evolution of music education in Malawi and how as a nation we need to embrace music education that is rooted in Malawian culture and practices,” said Dr Mtenje-Mkochi.
She said the seminar was open to staff members and students under BISCH who also had the opportunity to engage the presenter and discuss the topic.
“The School will be holding more of these seminars this year and it is looking forward to more fruitful and thought provoking discussions.
Meanwhile, BISCH, which plans to open a commercial production unit for ceramics, has received equipment to kick-start the project.
According to Dr Mtenje-Mkochi, the equipment arrived in May and was bought with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“It will be crucial in teaching and learning, industrial and entrepreneurial plans at BISCH and also public engagement and outreach.
The School has also carried out a number of activities this year in all its four departments of Language and Communication Studies; Sports Sciences; Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices, and African Musicology.
For example, the Language and Communication Studies departments, among others, conducted its second curriculum development workshop to continue developing curricula for a programme it will introduce in the 2019/20 academic year.
“The workshop had linguists, communication and literature experts and stakeholders from the industry. These included those from Malawi University of Science and Technology, the Confucius Institute at University of Malawi, University of Malawi, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Malawi Judiciary and Media Institute for Southern Africa. It was a successful workshop as modules for the programme were developed and the programme name was also agreed upon. The programme document will soon be taken to the Academic School Board and finally Senate for approval,” said Dr Mtenje-Mkochi.
She also said within the same period, two academic members of staff in the department—Peter Jiyajiya and herself—published some scholarly articles.
“Mr Jiyajiya wrote an article titled ‘Language and Climate Change: Towards language of sustainability in promoting climate change mitigation in Malawi and it was published in a book edited by Filho and Leal-Arcas under University Initiatives in Climate change mitigation and adaptation. My article, titled ‘A comparative analysis of the nominal class marking system of Cisukwa, Cindali and Cilambya’, appeared in the Journal of Humanities, number 26,” said Dr Mtenje-Mkochi.
“That is not all, Mr Jiyajiya and myself have also been accepted and invited to attend and present papers at different conferences and workshops. Mr Jiyajiya will present paper at the International Conference of Ecolingustics at the University of Southern Denmark and I have been accepted to attend the training workshop on Language documentation and analysis at University of Free State, South Africa in July. I have also been invited to present a paper titled ‘Micro-variation in the reduplicative patterns of selected Malawian languages’ at the Documenting Morpho-syntactic variation workshop at University of Free State, South Africa, again in July. In November, I will be at Pardue University of Fort Wayne in the United States of Amercia where I have been invited to present a paper at the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages Perspectives Conference,” said Dr Mtenje-Mkochi.
She said within the year, the Language and Communication Studies also conducted its first ever short course on public speaking between March 25 and 29.
“The short course had 13 participants from different government and non-governmental organisations. The organisations included Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Competitions and Fair Trading Commission, Public Assets Declaration office, Agricultural Research and Extension Trust, Mulanje Vocational School of the Visually Impaired. Some entrepreneurs also attended in their personal capacities.
“The course, among others, covered topics such as Attitudes and Experience Towards Public Speaking: Types of Speeches, Characteristics of successful presentations, Being an ethical speaker, Audience research and analysis, Planning and structuring your speech, Special occasion speeches, Non-verbal communication, Using voice in public speaking, Overcoming nerves and stage frights, Verbal skills in public speaking, Tactics to influence your audience,” she said.
Meanwhile, the department is discussing possible collaborations with various institutions and organisations to strengthen its forthcoming programme in Language, Communication and Culture.
The collaborations also seek enhance links and relationships between the Language and Communications Studies department and various stakeholders.
Among others, discussions are ongoing with Association of Environmental Journalists, University of Eduardo Mondlane, Science Communication Department of Malawi-Liverpool Welcome Trust, and School of Education at Strathclyde University.