COSAM News Articles 2018 March Auburn University strengthens partnership with Malawi

Auburn University strengthens partnership with Malawi

Published: 03/09/2018

By: Candis Birchfield

Auburn University faculty and staff visited the African country of Malawi to strengthen ties between Auburn and Malawi public universities through the development of collaborative instruction, research, and extension programs and activities.

Malawi is currently committed to increasing the number of students in higher education though face-to-face, e-learning, and other coursework delivery modes, especially among women and girls, and Auburn University is actively supporting this effort. More than 100 Malawi faculty and administrators have completed an Auburn University orientation program on distance learning and cutting-edge technology that delivers coursework to locations far beyond the existing colleges and universities within the system.

During the recent visit to Malawi, Auburn University and Malawi Open University hosted the National Symposium on Higher Education Online Initiative in Blantyre, which is the commercial capital of Malawi.

Each public university presented a distance learning status update, including joint efforts with Auburn University, an overview of each Malawi distance learning project, and a summary of the technology involved. The symposium was the first of its kind, and plans were laid to develop an annual event.

Attendees included representatives from the Malawi Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, public and private colleges and universities, and non-governmental organizations.

Representing Auburn University was President Steven Leath and Auburn’s Malawi Research Team, including Overtoun Jenda, assistant provost for special projects and initiatives and professor of mathematics; James Witte, professor of adult education; John Helms, director of information technology; Rusty Presley, Alabama Cooperative Extension System information technology specialist; and Douglas Coutts, diplomat in residence (Rtd).

During the symposium, President Leath, together with vice chancellors of the four primary Malawi public universities, including Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi University of Science and Technology, Mzuzu University, and University of Malawi, signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration among the five institutions by developing joint programs and activities.

President Leath also met with the president of Malawi, Professor Peter Mutharika, at Sanjika Palace, his official residence in Blantyre. President Mutharika serves as the chancellor of the four Malawi public universities. During the meeting, they reiterated their commitment to current and future collaboration between Auburn University and universities in Malawi.

Auburn University has a long history of partnerships with Malawi through fisheries and agriculture, the Masamu Advanced Study Institutes and Workshops, study abroad programs in the Colleges of Education and Nursing, and faculty and staff exchanges.

Malawi is a democratic republic with a multi-party system of government in Southeastern Africa, sharing borders with Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. Lake Malawi is a landmark in the country known for its clear waters and beach resorts, located within the Great Rift Valley, which has diverse wildlife. The country is commonly known as "The Warm Heart of Africa" for the kindness of its people.

For more information on the partnership between Auburn University and Malawi, contact Overtoun Jenda at or visit the Malawi Higher Education Initiative website.

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