MUST to introduce degree programmes under ODeL

MUST to introduce degree programmes under ODeL

After graduating two cohorts of short courses under the Open and Distance E-Learning (ODeL), Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has announced plans to roll out degree programmes under this platform to increase access to higher education.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 162 students pursuing short courses in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, GIS and Remote Sensing for Disaster Risk Management, GIS and Remote Sensing for Natural Resource Management, Geospatial Database Management and Fundamentals of GIS on December 14, 2021, executive dean for Bingu School of Culture and Heritage, Dr Robert Chanunkha, said starting next year, a Bachelor of Science in Sciences Education and Bachelor of Arts in Language, Communication and Culture will also run on ODeL.

The programmes currently running on face-to-face under generic selection, have already been advertised for prospective ODeL students.

Dr Chanunkha, who was representing Vice Chancellor Prpofessor Address Malata as guest of honour, said MUST has been encouraged by the tremendous response from students since it rolled its first courses under ODeL 2020 with support from USAID, via Arizona State University’s project, called Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (SHEAMA).

“In 2020, MUST was offering only one programme, a short course in Business Management and Entrepreneurship and we graduated 30 students. Today, we have not only increased the number of courses, but the number of students has also gone up,” said Dr Chanunkha.

“Of the 162 students receiving their certificates today, 98 were doing Business Management and Entrepreneurship; 12 doing Fundamentals of Geographic Information System (GIS); 13 doing GIS and Remote Sensing for Disaster Risk Management; 30 doing GIS and Remote Sensing for Natural Resources Management, and nine doing Geospatial Database Management.”

For MUST, this represents a remarkable achievement, hence the decision to expand the number of programmes and upgrade others from certificate to diploma and degree levels.

“MUST’s expansion of ODeL programmes is also in line with the Malawi 2063 agenda, to increase higher education access in Malawi and in addition ODeL is the way to go, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, when it has become necessary to avoid congestion in university campuses,” Dr Chanunkha said.

He attributed the success of the second cohort to the collaborative efforts of stakeholders such as USAID, Arizona State University, SHEAMA, and Ministry of Education.

The Ministry allowed MUST to use some secondary schools in Kasungu and Mulanje as satellite centres.

On her part, SHEAMA director of scholarships and grants, Dr Sellina Kanyerere-Mkweteza thanked MUST for the good collaboration that has seen many students access higher education.

She also encouraged the graduating students to ensure that use their knowledge and skills to establish businesses instead of waiting for somebody to employ them.

Of the graduating students, 93 were males and 69 females.