More than 2,000 people attended the official inauguration of Dowa Teacher Training College in Matanda, Malawi. The college was built through a unique public-private partnership involving Planet Aid, the Malawi Government’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, DAPP Malawi, and the Government of Finland. This new training facility will satisfy an urgent need for qualified educators and bring Malawi closer to meeting the U.N. Millennial Development Goal of universal primary education. The Guest of Honor in attendance was the Honorable Khumbo Kachali, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi. In his speech, the Vice President said, “Education is key to the development of human capital which is the basis of economic development. Countries that have advanced economically have done so because they have consistently and constantly invested in the development of human capital. Indeed it is only countries that have developed human capital that can effectively meet the challenges of today’s competitive world economy.”
Among the dignitaries that gave speeches as the day progressed was Jeanine Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi. In her speech, Ambassador Jackson stressed the importance of education through a proverb she shared: “maphunziro ndi mphamvu” (knowledge is power). She continued by saying, “These colleges serve as a testament to the strong cooperation and growing partnership between the United States and Malawi. They reflect [our] shared commitment to quality education and the promise of a prosperous future for Malawians.” The Government of Malawi recognizes that the teacher training colleges being established by Planet Aid and DAPP are models of educational development and thus signed a cooperative agreement to establish and operate a total of six such teacher-training colleges nationwide by 2017. These colleges will train 1,000 primary school teachers on an annual basis. The Dowa Teacher Training College is the third of the six, following others at Chilangoma and Amalika. More than 850 students have graduated from the colleges since the beginning and close to 800 are currently under training. A fourth college at Mzimba is well underway and is anticipated to open in early 2013. The DAPP colleges have been purposely located in rural communities, thus facilitating recruitment of students from these areas and helping spur rural development. The colleges serve as meeting places for those who live near them and promote productive partnerships between the college, its students, the surrounding schools and the people in the community. Besides being trained in line with Malawi’s National Curriculum for teachers, students at the DAPP teacher-training colleges are also taught to function as development agents in the rural communities where they work. While they learn the skills to provide quality education at the college, they are also educated in entrepreneurship, women’s advocacy, health and hygiene, and community leadership. The graduate students are viewed by many as role models for future generations.