Thursday, May 3, 2012


COLLEGE education remains the world's living hope for a better tomorrow. This is obviously the case knowing pretty well that those favoured few accessing it are, generally speaking, most assuredly destined to be refined in character, in reasoning, and in mind. Perhaps that explains why governments and non-government actors around the world have always justified, and oft-times increased, the provision of college education to their respective citizens.

Given the grand talk about the goodies of college education, it should be little wonder then that the Malawi government joined the bandwagon of governments in providing college education to its citizens.

In colleges and universities around the globe, college students are justifiably understood as a beacon of progress, a fountain of wisdom, and a worthwhile investment. To their understanding, college education does not only provide the direction for career prospects to students, but also, most importantly, the opportunities for students to experiment, develop, and nurture their genuine potential.

That is why, in most countries, getting the paper that certifies one's journey in the academic wonderland counts little; what counts more here is a person's ability to do something with that paper.

In fact, college education in the 21st century is structured in such a way that students are given enough time to discover their inner socio-psychological selves; that, after being tutored in the technical know-how of their respective courses for which they were admitted, students explore their other equally important skills such as analytical reasoning, argumentation, interpersonal relations, and negotiation.

It is interesting to note that Malawi's college education wholly adopts this 21st century college education structure. Sadly, however, a miserable number of students enrolled in its colleges and universities behave to the expectation of a 21st century student with the majority of them behaving in such a way that they defeat the whole purpose of university education.

What university of Malawi students know is what is taught in the courses of their programme of enrolment which, mostly if not always, tends to be forgotten since they mostly read for exams--reading for examinations so that they thus survive the anguish that ruthlessly comes with 'weeding'.

Little effort, if any, is made to read other non-course materials for knowledge's sake; an ignorable bunch of students attempt to join non-religious campus organizations; and very few students dare to think in critical and radical fashion.

You would be amazed, for example at the populous Chancellor College, that most of the non-religious campus organizations would have less than a unit students for a general assembly in the earliest days of the semester, and you wonder what would have kept students busy given the fact that during such times the rigors of academic life are always at its softest spot! How sad.

Expectedly, most students know their course areas but have mostly tended to face problems when it comes to presentation, logical reasoning, and argumentation. This becomes more pronounced to science students than to humanities and social sciences students. It surprises a critical mind to see this happening for one begins to ask: “...since when did presentation, logical reasoning, and argumentation become a sole province of few, selected college students?”.

College life now has changed. It is now only about how one outclasses coursemates and how refined one is in music especially HipHop and R'n'B, entertainment, and dressing, and NOT how refined one is in matching class performance, music tastes, entertainment, and dressing with equally important issues like logical reasoning, evidence-based argumentation, and captivating presentation.

Consequently, there is little debating culture in the colleges to the extent that voting for students' representatives is informed not by issues but by friendly tissues; thus, politics of personalities and not policies finds its origin not in the villages as it is always believed, but right in the academic circles where, supposedly, intellectualism is the guiding eye of all activities and practices.

This prevailing my- reading-for-only-my-course mentality perhaps explains why few college students manage to express themselves, why fewer students can manage to make a catching presentation, and why fewest college students can reason logically; but yet, on the contrary, these very same college students give arguably the best technical advice one had never hoped for.

So, do not be surprised next time you invite this author for a talk and he fails to articulate issues; and he reasons like a commoner, and he shivers due to lack of confidence and stumbles on an utterance upon an utterance. When this happens, just know that he is a Unima student who read for exams and had no time for non-course readings. And yes, he came back from college with only a paper.

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