Building capacity in curriculum development for quality assurance in higher education in Malawi


On 25-26 June, Malawi organized a workshop on Standards and Procedures in Curriculum Development and Review Process in Higher Education, launched within the framework of the UNESCO- Shenzhen Funds-in-Trust Project on “Strengthening Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa”

The Workshop, held in Mponela, brought together OVER 50 participants from 23 higher education institutions in Malawi, including Deans of public and private higher education institutions, quality assurance directors and managers, curriculum coordinators, lecturers and education administrators. Dr. Mac Jessie Mbewe, Director for Higher Education at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Malawi, Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu, Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Professor Dixie Maluwa Banda, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NCHE, and Ms. Qingling Kong, Associate Project Officer from UNESCO Headquarters, were present at the workshop.

As the first activity launched with the support of the UNESCO-Shenzhen Project in Malawi, the workshop aims to “strengthen capacity at the institutional level in curriculum development and review, leading to the enhancement of quality assurance mechanisms”, as highlighted by Mr. Elias Selengo, Project Focal Point, Quality Assurance Specialist at NCHE.

Dr. Mac Jessie Mbewe, Director for Higher Education, emphasized the fundamental value of quality curriculum in higher education institutions: “a curriculum is considered the ‘heart’ of any learning institution… if a heart has challenges, then it would be difficult to pump blood and fuel the rest of the body, just as a poorly-developed curriculum would result into incapacitating the whole functionality of institutions and its academic programmes.” The quality of curriculum is therefore critical to the quality of higher education. 

During the workshop, through training sessions, case studies, and group work, participants explored issues including curriculum planning, standards and procedures in curriculum development, review procedures, curriculum accreditation process, and the implications of curriculum on quality of higher education. Facilitated by Dr. Simeon Gwayi (Mzuzu University) and Mr. John Bisika (Chancellor College), participants were actively engaged to exchange expertise in curriculum development by drawing experiences from their respective institutions and jointly developed a template for curriculum development. The template will be finalized and validated to serve as a reference tool for new academic programmes in higher education institutions in Malawi.

Quality higher education is a national priority in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. It is regarded as a catalyst to foster a human capital resource base equipped with knowledge and skills relevant to national development. In this vein, the National Council for Higher Education was established by an act of Parliament in 2011 as the national quality assurance agency to streamline a regulatory quality assurance framework in higher education. Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu, Chief Executive Officer of NCHE, mentioned that the workshop is “an important milestone in the sense that it will contribute to the realization of one of the key policy goals for higher education in Malawi, that of ensuring quality and relevant education”.

As implementation partner of the UNESCO-Shenzhen Project, NCHE aims to implement capacity-building activities in quality curriculum development, establishment of internal quality assurance units, and development staff capacity in conducting quality assurance tasks. Through the Project, UNESCO aims to “strengthen higher education systems in Africa by supporting the development of quality assurance mechanisms. In Malawi, UNESCO is committed to support the mandate of the National Council for Higher Education in conducting quality assurance functions including registration, auditing and accreditation of higher education institutions and academic programmes,”as put by Ms. Qingling Kong, Associate Project Officer, UNESCO.

More about the UNESCO-Shenzhen Project