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
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
- Training secondary school teachers who can make a positive contribution to national
- Instilling in its students attributes which are necessary for social and economic
- 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
- To undertake training of secondary school teachers;
- To upgrade T2 (primary school) teachers to diploma teachers to teach in secondary
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
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.
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
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.