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NC helps develop new roadmap for Malawi’s technical education system

Over the past year, Niagara College’s Global Education and Partnerships (GEP) department collaborated on a funded project with the goal of reforming the technical education system in Malawi. As a result of NC’s efforts, the college system in Malawi has a roadmap for further reform over the coming years which will bring increased access to high quality, sustainable Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth.

In the spring of 2019, NC was awarded the contract for the project entitled “Decentralization of Governance and Management of the Technical Colleges of Malawi” through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of the larger Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP). STEP is a four-year program that aims to empower the Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training (TEVET) sector and its capacity to satisfy the economic need for professionals through the improvement of equitable and gender-balanced TEVET institutions.

Funded by the European Union and the Government of the Republic of Malawi, the project’s goal was to advise the strengthening of governance and management of TEVET regulatory bodies and training institutions. NC’s role in the project was to formulate and pilot a decentralized approach to the governance and management of seven TEVET institutions in Malawi: four national technical colleges (NTC) and three community technical colleges (CTC).

Group of Malawian officials and NC official standing in a group
The project’s goal was to advise the strengthening of governance and management of Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training (TEVET) regulatory bodies and training institutions. Pictured is the Lilongwe Technical College and the Salima Technical College board of directors training and inaugural meeting held in January 2020.

“We are helping students to think differently about employment which is evident through the initiation of several entrepreneurial activities after graduation,” said Kondwani Nyirongo, Principal of Kasama Community Technical College, one of the seven TEVET institutions NC worked with through this project. “Definitely, employment opportunities have been created. The change the community needed is starting thanks to the efforts of Niagara College.”

TEVET plays a key role in the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as vocational education is critical in achieving quality education (SDG four), gender equality (SDG five), and decent work and economic growth (SDG eight). Additionally, TEVET plays a pivotal role in developing human capital and as a result, impacts employment and national strategies.

NC was well-positioned for this project thanks to the expertise of NC staff and faculty whose experience in governance, leadership development and financial management was invaluable. NC policy and special projects advisor Kim Rose contributed to the project, drawing on her knowledge of postsecondary governance and policy.

“The thought of my work in Welland having an impact on a nation’s postsecondary system halfway around the globe was both rewarding and very cool,” said Rose. “It also reinforced my sense of how fortunate we are to have such a well-structured and accessible system in Ontario.”

“Definitely, employment opportunities have been created. The change the community needed is starting thanks to the efforts of Niagara College.”

International executive assistant Laurie MacPherson also assisted with the project and played a major role in the development of resource materials, including a governance manual for the project.

“Based on my knowledge of postsecondary governance and document formatting, I was asked to balance out the already strong NC project team,” said MacPherson. “Not only did this provide me the opportunity to expand my knowledge base, but it offered me the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation of postsecondary systems on a global scale. It was extremely satisfying to know that the work we did will help transform a nation by offering sound, easy-to-follow governance resources that will assist in Malawi’s college decentralization.”

The NC project team recommended that college management in Malawi move forward with a suggested framework called the New College Model (NCM). The framework aims to foster a proactive relationship with industry and communities with a goal to develop programs based on input from employers to meet both national and local skill priorities, contributing to the economic and social development of Malawi.

Through the project, NC supported the development of a new institutional and government framework for technical colleges, helped establish a board of governors at each of the pilot colleges, and provided strategic results-based planning, more autonomy for principals and colleges, as well as a series of recommendations to the Malawi government and other key decision-makers for expansion and long-term sustainability of the initiative. The team also developed a Greening TEVET guide to enhance environmental sustainability at the colleges.

Currently, the team is in talks to prepare a ministerial briefing for the new Government of Malawi to advise on next steps for the future of decentralization and long-term implementation of the NCM.

Board of directors meeting at a conference table
Through the project, NC supported the establishment of a board of governors at each of the pilot colleges. Pictured is Mangochi Community Technical College’s board of directors training and inaugural meeting, held in February 2020.

“Participating in the strategic planning training of board members and college principals was rewarding and eye-opening,” shared Ian Rogers, NC’s Global Education and Training manager. “The local leadership is highly engaged and motivated to offer more innovative, relevant training for the people in their communities. Our efforts to promote college decentralization have been well received, and we look forward to seeing Malawi TVET colleges operate more independently to provide more responsive training and light the spark of entrepreneurship for the students they serve.”

The project also aligned with NC’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, which highlights the College’s commitment to being globally and culturally engaged, enabling NC to further engage with and build deeper connections to communities where its students come from.

NC continues to offer global collaboration in support of economic development, quality education and gender equality in other parts of the world and has been involved in global development projects for over 25 years – most recently, in the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Jamaica, Bhutan and Vietnam.

For more information on Global Education and Partnerships and how to get involved, please visit