Policy and Programs Program and Sector policy
Policy and Programs

Domasi College of Education

While collecting information for this global distance education network, SAIDE held several interviews with organisations in Southern African countries. Impressions of each country were generated to give some introduction to distance education and technology use in the area. Each interview has also been written up separately as a case study.

SAIDE country visits conducted in 1999

Permission granted

Interview with Dr Simeon A. Hau (Principal) and Mr Elias W. J. Chakwere (Deputy Principal)

13 July 1999


Domasi College of Education is a government institution that was established by the Ministry of Education in 1993 to train secondary school teachers to alleviate the shortage of teachers in secondary schools in Malawi. The College became operational in 1994 with thirty-two professional staff members and seventy-two administrative and support staff members. In 1999, the College has thirty-six professional staff members. Since its establishment, the College has trained approximately 700 teachers.

The College has the capacity to accommodate 540 students, with 180 places reserved for new intakes each year. The College comprises of three faculties (Education, Science and Humanities).

Processes are underway that may open up the possibility for the College to offer degree programmes in addition to diploma programmes in the near future.

Mission Statement and Objectives of the College

In its mission statement, the Domasi College of Education commits itself to:

  • Training secondary school teachers who can make a positive contribution to national development;
  • Instilling in its students attributes which are necessary for social and economic growth;
  • Making education a lifelong activity.

In addition to the training of secondary school teachers up to diploma level, the College also offers a consultancy service and undertakes a range of research and evaluation projects. The College has three broad objectives:

  • To make a contribution towards alleviating the shortage of secondary school teachers in Malawi;
  • To undertake training of secondary school teachers;
  • To upgrade T2 (primary school) teachers to diploma teachers to teach in secondary schools.

Proposed Distance Education Programme

In light of expansions in the schooling sector since 29 September 1994, when the government proclaimed free primary education, Domasi College of Education realized that there was a need to open up more places for training of secondary school teachers. As both this College and the University of Malawi (Chancellor College) had no more capacity, a proposal was submitted to the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in August 1998 for support for what is called the Diploma in Education through Distance Education Project.

Initially, it was thought that a pilot project should focus on the training of T2 (primary school) teachers who are currently teaching in secondary schools. In January 1999, there were 3 100 T2 teachers who were teaching at secondary schools, and it was estimated that it would take approximately five to seven years to complete training of this group of teachers.

Materials Development

COL funded the training of professional staff in materials writing for distance education, and the development of materials has commenced. Materials for the first year of the programme should be completed by December 1999. It is hoped that the first cohort of 400 students will enrol in March 2000. It is planned that the full set of second year materials will be completed by October 200 and that all materials for the three-year course should be ready by June 2001.

Lecturers at the College are offered an incentive in the form of a small payment for developing materials. Staff morale is high as lecturers are excited about the new developments and regards it as a professional development opportunity.

Mode of Delivery

Delivery of the programme will take place primarily through the use of self-instructional print-based materials. The programme will, however, have a residential component of three to six weeks per year. This will take place during school holidays in the period between October and December, when the College is normally closed. It is planned that College lecturers will receive additional remuneration for working during this time.

The proposal also entails the establishment of regional learning centres (one each in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu) where students will receive some form of face-to-face teaching and tutorial support. Materials will also be dispatched from these centres. It is not envisaged that new premises will be erected for this purpose, but rather that the College will share premises with other organizations. The Ministry of Education will be approached for assistance in this regard.

It is envisaged that students complete the programme over a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years.

Use of Technology

As infrastructure in Malawi is not well developed, materials will be print-based. There is concern about the reliability of postal services in the country. As a result, programme planners work on the assumption that the dissemination of the materials will be the responsibility of the College itself, and that provision for that should be made in planning the distance education programme.


Whereas the Commonwealth of Learning has pledged its support for the development of the materials, the College is still exploring various avenues for securing funding for the implementation phase of the programme. It seems that the future of the project would largely depend on whether or not the College is successful in this regard.

Issues for further discussion

The College plans to enter into discussions with the Director: Method Advisory Services, Mr J.B. Matola about a possible partnership between the College and the Ministry with regard to the supervision of teachers in schools.

Assessment in the face-to-face provision of this programme consists of a 40% continuous assessment component with an examination at the end of each year that counts 60% of the final mark. Course planners feel that whereas a continuous assessment model is desirable, such a model may present administrative difficulties. Discussions are taking place to find innovative ways of addressing these concerns.

Issues around identifying examination centres and organizing examinations were also highlighted as of some concern to staff.

Future of the College

After completion of the pilot project, the College plans to re-evaluate its position on distance education provision, and to consider incorporating a distance component into its formal programme, thereby officially becoming a dual mode institution. In addition, the College is also exploring the possibilities of offering training opportunities to teachers in private secondary education.

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